Creating Brightness this Winter

Collectively it seems that our society is embracing all things fall while actively dreading the season ahead. Our lives turned on a dime late last winter and it felt like summer gave us a bit of solace – the outdoors, hiking, seeing friends and family at a distance. Many of my conversations as of late have turned to winter: how are we going to navigate it!?

I’m determined to thrive this winter. It’s one of my favorite seasons – I absolutely adore snow and wintry scenes, and skiing is one of my greatest passions. We are busy making preparations in my home to set us up for success during the winter months that are fast approaching. I wanted to share some of our ideas, as well as some that have come up in conversations from friends. I’d love to hear what you’re doing to prepare, too.

  1. Install outdoor heaters
  2. Stock up on cozy blankets for covered patios/porches – social distance adult time is still possible in the cold/snow/rain with a little creativity and planning
  3. Hang holiday lights or big globe string lights to boost brightness outdoors
  4. Add brightness inside – refresh lighting, add candles/flameless candles
  5. Purchase a wood-burning stove or a gas fireplace to up the cozy in your living space
  6. Get an outdoor fire feature – a fire table, build a fire pit or a propane fire ring
  7. De-clutter the house and create lighter spaces indoors
  8. Add indoor plants
  9. Schedule weekly date night in
  10. Embrace a winter sport/hobby – cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking, ice skating, etc.
  11. Make & schedule time to exercise indoors – we’re loving classes on the Peloton app
  12. Make & schedule time to exercise outdoors – Tuesdays and Thursdays are my rain-or-shine running days
  13. Think extra creatively about social time in person, if safe and possible
  14. The Marco Polo app is nice for video messages back and forth when live chat can’t be attained.
  15. If you’re having a down day, reach out! Send a text to a friend and just say “hi.”
  16. Go easy on the coffee & booze
  17. Surround yourself with photos of family, friends and places that make you happy
  18. Find something to look forward to
  19. Plan a hypothetical trip, or a post-pandemic trip
  20. Set a reading goal
  21. Join {or start!} a virtual book club
  22. Fill your life and spaces with positive energy, people and things
  23. Bring out the board and card games and have a weekly game night – virtual games are a thing, too!
  24. Rent an Airbnb in your region and get a change of scenery, plus have something to look forward to
  25. Invest in cozy pajamas and slippers

Setting our collective expectations and attitudes appropriately can help change the course of our winter. We all have unique situations and ideas about what the upcoming season might look like – I hope you’re able to visualize yourself happy, cozy and calm this winter.

Pandemic: Week 28

Life is feeling slightly more smooth, predictable and, dare I say, normal. It was another big week in our transition back to Seattle last week – Ben began school in person and Hannah started her virtual preschool program.

I cracked one of the camera lenses on my {brand new} iPhone at the end of this week, so I’ll be short on photos for a week or so until I get it repaired. I was completely devastated when I realized what had happened. The iPhone 11 camera is unparalleled. I take copious amounts of pictures of my kids and our life and I was so disappointed when I saw that my camera broke. My sweetest Hannah asked me at least 25 times if I was okay.

It was a short week in Seattle, as we only had three nights there. It almost felt like we had a little bit of a rhythm going. I was feeling more at ease and able to do some planning, organizing and thinking.

One mom win on my scorecard was prepping the kids lunches in advance. It was so fun for them to have their cool new lunchboxes {as I write this – they’re on sale!!} to use on school days, even though we were eating at home. I absolutely love making my kids fun, creative lunches.

Sending Ben off to his first day of in-person school in the middle of our global pandemic was strangely fine, but of course a bit weird at the same time. We’re grateful for the slow start and the opportunity to ease into the school year. It’s such a tremendous adjustment for Ben to be away from home.

Ben LOVED school. Absolutely and completely loved it. He is smitten with his teacher and is so comfortable there. Even if we only get another week, heck, another day, of in-person learning, I’m forever grateful we had a week.

Hannah caught me off guard when she was confused and sad after dropping Ben off. Of course she had no idea what it meant when I kept telling her Ben was going to school. She probably has no concept or memory of him ever leaving the house to go to school since it’s been so long.

Sweet, wild Hannah started virtual co-op preschool last week.

One of the other parents in the school created these darling “first day of school” signs for all of the kiddos. Hannah sure is shooting for the moon with her lifelong aspirations {if it’s too small to read, it says “When I grow up I want two chocolate chips”}!

I think it’s going to take a few weeks for her to get into a groove and get accustom to Teacher Shannon and the other students.

She sat there for a bit and was enjoying the story, then we lost her to a pair of maracas.

If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I am not sure Ben and Hannah would have become quite so close. They have been forced to be each other’s best and only friend for six months. Especially for Hannah, it’s going to be a massive change as Ben transitions towards being away at school all day.

We received Ben’s school’s updated re-opening plan, which increases his in-person time over the next three weeks. By late-September, he’ll be going with his full cohort of 11 students for the whole six hour school day.

If I’m being honest I really haven’t processed that possibility. There are so many ways this can all go and I’m working hard, and succeeding, on going with the flow.

That being said, we were thrown a bit of a curve ball last week when a massive cloud of smoke moved up the west coast. The air quality worsened as the week went on, so our outside time in Seattle was relatively limited all week.

We ended up skipping school for Ben on Friday because the air quality went up to “very unhealthy.” That meant we got an early jump-start on our weekend in the mountains.

Of course the smoke followed us east, but not until later in the day on Saturday. We’re still dealing with poor air quality and it looks like we’ll be in the midst of this much of the upcoming week, sadly. Our hearts are breaking for those affected by the wildfires across the west. The devastation is unbelievable.

On a more positive note, last week was our first adults-only social time in person since before the pandemic began. We had our friends Kirsten and Linc over to spread out in our backyard and catch up. Zoom and FaceTime are really terrific ways to keep up with family and friends; however, there is no equivalent substitute for the in-person connection we were able to have. We felt so grateful for their au pair who made our evening together possible!

Now that we’re back in Seattle more we’re hoping to be able to do that more often with friends, especially before the rain comes. That being said, we do have a covered patio in our backyard that would still allow us to spread out if we took the table out. Maybe we should get a little heater for back there and stock up on some cozy blankets!

I have no notable mentions in the food department, aside from an epic, epic fail in the takeout department. However, I do have a very noteworthy coffee mention! We have been using our Nespresso at The Lodge on the daily and I couldn’t bear to not have one in Seattle {I fully realize the ridiculousness of that statement}. It’s faster, less expensive and significantly safer than going to a coffee shop right now, so I pulled the trigger and ohhhhh was it nice making that first iced latte!

We spent the weekend out at The Lodge. This was our last weekend with Alex’s parents out here. The amount of time we were able to spend with them was a tremendous gift, and one I will be eternally grateful for. That time is the exact reason we built this house. We want our family and friends to come and spend quality time with us. Our family and friends are everything to us.

To have Donna and Stan out here for nearly six weeks was so incredibly special for us all. The kids were overjoyed with the amount of Grammy and Papa time they had. They made memories and shared experiences and deepened their bond. We were all extremely sad to say goodbye to them and wished they could have stayed longer. We will miss them terribly and we just don’t know when we will see them, or any of our family, again.

Emergency Preparedness

Maybe it’s the former lifeguard in me, maybe it’s my inner mama bear, I’m not quite sure, but I’m a stickler on emergency preparedness. I’m a planner by nature, and while you can’t plan for every situation, I’d at least like to be prepared in case we find ourselves in the middle of a disaster or emergency.

With all the devastation out here on the west coast I felt compelled to check and re-stock my emergency kits and work with the kids on a fire emergency plan for both houses.

We’re well-stocked on water, non-perishables and all the things in Seattle. I realized I need to create a better kit for our mountain house, too.

Because I typically drive back and forth between Seattle and the mountains on a weekly basis with my kids I have an expansive emergency kit in my car. I just added my bin with winter gear back into my car now that we’re on the cusp of cooler weather out here.

In our older car we have one of these handy window breaking tools. I had to double check with my brother, a former firefighter, about the effectiveness in our 2019 car. Basically most cars made after mid-2017 will have laminated glass, therefore one of these tools will not work to break it in an emergency.

I hope this post serves as a reminder to either double check yours and make sure your kits and plans are up-to-date, or to create an emergency kit and plan for your family. And here’s hoping you never have to use it!

Here are a few resources I’ve used to pull together my emergency supplies and plans:

Pandemic Week 27: Back to School

Transitioning back to Seattle was overflowing with emotions. There was tremendous excitement, a whole lot of frustration, nervousness, and adjustment to a whole new life.

One of our greatest challenges wast the lack of easy outdoor access for the kids. We have a very small yard, but a yard nonetheless, so we’re working on making the most of the space we do have.

I felt like I backtracked to early March when everyone was floundering around, trying to figure out how to cope with the pandemic. We were so isolated in Leavenworth that my adjustment period was very different. There’s a whole new set of norms in Seattle I’ve had to work through.

Our poor dog took everything the hardest, it seemed. Jackson suffers from severe anxiety and it rears its head more in Seattle than anywhere else. He was a complete and total wreck all week long.

Both kids went to the doctor at the beginning of the week. The appointment itself was not easy. This was literally the first time either child was in a building in six months. The parking garage was terrifying, the medical assistant trying to get Hannah’s height and ultimately give Ben vaccines had no patience, grace or empathy and it’s just a scary place to be right now. We survived and the kids are healthy and growing and up-to-date on their vaccines.

Navigating play dates out here last week was quite an exercise. Ben did awesome wearing his mask, giving kids space and making new friends.

We have a little play pod going with a few of the other kids in Ben’s cohort – conveniently, half of them live in our neighborhood. We got together last week so that the kids could get to know each other and have some social time and get to know each other before the Zoom chats began.

Ben started school on Tuesday, which meant he had a short Zoom meeting with his class. The remote meetings were really sweet and provided a lovely way to meet classmates and engage with his teacher and also to see everyone without their mask on.

We all got to go into Ben’s school to meet his teacher in person and visit his classroom. Ben is completely smitten with his teacher.

Later in the week it felt like we were settling into our transition. Far from any sort of routine, but an adjustment to the house, our limitations and the space. We celebrated with a trip to the beach near us!

And I celebrated the success with a coffee from my absolute favorite spot, Madison Kitchen. Lucky for me, they’re doing online ordering and quick and easy pickup.

Ben’s school week concluded mid-day Thursday with a virtual ice cream social. He had been looking forward to it all week long.

While Alex finished his workday in Seattle, the kids, Jackson and I piled in the car and headed east! Our first drive to the mountain house together, just like we did every week all winter and most weeks last fall. I have come to love those drives, just as long as it’s not snowing too much. The kids slept for a bit and I was able to get in a podcast – I’ve been loving the Michelle Obama Podcast.

We savored the last unofficial weekend of summer at The Lodge. Alex’s parents were still there and the kids had a blast with their grandparents.

Alex and I stepped away for a morning and went into Leavenworth for a mountain bike ride/run, followed by a coffee date. It was a very, very lovely day.

A hike we’d had on our list for a while was to walk the irrigation ditch. Exciting, I know! Actually, it really is and it’s really beautiful.

Ben has been all about throwing parties lately. We’ll happily indulge him in that as long as he keeps the guest list at family only. One party he threw last weekend was a popcorn & movie party. We watched “Kiki’s Delivery Service” together. It is such a lovely movie!

Alex humored me and made his famous cinnamon rolls one morning.

Ben got to help Grammy make Nana’s famous sausage rolls, which is something Nana {Alex’s maternal grandmother} is known for making for her grandchildren.

One of the highlights from the weekend for me was our trek at Stevens Pass. There were still wildflowers everywhere and we had the pleasure of checking out the mountain bike trails and exploring the mountain without skis on.

We had such a lovely Labor Day weekend and were grateful for the bonus day together. It made the weekend feel extra long.

Pandemic Week 26: Transition Time

This has been a week filled with anticipation and a whole lot of change. We moved back to Seattle over the weekend!

There was so much up in the air with Ben’s school last week we really weren’t sure when we’d even go back to Seattle. It felt like all of our plans and the week’s schedule were put on pause until we ultimately decided to go back on Friday afternoon.

We made the most of our last days in the mountains with a trip to the beach, hikes and a few nice meals together.

The kids loved spending a little extra time with Grammy and Papa last week in preparation for a little time apart.

Both Ben and Hannah have been getting more and more into art – painting, in particular, and have loved our regular “art on the deck” moments.

A fun activity they enjoyed with Grammy was painting some rocks they found while on a walk.

For our last evening in Leavenworth we went out to Ski Hill to have a picnic. Ben did his first mountain biking jaunt. This kid is a natural on his bike – it’s incredible to watch. He has taken off with his new, appropriately sized bike.

We left the mountain house teary-eyed on Friday afternoon after spending 5.5 months in dreamland, escaping the pandemic. It was so hard to say farewell to such a special chapter in our family’s story.

Upon arriving back in Seattle the mood picked up and we had an absolutely wonderful afternoon and evening. The kids were beside themselves with excitement to see Henry, our cat, who has been weathering the storm {under the care of our neighbors} here in Seattle.

We bumped into so many of our lovely neighbor friends over the weekend, we got ice cream from the shop in our neighborhood, we had the best pasta takeout from our favorite neighborhood spot and the kids relished in being home. We just love where we live.

That said, being back in our small house in Seattle has been filled with an array of emotions. It’s home and it feels like home. But it’s also half the size of the house we’ve been living in and there are no sight lines from one room to the next. It feels dark and closed in and a bit suffocating at times. The kids do not have easy access to just run outside and play, which has been a huge adjustment for us all these last few days.

It’s overwhelming to have toys and piles everywhere and a clingy koala bear attached to my leg, while having my kids making simultaneous demands. My biggest goal for the week is to figure out a plan to not feel overwhelmed here, or overwhelmed when we transition back here, and how to make it easier for my kids to go back and forth.

Alex and I did a major overhaul of our closet. If we’re not going to wear it in the next year, being in a pandemic, goodbye to you {with a few exceptions}. It felt so good to get rid of some of the excess and unnecessary clutter. We cleaned up our backyard quite a bit and I’ve been trying to get rid of a bunch of random things we don’t use or don’t need. It always feels so liberating to purge.

I promised Ben that before he started school I’d take him to the ocean. We headed northwest to Whidbey Island where we landed at Double Bluff Beach, a massive beach on Puget Sound.

Our beach day was extra special because of Ben’s enthusiasm and tremendous interest in marine life.

It was low-tide upon our arrival and it was really fun watching the tide roll in while we were there. The kids have never had an experience like that before.

Since it was low-tide we had the pleasure of finding all sorts of things in the sand – crabs, seashells, live sand dollars and a whole bunch of seaweed.

The kids loved building sand castles and playing in the sand, looking for seashells and Ben had so much fun splashing in the water and making seaweed necklaces. We had a fun picnic lunch and enjoyed the ocean air.

Our adventure to the beach was the perfect end-cap to our weekend on the west side of the mountains. We have no idea what the next weeks or months will look like for our family or for the world. I’m going to have to dig a little deeper to pull together some more creative voyages for us during the week, but I’ll find a way.

Lodge Life: Pandemic Week 25

Well, we’ve spent our last full week of our hiatus out here at The Lodge and we’re preparing to move back to Seattle later this week.

My hands have been thrown up in the air and I’m trying to just enjoy each day. At this point, we know a step above nothing in terms of Ben’s school schedule and all things associated. It’s very hard for me to mentally prepare when I have absolutely no idea what I’m mentally preparing for.

We’re not sure if he has the full virtual learning program the first week of school, or if he has any virtual learning that first week. All we know is that he goes in to meet his teacher and see his classroom sometime that first week. We don’t even know what the “full virtual learning program” entails for a pre-kindergartener.

The second week of school he’s to go in person for one hour a day, we’re just not sure which hour that is and what the remaining four hours of the school day look like.

It’s clear to me I’m going to be provided with the opportunity to embrace constant change and strengthen my flexibility this year.

This last week we were embracing our life in the mountains and enjoying our last days here and the last bits of summer.

The light is fading fast, the sun is sinking lower and lower into the sky and my goodness the leaves are starting to turn. The morning temps are in the upper 40s. Fall is approaching quickly.

One item on my summer activity list that we checked off last week was to do the Tumwater Pipeline hike. I had been wanting to do this hike all spring and summer – I just didn’t want to take the kids there solo for the first time. You just never quite know what you’re getting into…….

As the reviewers warned me, the hike itself is quite anticlimactic. The hike begins with a walk over an impressive old bridge that takes you across the river. From there, it’s a nice walk in the woods. But! It’s flat and I would probably be comfortable taking the kids there on my own again. Now I know!

Ben earned himself a haircut {cut by mom!} last week. Ready for school I guess!

Speaking of back to school, I have no idea what to plan for regarding Ben actually going to school and our living arrangements. Therefore it’s been challenging trying to anticipate wardrobe needs and quantities. In any case, I had fun getting him some new tops and a whole new set of pants.

Thank goodness the kids’ raincoats arrived when they did! We had the tiniest bit of rain and the kids loved it.

We ventured out to the Leavenworth Pump Track last week. It was a strange experience in the middle of the pandemic and we had to wait for the crowds to subside before having the kids take their turn.

We didn’t mind the waiting too much since we had takeout from one of our favorite restaurants.

Hannah had so much fun on her first ride through the pump track. She was so mad at us that we wouldn’t let go of her bike. She needs a bit more practice first.

The day after our pump track trip Ben’s new 16″ bike arrived! We’ve been scouring the internet all summer in search of a bigger bike for Ben and finally Alex found one. It couldn’t be a more perfect fit for Ben.

He adjusted to the new wheels right away – even the new hand brakes, as opposed to the pedal brakes in his last bike. He is SO fast.

Foodie news – I made my first baguette! It turned out really well – I used my regular bread dough that I use to bake our daily loaf with and simply shaped it differently.

I used the baguette for last week’s Friday Night Adult Dinner. We had pan con tomate {bread with tomatoes} and tortilla Espanola. Both of which are some of my favorite Spanish dishes that I’ve been making quite regularly, thanks to my Curate cookbook. It was such a treat to not only have an adult dinner, but have the opportunity to relax and enjoy a tapas-style meal with my in-laws. We had a really lovely evening! {Sorryyyy about the picture.}

Another adulting highlight was Saturday morning. Alex and I headed into Ski Hill together so he could do a long mountain bike ride and I could enjoy a long run. We ended our time with a quick coffee date in the park.

We finished off our last weekend in the mountains with a trip to the beach. The kids loved building sand castles and taking a ride on a kayak and paddle board.

Very surprisingly, no one went for an unexpected swim in the lake! I never stood up on the paddle board when Ben was on there with me – I’m positive if I would have we’d have flipped over.

We’re in our last few days here at The Lodge, enjoying what’s left of our hiatus. I have no idea what’s in store for the fall – heck, the next year. We’re anticipating we’ll be back up here for hiatus part II, but maybe not. In any case, this last 5.5 months have provided the most special family time I could have imagined. Here’s to the next chapter…

Lodge Life: Pandemic Week 24

Oofta – it’s been a busy couple weeks over here and I’m a week overdue on this post! Things are heating up with school preparation and planning to move back to Seattle, plus we’ve been busy having fun with Grammy and Papa.

We were blindsided by some big news from Ben’s school. After being so confident they were going to be able to hold classes in person at 100%, they reneged. I had all the feels about the change of plans. While I wasn’t terribly surprised, it caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting it. And it’s just so sad. It’s so sad.

The picture is a little dramatic, but I’ve seen those big, sad tears several times recently in conversations about how much he misses his friends. It’s super sad, but it’s real and I wanted to capture that moment, as it highlights one of the hardest parts of the pandemic for my sweet 4-year old. Real life, right here.

Anyway, just as we were settling into the idea of remote learning, the school did a little switcheroo and threw a new option in the mix. Now, beginning the second week of school, Ben will be going to school in person.

Typically his “grade” would be divided into two classrooms. With the pandemic, it’s now divided into three cohorts. For this trial period of on-campus learning, each cohort will be cut in half, so he’ll have 4 or 5 other kiddos in his little cluster. Each cluster will go to school on-campus for one hour every day of the week to start. They’re hoping to increase to two hours after a week or two, then re-evaluate at the end of September.

We’re still learning what this all means and what Ben’s schedule and cluster looks like. I know I’m not alone in feeling like my head might spin off of my body from the chaos and uncertainty that is 2020.

Late last week Alex and I made the drive over the mountain pass back to our home of ten years to get it ready for us to move back into. I hadn’t been home in five and a half months.

Both Alex and I were a little nervous about how I’d feel upon returning to our house in Seattle. Let’s be real – it’s a small house with a not-so-ideal layout for having a family or entertaining. After living at The Lodge I’ve become quite accustomed to an amazingly open layout, a master suite and a deck and yard that I can see from the kitchen. I have zero of those luxuries in Seattle.

Upon returning home I felt a sense of peace. Our little home in Seattle is just that – our little home. It’s our home. And we belong there. And I’ll be hard pressed to ever sell it. That said, I’ll happily jump on board with a major renovation, which has been something Alex and I have toyed with for the last four years. I think it’s time to take the plunge and put our dreams for this house in motion. More to come on that note.

Our time in Seattle was lovely. We both absolutely adore our charming neighborhood. It was winter when we left, so I was marveling at everyone’s lush gardens and how much has changed, but how much stayed the same. It was less challenging than I expected to deal with physical distancing and mask-wearing while out for a walk. Everyone was wearing a mask out and about, so that was refreshing to see.

Back in the mountains and our 24th week, we did all the things from taking a trip to the blueberry farm to hiking, hiking and more hiking.

Hannah fell in love with a cat at the blueberry farm. Girl loves animals!

I had the most amazing running adventure with my friend Joanna when we ran another half marathon together.

We ran along the Little Wenatchee River, an incredible area I had never explored. It was so serene and secluded. Running with Joanna has undoubtedly been a highlight of the pandemic for me. Joanna is SO BRAVE and adventurous and I just follow right along with my bear bell jingling on my hip.

During our run we found a little swimming hole, which I took the gang to the following weekend. The water was frigid and flowing, the flies were biting and it was so, so, so beautiful.

Alex took Donna and Stan up on a hike along the ridge that looks down over the river and our valley, including our house. It’s a very steep hike but they were able to walk out our sliding doors and head out on foot, which I think is pretty cool. Hannah and I even saw them standing up there.

What a dream it is to have this natural beauty surrounding us. The more and more into our time here the more we realize just how special these mountains are. It is really hard to believe our time out here is winding down.

Lodge Life: Pandemic Week 23

The weather is changing out here at The Lodge and it is really starting to feel like fall is just around the corner. The aspen trees have that golden glow when the sun hits the leaves that look like those special early fall days. We’ve had a very mild summer – really, it felt like we only had three weeks of true summer heat this year.

This week we had several themes: flexibility, change, grandparents and hiking!

Alex’s parents arrived on Wednesday afternoon and will be staying here at The Lodge until mid-September.

The kids couldn’t be happier. They’re loving this extra special time with Grammy and Papa. It’s been just over five months since we’ve seen them, which is probably the longest we’ve gone without seeing them ever.

I have to imagine the kids are enjoying the variety in having other people around and playing differently with Grammy and Papa than how Alex and I play with them. Their imaginations are running wild!

We’ve enjoyed a few hikes with Donna and Stan.

Friday I took them, along with the kids, on a very easy 2-mile round-trip hike to Hidden Lake.

The views of the lake were picturesque.

Over the weekend the highlight was our Icicle Gorge hike.

It’s one of my favorite hikes. It’s very family-friendly, though at 4.6 miles it’s a bit long for little legs.

We meandered at a cruising pace of 1 mph for the first two miles. Post-lunch we buckled the kiddos in the hiking backpacks and made our way through the trail a little faster.

The views of the crystal clear river were spectacular.

The trail is quite popular and we encountered a number of other groups, most of whom were also wearing their masks. Everyone was very respectful and either we or they would move off the trail to the side to allow for space to pass by safely.

I’m not sure what our next hike will be, but it has been so rejuvenating getting out to the trails so much in the last week.

Before Grammy and Papa arrived we spent the week at home. The kids have been loving taking our mini easel out onto the deck and doing drawing. All. the. time.

Hannah is particularly into drawing these days. She always wants me to draw her family and a house, then she draws her variation alongside.

We are having the pillars by our front door replaced right now. It’s been quite a project, it turns out. It looks like he might wrap up today or tomorrow, though.

We’re in the beginning of wildfire season out here in the mountains. We’re so very grateful it’s not been a very active season this year; however, there is one 380 acre fire not far from us. We’ve had quite a lot of helicopter traffic overhead and the kids have enjoyed watching the firefighting helis carrying their gigantic buckets of water to help put out the fire.

Wednesday we received a note from Ben’s school informing us that they’re in the process of re-evaluating their decision to open up in September. The governor announced new guidance last week that they are now considering. We’re hoping to have their update and final decision mid-week, though we know that the school can decide at any point to move to all virtual.

Finally, in food-related news, we’re loving the incredible peak-summer produce right now. The Washington peaches are divine and the nectarines are even better. I cannot get over the green beans – they’re just the best thing. One of my favorite foods. I had to make a second batch last week for Ben.

The kids loved this fun muffin tin snack I made them last week. I’ve seen it all over Instagram and finally thought to do it myself. No surprise there!

We made one of our go-to dinners, BBQ chickpea quinoa bowls, last week, which were a hit. Otherwise, we’re just rotating through our faves. Joanna Gaines’ pancakes. Pasta with pesto. I made a simple lettuce salad with a traditional vinaigrette. Avocado toast. Bread on the daily. Burgers. Takeout. Panzanella!

Assuming we’re still set to move back to Seattle in a couple weeks we are soaking it all in and making the most of our time out here in the mountains. Here’s to the new week ahead…

Moving Home

We’ve been out at The Lodge now for about five months now. It’s looking like Ben’s school is going to be 100% in-person come September. That means we’re preparing to move back home to our primary residence in Seattle.

Our time out here has provided memories we know will last a lifetime for Alex and me. We can only hope at least Ben takes some of these memories with him forever. This time, hunkered down, has changed us all and will help shape our future. Alex and I have had so many conversations about what the short and long-term future we imagine might look like, and I’ll tell you, our thinking has changed quite a bit from what it was pre-pandemic.

School is what is pulling us back to Seattle, and frankly, we’re wondering {expecting?} if sometime in the fall or winter the kids’ schools will move virtual and we’ll be back at The Lodge. The coronavirus is raging in Seattle and it’s really hard to wrap our heads around sending the kids back to school, but Ben’s school is confident it has the resources to bring kids back safely.

Ben will be starting pre-kindergarten at a private school that has the capacity to social distance, spread kids out and cut class sizes. Hannah will be starting preschool virtually at a small co-op.

It’s going to be a massive change for us, having been here for so long. Hannah had just turned 19-months old when we arrived at The Lodge and she’s going back a potty-trained 2-year old. Our kids are different kiddos than they were when we left. They’ve grown up in the mountains.

Our house is not set up for a 2 and 4 year old. We still have Hannah’s high chair out, and we’re anticipating she’s going to move to a toddler bed any day now. We don’t need her changing table, and she’s jumping into 3T, so she won’t fit any of the 18-24-month clothes hanging in her closet. Her toys and books are for that of a baby, not a full-fledged toddler.

We’re certainly nervous for all of the unknown associated with COVID-19 and returning to school amidst a global pandemic. Life as we knew it doesn’t exist anymore – we know that much, at least. There will be big emotions, certainly from us all, as we adjust to our new normal.

I want to make sure we allow plenty of time for us to get settled and for us to have some Western Washington fun before school starts up. I really want to take Ben to the WA coast and try to find some safe, local adventures nearby to help ease us into the transition.

The kids are now overdue for a visit to the dentist, vaccines and a well-child check-up. We’re skipping a haircut for Ben to avoid another possible exposure opportunity. So, we have a lot to catch up on before they start school.

We are certainly nervous about our move back to Seattle. It’s been so easy to weather this storm on 3 acres in the middle of nowhere. When we arrive back in Seattle we’ll be able to high five our next door neighbor from our kitchen window. We’ll don our masks every time we walk out the front door. Life as we left it in Seattle does not exist anymore.

We have savored the family time, our precious time in the mountains and simply slowing down. It’s been so so so special.

Here’s to slowly starting to close the chapter on our spring and summer riding out the pandemic at The Lodge and beginning a new chapter on weathering the pandemic in a city where one of our children is attending school…….. wish us luck!

Lodge Life: Week 22

This last week we were feeling all the feels over here. It was a really tough week in our house. Alex had his last week at his job and is beginning his new position {same job different team} today, so he was busy making that transition last week. Later this week we’re expecting Alex’s parents to arrive from Illinois, so we’ve been preparing for their arrival and for the change ahead. More seriously, our week began with the heart wrenching news of the death of our friend’s 3-year old son, who died in a vehicle crash right outside his house.

We’ve known Finn since he was two weeks old. His family was in our parent support group {PEPS} that we attended with Ben. They live four blocks from us and Ben and Finn attended preschool together in the past. Our lives are interconnected with Finn’s family and we share quite a large number of friends and acquaintances. It has devastated our neighborhood and “mom” community.

Finn would have turned four this week. On his birthday Ben made four wildflower arrangements in honor of Finn and in celebration of his life. Ben has been asking all the questions this week about Finn and his death. It’s been really enlightening to hear him process this. It’s been a really big deal for Ben, as it has been for us, too.

I’ve been working with a group of folks to support our friends’ family through this time. I’m petitioning the city for more roundabouts and speed bumps and general speed zones/awareness in our neighborhood. Additionally, I’m working to help create a scholarship fund in Finn’s memory at the forest school his mom founded. It’s nice to have a few initiatives to funnel my energy and sadness into.

Thankfully we had something fun to look forward to last week. I packed the kids in the car and we drove through Blewitt Pass over to Suncadia Resort, about an hour and a half away from us. We went to enjoy the day with my friend Shannon and her two boys, both of whom are about 18 months older than each of my kids. I took almost zero pictures, surprisingly.

Suncadia is in a county with very few Covid-19 cases and they were able to open their pools at limited capacity. Shannon invited us to come swim with them. I knew this would be the only opportunity we’d have to swim in a pool, I expect for sure for the remainder of the calendar year.

Of course the kids had a blast. Hannah took a little while to warm up to the pool but once she had her Puddle Jumper on she was comfortable and confident. It was such a fun time!

Earlier in the week we had a morning beach trip, too. The kids just love playing in the sand.

And yes, I swear Hannah has a swimming suit. She hates when it gets wet and wants to take it off.

We all made a pilgrimage to the Leavenworth Farmers Market in 105 degree heat. Ben had been asking all week to go to the farmers market and he picked out three beautiful bouquets of flowers from a local flower farmer.

I picked out an entire box of peaches, which I’m going to be freezing and also making a peach crisp or pie.

My own vegetable garden was a massive flop. I’m not exactly sure what the culprit was – likely a combination of the birds {I think they ate the seeds} and Hannah and maybe under watering. Thankfully, though, my tomatoes are growing really well, despite having been dinner last week for the deer.

We made the best Rice Krispies treats on Friday afternoon. Naturally they were gone by Saturday afternoon.

In school related news we received some major updates on Friday afternoon. Hannah’s co-op preschool will be starting 100% virtual. We received an email from Ben’s school shortly after that confirming their plans to start 100% in-person.

I have been asked to serve as Hannah’s class representative at co-op and Ben’s grade level representative at his school. I’m really honored and excited to be stepping into those positions to play a more active role in their school experience. It will be quite challenging to fulfill these jobs amidst the pandemic when so much will be virtual, though. What a time it is.

We’re jumping headfirst into August, preparing for a month with tremendous change for our family. Here’s to the new week, new challenges and new changes ahead…