Ali’s Favorite Things 2020

I love putting together this post each year. It’s a compilation of several of my favorite random things. It gets harder and harder each year, though, because so many of my favorite things are the items I’ve already shared!

Personal items

Daily Planner page – I use this every day {and have for years!} to help keep me organized. I just love it.

Weekly Planner page – this is a new favorite for me and it helps give me a full picture of my week and all that I need to do.

Mom bag – I just *love* my Freshly Picked backpack for keeping all of my kids stuff with me and organized. We’re not really going anywhere these days, but when we do, I adore this bag.

Household items

Black & Decker mini vacuum – this little vacuum saves my sanity. It’s teeny tiny and oh so powerful. It can suck all the Cheddar Bunnies right out of a car seat or pick up the tumbleweeds of dog hair that get caught in the corner of the room.

Nespresso – I’ve loved this as long as we’ve had it, but in the middle of a pandemic, my goodness it doesn’t get much better or easier than this. Nespresso makes a darn good cup of coffee {Italian brother-in law approved!!!} and I quickly converted to Nespresso from the coffee shop. Be sure to get a milk frother too! This is the machine we have.

Masks

Primary.com masks – I find these are the only ones that feel really snug on my face. They’re the only ones I’ve had that fit my 2 and 4-year old well, too. Bonus: they come with filters.

Clothes

Zella high waisted 7/8 leggings – this one is on my list every year. Each year Zella re-designs their “Live In Leggings” and this year they feel like a second skin. Gosh I love these and especially this year I do feel like I live in them!

Athleta Coaster Luxe sweatshirt – it feels like I’m wearing a cozy layer of butter when I have this on. Pair it with some leggings and I’m golden!

Nordstrom PJs – I’d happily wear these all night and all day. They just released a few new colors, too.

Ugg slippers – in keeping up with the comfy cozy theme, I would be remiss to not include my new favorite slippers. I love them in gray.

LL Bean pullover – I’ve had this one for a few years and I just love it and practically live in it. I have a couple colors. They’re definitely starting to show some wear, but it’s an absolute favorite.

Boots

Sorel Out & About Plus Tall boot – this is tied for my favorite slip-on boot ever {sadly the other fave isn’t made anymore – but still proudly worn by yours truly!}. It’s a brand new favorite for me. This is a lovely boot option for popping on to run an errand or go for a walk in chilly/snowy weather. I do prefer my Joan of Arctic {mine is probably ~8 years old} for playing in the snow with my kids – they’re a little taller.

Sorel Out & About Plus boot – these boots are quite versatile. I can wear them in the rain or the snow and they’re great for walking or driving. I love how cozy they are.

Cozy

Organic waffle knit blanket – this is a major splurge. I just adore this blanket. It has such a nice weight to it, in my opinion, and makes me feel so warm and cozy at night. Not to mention it is absolutely beautiful. I love Coyuchi.

Cozy leggings – I have last year’s version of the Rainier Tight – these are a lined legging and they are SO cozy and warm.

Running Gear

Athleta running tights – these are a brand new favorite, but dang these are awesome. These leggings don’t fall down while I’m running!

Nuun – have you tried this? I love adding one into my running water.

Clif Bloks – nutrition + hydration (+ stretching & training) is one of the ways I can run farther than 5 miles. These are a nutrition fave of mine.

Kitchen

Two Peas & Their Pod cookbook – one of my all-time favorites and most used cookbooks! It’s so versatile and everything is delicious. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe is phenomenal.

2019 Favorites

Pandemic: Week 36

Washington is officially locked back down. No indoor gatherings with people outside your household. Indoor dining is closed at restaurants. Outdoor gathering is limited to five people outside your household. Grocery stores and essential services are limited to 25% capacity. I am so hopeful with these new regulations we can get things under control again.

Alex and I had been chatting about tacking on an extra week after Ben’s holiday breaks coming up, as a way to buffer ourselves with other families traveling or gathering together. Ben’s school ended up taking the same approach and announced that the week following Thanksgiving and winter breaks will be virtual-only.

Starting on November 1st we have been doing “Thankful Turkeys.” Each day the kids tell me what they’re thankful for and I write it up on a little feather that we stick on their turkeys.

I wasn’t sure how this would go, but it’s the sweetest thing. I love hearing what they come up with each day. Last weekend Ben did say he was thankful that we didn’t have our thankful turkeys at the mountain house. Hah.

One morning I had the warm fuzzies all over the place and was feeling a sense of overwhelming gratitude for the extra time we’ve been so fortunate to have with Alex home. Before the pandemic Alex was rarely home for any meals, and now we eat together as a family for breakfast, lunch {minus Ben} and dinner.

Alex gets one-on-one play time with both kids pretty much every day, especially Hannah, while I’m taking Ben to school. Watching him playing with Hannah the other day and realizing what a gift this time has been made me feel so grateful.

Veteran’s Day was a holiday for Ben, so he was home with Hannah and me. He used paint sticks to draw the sweetest flag in honor of the holiday. We spent quite a bit of time discussing what a veteran is that day.

Hannah and I had a really fun little date on Friday. We went over to Madison Park and did some scooter riding and played on the playground a little bit. It was extremely windy and that kept most people home, it seemed.

Eventually we warmed up with a steamed milk and a coffee and took them down to the beach to drink. I just love my time with my girl.

The kids have been having so much fun playing independently and with each other lately. It’s so, so fun to see what they come up with.

Our weekend in the mountains was so lovely and snowy. It gets harder and harder to leave the mountains every time we go up. The weekends go by so fast and once we’re back in Seattle we all just count down the days until we can return.

I think it snowed probably close to a foot at our mountain house on Friday and Saturday. It was magnificent. Waking up to a fresh layer of snow covering the trees is one of my favorite things.

Naturally, the kids couldn’t wait to get out and play in the snow. Ben is known for throwing his boots on as soon as the sun comes up and racing out onto the deck.

After Saturday pancakes we bundled up and made our way out for some playtime in the snow.

Of course, the kids had a blast.

We were graciously invited over to our next door neighbor’s house to come chat and hang out by their campfire on Saturday evening. {Of course we were responsibly distanced and the kids were wearing masks. Why the kids? Sometimes they forget how far away they need to be.}

We have a family with a 5 and 7-year old two houses away from us in the mountains. On Sunday we stopped over to do a little sledding on their “dirt pile hill” and the kids had so much fun. Their kiddos are totally virtual and they literally have no social time in person with other kids, unless they play with Ben and Hannah. So, the masks came on and we went sledding.

Our weekend ended with a haircut for Alex! Woohoo! It was long overdue. I think I actually did a pretty good job!?

As we’re heading into the week before Thanksgiving, we hope this finds you well. The holidays will be different for many of us this year. Stay well!

Pandemic: Week 35

What a week last week was! We were on pins and needles for much of the week and happily eased up Saturday morning once we found out the results of the election had been called. We enjoyed sharing in some historic moments with our kids, explaining the presidential election to them and having the news on the Sonos quite a bit throughout the week.

One of the big highlights for me was when the kids watched Kamala Harris speak on Saturday. I put my little girl to bed that night after showing her that women are still breaking barriers. It gives me hope for her and our future to see Kamala Harris as our Vice President-elect.

Alex and I celebrated the news of the election results with an incredible bottle of wine that arrived just in time. Our wine club winemaker didn’t bottle new wine this fall, due to the cost and Covid, so instead, he sent us wine from his library collection. Normally our wine club wine needs to hang out for a few years before it’s good and ready to drink. This particular wine we chose had been hanging out since 2006.

Aside from the election stress, we really enjoyed our week. Daylight savings time is a doozy when you have kids, so that was our biggest challenge. Poor Ben was all sorts of screwed up. Almost every day last week he asked for us to put him to bed around 6 or 6:30 at night {his regular bedtime is 7}. Miraculously, though, Hannah turned a corner and took a few naps last week!

It was quite a rainy week, and we try not to let that slow us down too much. We had a few park outings and a very, very rainy run one morning.

Ben had Monday off of school due to conferences. It was extra fun to have him tag along in our weekday adventures.

The kids helped me put together a few bags of non-perishables to donate to Hannah’s co-op’s “Coats & Cans Drive.” It provided a tremendous opportunity to teach them about giving, and also open their eyes to the fact that not all kids have food in their cupboards when they come home from school.

We had an almost normal-feeling experience that morning. I ordered coffee and steamed milk and some scones from my favorite cafe in Madison Park and the kids and I picked it up quickly and popped over to the park across the street. Of course extra precautions were taken and we had to sit mask-less away from other folks, but it felt almost normal. The icing on the cake was bumping into my good friend, Ashley, who happens to have a daughter who went to school with Ben for two years. It was fun to catch up with her and let Ben and Nora run around a little bit.

Speaking of that, I want to throw a quick disclaimer that my kids are extremely proficient at mask-wearing. We all wear our masks when out and about, walking the neighborhood, going to the park, riding scooters, etc. We’re grateful most of our neighbors join us in this. The research supporting the effectiveness in masks to reduce the spread of Covid helps me sleep at night.

Now with the rainy season and the darkness upon us we’re really feeling the constraints of the pandemic in Seattle. I’m fine going out in the rain, don’t get me wrong, but my threshold for tolerance in needing to take my kids to play in an off-the-beaten-path parking lot in a downpour at dusk is definitely waning.

It felt so good to get back out to the mountains and simply be able to open up our sliding doors and let the kids run outside and play in our yard. Especially amidst the pandemic, we’re feeling extra grateful for the space we have out there.

We had a very relaxing, low-key weekend. The weather was gorgeous and cold.

We really didn’t do much, aside from go on a family hike on Sunday.

And now we resume the countdown until we’re back in the mountains again…. We’re so excited the holidays are coming so quickly so we can spend some extra time out there. A weekend is not enough time. It goes by way too fast.

Have a great week!

Pandemic: Week 34

Time has been moving *so* fast lately. With Ben being in school our days are tied to his routine. We had so much fun celebrating Halloween this last week. The weather was really nice most of the week and we enjoyed a lot of extra outdoor time in the city.

Our weekday routine is pretty set, these days. Ben is in school from 8:15-2:15 Monday through Friday and Hannah has her two morning co-op preschool sessions. I run most Tuesdays and Thursdays. Otherwise, we’re playing blocks, reading books or riding scooters it feels like.

It feels harder to play outside with the kids at our house in Seattle. I’m not wild about playing in our front yard, given the proximity to the street, as well as passersby during the pandemic. Ben has shown he can stay in his boundaries really well, so his are a little bigger than his sisters. Hannah, on the other hand, needs some city living practice. The “freeze” game is in our future this week.

We did quite a few nature walks and our first ride through the neighborhood with both kids on their scooters last week. It was SO fun and went so well… until just after we turned around and then Hannah was done scootering. And then so was Ben.

We had to call in the reinforcements to help us get home. Should have brought the stroller.

At the end of the week, Ben had the day off for conferences, so I took the kids down to Seward Park. The park is a peninsula that juts out into Lake Washington and has a really nice, wide paved loop trail around 2.5 miles long. I figured it would be the perfect length for Ben to ride his bike around while I ran and pushed Hannah in the running stroller.

Before we hit the loop trail, both kids rode their scooters on a different trail for a bit. Of course I had to give Hannah a chance to have some fun, too.

We made it halfway around the loop trail and Ben was doing amazing. And then he fell. This fall was pretty intense, actually. The trail was extremely narrow and dropped off down a very steep hill covered in bramble. Poor Ben was super scratched up from the bramble patch he fell into and very shaken up from the scare.

He opted to take a break from his bike and requested to ride in the stroller instead. He bounced back the next day and went for a really nice bike ride with Alex.

Hannah had costume day at co-op on Wednesday and was so excited to spend the day in her baby deer costume. She was adorable. Hannah loves baby deer – we saw a family of deer quite often in our neighborhood in the mountains and Hannah was enamored with the beautiful fawn.

Ben had his costume day at school on Thursday and was equally excited to dress up as a kitty cat. Ben’s favorite animal vacillates between a cat and a caterpillar. His costume was pretty simple and comfy.

I had quite a bit of fun making the kids and my costumes. I don’t normally dress up with the kids, but after this year, I think I will keep it up.

With the pandemic, our plans for Halloween looked a little different than they would have otherwise. We had a party at home instead of going trick-or-treating.

A kitty cat and a witch were the images carved into the kids’ pumpkins. Thankfully Alex is a master pumpkin carver and freehanded their pumpkins. The kids had the most fun turning on the candles {we have flameless candles} – go figure.

The kids helped make trick-or-treat bags that we set out on our porch with treats for any passersby. We invited a few of our friends to come stop by our porch for a treat bag, so it was fun to see their costumes from afar.

We cut out and decorated Halloween sugar cookies. I’m not sure who ate more, me or the kids.

After we put on our costumes we dug into a delicious Halloween snack board, then headed out for an afternoon walk in the neighborhood. We didn’t pass by too many people – it was a bit early for trick-or-treating – but we did see some incredible candy chutes and a few costumes.

Despite all the fun we had, at the end of the day I was lamenting about Halloweens of the recent past. We love doing the big neighborhood trick-or-treat and seeing all of the kids and families in their costumes. In the end, though, I loved seeing the photos you all shared on Instagram, instead.

Daylight savings time threw us for a loop on Sunday. Longest. Day. Ever.

It really was a good day. I took the kids to Madison Park to the beach and for a scooter ride while Alex was riding his mountain bike.

It’s hard to believe it’s November, and Election Day is this week. There is so much happening. Here’s to a safe, healthy and calm week….

Pandemic: Weeks 29 through 33

For the first six+ months of the pandemic I somehow managed to do a weekly blog post. I haven’t been able to keep up and fell about several weeks behind. So, here’s what we’ve been up to since the middle of September.

Ben had a slow transition to doing in-person school. For the first four weeks he would slowly increase the amount of time he was at school. This was really helpful since he had just been at home for six months. It also allowed the kids to ease into mask-wearing for extended periods, as well as get comfortable with their teachers and classmates.

After one of the first weeks of school we ended up going virtual for a week due to poor air quality. Part of Ben’s school’s Covid plan is keeping the windows in the building open; however, you can’t do that when there’s unhealthy air quality.

We were holed up in the mountains that week and I loved getting to be a part of Ben’s school day. Ben’s teacher is truly one-of-a-kind and I adored listening to the kids share and his teacher lead the class through their virtual activities.

We’re sort of expecting with the recent spikes in cases that the chances are pretty high for Ben’s school to shut down this winter and go virtual. My experience with the week of virtual learning gave me hope that it won’t be too bad. Can you believe Ben’s school picture?!

I truly cannot believe how much Ben has grown and changed in the last two months since school started. He has grown up tremendously. His vocabulary is changing, the way he plays is changing and it seems like his imagination was opened to a whole new array of ways to play and learn. Going to school has been huge for him. He LOVES school. I can’t express that enough. He just LOVES it.

Hannah has been adjusting to her twice-weekly virtual co-op preschool. The class is 45 minutes long, though we usually end up signing off after 30-35 minutes when Hannah loses interest. She loves doing the art project and listening to Teacher Shannon’s story.

Hannah’s teacher, too, has done a marvelous job at putting together engaging materials for preschoolers and I absolutely applaud her efforts.

High fives {air fives, I guess, right now} to ALL the teachers right now. You are incredibly inspiring heroes!

During the day while Ben is at school, Alex works from home still {newest orders are through June} and I get to spend the day with Hannah. Most days include a request to go ride scooters up at the park. We occasionally meet a friend there so Hannah can have a little buddy to ride with.

Afternoons go by so fast and generally include a huge snack and ample outdoor time, whether playing out front of our house, going on a nature walk or taking the scooters up to the church parking lot in our neighborhood.

Our weekends have primarily been spent in the mountains recently.

We did have one Seattle weekend, though we opted to take a daytrip to Mount Rainier. The kids have never been before and when one day Ben saw the majestic mountain he asked, I said yes.

Our trip to Mount Rainier was a hit for the kids. Ben loved all of the streams running down the mountain, and we were excited to see little patches of snow on the ground. Needless to say, it was very chilly!

Just this last weekend we had the pleasure of enjoying the first snowfall of the season out at The Lodge! We’d been watching the forecast all week, doing our snow dances, me drinking out of my “Let it Snow!” mug, and sure enough! We got at least 6 inches of beautiful white snow.

The kids *loved* every moment they spent in the snow, and Alex and I had a blast too.

It was especially fun seeing how much more independent Hannah is able to be now that she’s a little older. She was so excited to be able to walk in the snow all by herself.

Alex has been getting into a good exercise groove and I’ve been running a couple times most weeks. It’s been extra special to see neighbors and friends again. We run into a neighbor most days and I’ve been either intentionally or unintentionally seeing friends up at the park. It’s very easy to distance ourselves {while also wearing masks} at the park. The in-person adult time is SO refreshing and rejuvenating. Pair that with a run and I’m golden!

We’re really starting to feel a lot more settled in Seattle and with our routine. September and October have completely flown by now that we actually have things going on. Now that Halloween is coming up in a few days I am getting SO excited to plan for the holidays, even despite the fact that our options and time with extended family will be so limited this year.

All Things Cozy

Coziness is a rather important feeling in our family. We love cuddling up on the couch in a big blanket or making sure we’re warm and toasty with a nice pair of comfy socks. Whatever it is, coziness is a real thing and it creates its own vibe for us.

This year in particular we’re amplifying our cozy-factor and making sure we have all the cozy things to keep up that feeling. I happen to be quite good at finding cozy things. Here are some of our favorites:

For the home

For her

For him

  • Slippers
  • Joggers – Alex’s new office is in our chilly basement so he likes to dress very casually and very cozily. Marine Layer fabric is SO soft.
  • Sweatshirt – super comfy and comes in a bunch of colors

For the little ones

Here’s to a cozy winter at home…..

Hannah is 2-1/4!

Our girl is two and a quarter, and boy is she acting like it. This quarter she has given up naps, become the boss, started preschool, became a pro at scooter riding and fell in love with Pinkalicious. Hannah continues to keep us on our toes with her sass, affection, unrelenting dialogue and her sweet-natured personality. She’s growing faster than we can keep up with!

Hannah’s 2 – 1/4 Stats:

  • Weight: 29.5 pounds {80th percentile}
  • Length: 35-1/2″ {90th percentile}
  • Clothing 3T
  • Shoe size: toddler size 7
  • Number of teeth: 18, I think
  • Favorite foods: pears, apples, strawberries, basically any fruit, chickpeas, oatmeal
  • Least favorite foods: beef, chicken
  • Favorite things/activities: watching her Kindle {Daniel Tiger and Pinkalicious}, playing with her babies, reading books, running, dancing, riding her scooter {!!!}, doing anything art-related, testing boundaries
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, stopping doing something fun, leaving somewhere, not getting what she wants

Our lives have changed pretty drastically during this first quarter of Hannah’s third year. We went from living in the mountains as a family to living there with Alex’s parents, then we moved back to Seattle and started going back and forth. More change, still, came when Ben went back to school. Hannah’s whole world has been upended these last few months.

These changes and/or general development, have coincided with the loss of an afternoon nap for Hannah and a step backwards in being potty trained. Yesterday Alex managed to get her to fall asleep for her afternoon nap for the first time in weeks. We’ve graduated to a “rest” time in her crib for an hour – half the time on her own, the second half with a pile of books to read. She’s just plain not getting enough sleep, though, and by the end of the day she is falling apart.

I’d seen this, of course, for a while now, but the bond and friendship between Ben and Hannah is incredibly strong. These two loves are the best of friends. I truly do not believe their relationship would be as tight would it not be for the pandemic. That said, it’s been very hard for Hannah when Ben has gone off to school. She cried the saddest tears the first few days we dropped him off. She has adjusted now, but it’s clear just how much she misses her brother during the day. {It’s been evident it’s tough for Ben too.}

Hannah and Ben adore playing together. They love dancing, racing cars, snuggling, riding their scooters and playing with blocks. We do a lot of art projects and baking together and they really are getting quite lovely at taking turns. I marvel at how reasonable Hannah is with her brother. She could choose to be nasty and refuse to give his toys back, but she never does. She always hands him his toys when he asks for them. She’s the first one to check to make sure someone is okay after getting an “ouchie” and loves to bring Ben a stuffie to cuddle if he’s the injured party.

One of Hannah’s favorite things to do is to take care of and play with her babies. Her natural maternal instincts have been pouring out both with her babies as well as her brother. If Ben asks a question she usually will jump in and answer with whether or not that’s acceptable or safe, or remind him that we’re eating right now and he needs to stay in his seat. She’s my mini mama and loves to be in charge! Additionally, she is such a rule follower, which is such a funny contrast to other personality traits of hers.

Since moving back to Seattle we’ve had the opportunity to go up to a blacktop parking lot and basketball court for Hannah to practice her scooter, rain or shine. She has picked it up quickly and teaches herself new style tricks each week. It has been a total blast for me to watch her improvements day after day.

In the last few weeks she’s become a lot more independent with her balance bike. She definitely prefers her scooter to her bike at this point. Hannah and Ben love to go on bike rides together at the mountain house.

Hannah had her first trip to the pump track over the summer. Following in her brothers footsteps, she loved it and frequently requests it. She is not independent at all at the pump track so Alex or I have to hang onto her handlebars and take her through the track.

Hannah absolutely loves to watch shows on her Kindle. The only shows she really watches are Daniel Tiger and Pinkalicious and she adores them. I am positive she has the stamina to just curl up on my bed with her Kindle and watch it all day long. Of course I don’t allow this, but some days I think she wishes I would.

Art projects are another one of Hannah’s favorites. Drawing, painting and cutting are regular activities around here. Unfortunately, drawing often takes place on the walls and the floor, so currently all drawing supplies are “under supervision only.”

Her speech is definitely becoming more clear; however, she is still not the easiest to understand. I will generally have to interpret when she is talking to someone other than Alex, me or her preschool teacher. Unsurprisingly Teacher Shannon can understand everything she says, even over a computer!

Hannah is the chattiest of chatty Cathys. She loves to narrate her day, without missing a single detail. Truly once she starts talking she might not be done for five minutes. I absolutely adore listening to her describe her day to Alex and hearing what she chooses to share with him, which parts were the most meaningful for her.

One of my favorites is that Hannah has started asking “how did you sleep?” as one of the first things she says to me when I get her in the morning. She is so in-tuned with conversation and picks up so quickly on what other people are saying and works it into her own dialogue.

Last month Hannah started co-op preschool, virtually. We log into Zoom twice a week for our little class with Teacher Shannon. Hannah pays attention to storytime, then we usually do a craft of some sort and occasionally Hannah will hold on for some songs, but not often. I love that Hannah is getting this enrichment, even if she doesn’t stay for the whole class. Hannah is connecting with another adult, albeit over Zoom, and seeing and hearing other kids.

We just started doing distanced, masked playdates at the park with a couple other “twos” from co-op and I really hope that continues. Hannah was so excited to talk about her “friends” and it is so endearing and so completely heartbreaking that her socialization has been so limited as a result of the pandemic.

Hannah’s personality really runs the spectrum. She is fierce, boisterous and independent, yet nurturing, sweet, clingy and timid. She is confident, tenacious, loving, kind and friendly. She’s going to be a pistol of a teenager, and I cannot wait to see what this personality turns into and what this little girl grows into as she keeps on developing.

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: