Alex’s Hut Trip

Alex has spent the winter preparing for a remote backcountry hut trip. It turned out to be a trip of a lifetime for him. I’ll share his incredible photos and provide a little context behind the trip.

He and eight friends drove up to a small ski town in interior British Columbia, skied at a resort for a day, then got helicoptered out and dropped off at a remote cabin in the middle of the mountains for the week.

They spent the week backcountry skiing, disconnecting from technology, learning and relaxing. Backcountry skiing, or “ski touring,” is a way to access big mountain terrain without a chair lift. To do this, you need to be able to ski up the mountain. Generally, you’d ski in a zig-zag pattern across the mountain to make it a bit easier on your legs for the ascent.

Skiers attach “skins” to the bottom of their skis to provide traction for the uphill. This also requires special bindings that detach the heel, but the toe stays clipped in {similar to Nordic bindings}. Most people prefer ski touring boots, which have a lot more ankle flexion than standard downhill boots. When the skiers reach the top, they remove the skins from the base of their skis, clip their heels into their skis and then ski down.

With backcountry skiing, it’s also important to note that there is *no* avalanche mitigation from ski patrol. It’s imperative that skiers who venture into the backcountry are prepared with rescue gear, such as a beacon, probe and shovel, and that they are well-equipped with terrain management and avalanche knowledge to avoid triggering an avalanche {and the skills to rescue a ski partner, should an avalanche occur}. There are books and classes a person can take to learn these critical skills.

Anyway, back to the trip! Alex’s group’s trip aligned with the end of a major storm cycle that dumped a LOT of light, fluffy powder all across the region. The guys had the most epic, incredible ski conditions of their lives.

Their cabin looked and sounded amazing. It was huge, had a full kitchen, running water and heat, along with a gear drying room, though the bathroom was an outhouse {with a heated toilet seat!}. The guys took turns cooking dinner for each other and relaxing without the use of their devices {no cell service or wifi}.

They spent eight days skiing powder, exploring new expansive terrain, learning about the mountains and having fun together. I hope you enjoy his photos!

The Golden Years

I’ve been wondering a lot lately if we’re in the midst of the golden years of parenting. Is there such a thing? My kids are 5.5 and 7.5 and it feels like we’re in such a good spot right now.

They absolutely adore each other and play together every waking moment. It’s hard to imagine a better relationship between the two of them. They’re each other’s biggest fan and bestest friend. As a parent, it’s one of the most endearing, rewarding and heartwarming things to witness.

Life feels especially fun these days, and it feels like as a family, we’re a team, and we’re on the same team. Sure, there are challenges and always will be with parenting. Right now feels like a particularly special time that I’d like to hold on to.

Surprisingly, especially with the news headlines these days, many of my friends who have older kids tell me that they love having teenagers, so I do have hope that the good times will just keep rolling.

This past fall I read an absolutely delightful book called “The Art of Making Memories.” I sought this book out after reading a few other titles by the same author (Meik Wiking) and have been working over the nine months or so to evaluate my priorities, including being more intentional with my time and what core memories I hope my children carry forward from their childhood. {I wonder if they’ll remember the matching jammies and boots they choose so they can be “matchies”!?}

My kids are at the perfect age for so many wonderful life experiences. They are capable and independent, they’re becoming a whole lot more rational and all signs are pointing to them being able to remember this time in their lives when they grow up.

So, here’s to making all the memories!

Winter 2024 so far!

We were all a bit nervous about what this winter would look like, given it was forecast to be an el nino year. We were very lucky in December and received two really lovely snowstorms to give us a jumpstart at building up a snowpack. By Christmas; however, all the snow in town had melted, and at our house we had 4-6″ still on the ground. It was getting pretty sad!!

Hannah’s first day of school in January was wildly muddy. {Reminder: Reima makes the absolute best kiddo outerwear! She was dry underneath this all of this mud!}

Thankfully January came and brought an incredible amount of snow and cold temperatures and gave us a really dense snowpack.

We’ve been skiing quite a bit this winter, both alpine and Nordic.

Both kids joined our local Nordic team this year and are loving it. Hannah continues to blow everyone’s expectations – her group is filled with kids who are or were her classmates and are used to being outside moving around all day everyday, so their stamina is incredible.

Alex and I are both coaching the nordic team this year. It’s my first time ever as a coach and I’m loving it. It’s incredible to be able to be a part of the community and the program.

We’ve had several really fun alpine days, both up at the big resort near us and at our local ski hill. We all just love skiing so much!

Alex’s parents have been staying with us since just before Christmas. They’ve gotten incredibly involved and are helping support the ski trails and the ski team in a number of ways. It’s been really special watching them enjoy their winter in the mountains. They’ve been Nordic skiing, alpine skiing and snow shoeing and are making friends here. It’s been wonderful having them!

My dad came for a week-long visit mid-January. His trip coincided with the coldest weather most Washingtonians have ever experienced {which was nothing for him, coming from Minnesota!}. But, that meant it was too cold for us to get out and do a whole lot. Still, we made it out for a couple of ski days and had a really lovely time being cozy at home.

It took several weeks for our backyard skating rink to freeze this year. There was a whole lot of drama involved getting it ready to ice skate, but alas, we persevered and the dads put in a lot of time with a shovel, hose and buckets, and got it ready! During the cold snap we were finally able to ice skate and we hosted the sweetest ice skating party with a few of our close family friends.

Hannah has been having the absolute best time at school this month. She’s spending the day out in the snow {yes, all day!} sledding, finding animal tracks, building all the things in the snow, noticing the differences in the natural world in winter, playing with her friends and learning to be a leader for the little ones. She’s also fueled by a tremendous amount of hot cocoa.

We have a big warmup in the forecast for the next week, so we’re all a bit bummed out that rain is on the way. But! So is my favorite month! I love February. Happy mid-winter!

2023 Recap

Happy New Year! 2023 has been another one of my absolute favorite years so far. It’s been filled with so many memories, so much joy, time together as a family, a bit of travel, lots of firsts and so many adventures.

2023 started out in the middle of ski season! We skied A LOT last winter – Ben had about 60 ski days and I achieved my goal of skiing 100 days.

Ben participated on the local Nordic ski team for the second year and absolutely loved it. He competed in a few races, too.

Hannah started ballet last January and has fallen absolutely in love with it! She performed in a spring recital and just recently was a gingerbread in The Nutcracker.

Ben was overjoyed to finally lose his first tooth last winter!

At some point in the early spring work *finally* wrapped up on building our garage and guesthouse. It was well worth the wait! The space is gorgeous, so filled with light and it’s so calming being there. We are so delighted with how it turned out.

Spring arrived, and with it, mountain biking season and running season. We were eager to embrace both sports.

Ben got back into soccer last spring, as well.

It felt like an extra special spring for wildflowers – we had some epic flower-finding adventures.

We celebrated Ben’s seventh birthday with a party at the local pump track.

Ben graduated from Kindergarten this spring!

Our big family trip of the summer was a road trip down the Oregon coast to Redwoods National Park in California.

Most of our summer was spent at the pool. The kids flourished in the water. Their swimming skills took off with leaps and bounds.

Our family garden was a tremendous source of joy this summer and fall. The strawberries and tomatoes were in abundance and we all took pride in cultivating and harvesting from our very own garden.

We celebrated Hannah’s fifth birthday with a party at the local pool.

Alex and I spent the whole summer training to run The Enchantments, which is 20-miles + 5500 feet of elevation gain. Alex joined the “old man running group” – a group of mostly old men who like to run up mountains together on Sunday mornings. I, on the other hand, took a very different approach to training. Nevertheless, we achieved our goal of running The Enchantments and did so on the hottest day of the summer! It was incredible and absolutely grueling.

At the very end of the summer, Hannah broke her leg. She started school at her outdoor school in a cast, hardly able to walk. By the time her cast came off, she was trail running in it.

Fall in the mountains was incredible this year – the colors were absolutely spectacular and seemed to last for weeks.

Ben bumped up in to the traveling soccer age bracket this fall. He got very into it and really enjoyed the sport.

I read a lot of books this year. A few of my favorites include: “Lessons in Chemistry,” “The House of Eve,” “Lykke” {a Danish book about the secrets of the world’s happiest people} and the life-changing book “Slow: Simple Living in a Frantic World.”

Our transition to winter was slower than we had hoped, but we were grateful for two big snowstorms to get us on our way to ski season.

The holidays were filled with joy, cookies, waking up early to find Elfie, delight, crafts, lots of hot cocoa, family time, stories by the fire, skiing and relaxing.

From our family to yours, we wish you a Happy New Year – one filled with joy, adventure and good health. And snow!

Holiday Season 2023!

Happy holidays!

Our holiday season was filled with making memories together, baking and eating a LOT of cookies, enjoying the season of giving, reading Christmas and winter books, decorating, and attending various holiday performances.

This December felt very special, filled with traditions and also mixing in some new holiday activities. Hannah performed in The Nutcracker ballet this year, which was an absolute highlight for us all.

One of the most heartwarming elements of this holiday season was watching both of my kids get into the spirit of giving. They both selected a Christmas gift for their sibling and parents, along with a local child in need. Ben took it a step farther and chose *and wrapped* gifts for his teacher, parents and grandparents.

Baking cookies is always one of my favorite holiday traditions. This year was no exception. We baked dozens and dozens of cookies – we ate a lot of them and also made some to share with friends, family and neighbors.

This year for Christmas my mom and Alex’s parents came to celebrate and stay with us. We went on a sleigh ride, baked more cookies, went sledding, cross country skied, downhill skied, worked through several jigsaw puzzles, and had a lovely fire down by the lake.

Ben and Hannah are at incredibly magical ages to enjoy the Christmas season. It felt extra special this year to watch their joy as the big day approached. Ben, unsurprisingly, hardly slept a wink the night before Christmas, and was up for the day well before 5 a.m.

It all was so special. We are so very grateful to have this time together as a family.

Winter is Here!

This winter feels a little more precarious than our previous winters in the mountains. We are experiencing an El Nino weather pattern this winter. It’s been much warmer than usual, as it is in much of the U.S.

We’re really lucky in that we have had two big snowstorms at our house. Because of that, we’ve been able to maintain our snowpack base. I would be so bummed if we didn’t have any snow right now!

It seems like the theme for this winter might be “get it while you can” – we’ll really have to take advantage of good snow while it’s available.

Ben and Hannah were so excited for the first snowstorm, which came on December 2nd, and they played outside all day. I think they were in and out of their snow gear 8 times that day. It was so fun!

Hannah goes to school outside and has been coming home filled with joy from fun in the snow, and also soaked on the outside. {PSA – Reima has the best gear for kiddos! Their snowsuits and mittens are *amazing* and actually keep kiddos dry!}

Alex is training and preparing for a big backcountry ski hut trip in March and he’s been out ski touring a few times already. Ski touring involves sticking “skins” to the bottom of your skis and skiing in a zig-zag up a mountain, removing the skins and then skiing down. It’s a great way to explore new terrain and have a lot more solitude than the resort can provide.

We’ve all been out for several Nordic ski days – our local trail system has been amazing and is basically the only place with snow! We feel so lucky this winter.

Our neighbors requested permission from a few property owners and ended up cutting a trail right out in our field. It’s a short loop {about .7 miles}, but so much fun to be able to ski right from our house.

We have been out for our first few family downhill skiing days and had so much fun! Ben and Hannah have a deep love of downhill skiing and it brings Alex and me such joy watching them ski and seeing how much they enjoy something we love so much, too.

Alex prepped and filled the ice rink a few weeks ago now. We’re still waiting for it to freeze. Our temperatures haven’t been getting or staying below freezing consistently enough. We felt like we had to just go for it this year and now we’re playing the waiting game. Hopefully next week will be a little colder.

Our family thrives in the winter and absolutely loves snow sports and snow play. We’re so excited for our collective favorite season and all that comes with it.

Please join us in doing your snow dances!

Happy winter!!

Thanksgiving in Illinois!

Typically we stay home for Thanksgiving and do our own thing. Occasionally we’ll have a family member come and join us for the holiday, but it’s usually just our family of four. This year, realizing we would otherwise not see Alex’s sister and her kids all year, we opted to visit them for Thanksgiving in Illinois.

We flew into Chicago and stayed with Alex’s sister in their new house the first night. Ben and Hannah had never been to the city of Chicago before, so it was fun to give them a little taste of a major metropolitan city.

Our first full day we ventured out and explored the neighborhood and had lunch at a famous Chicago-style deep dish pizza place, Lou Malnati’s.

After lunch we packed up and headed for the western suburbs to Alex’s parents house, where we stayed for the rest of the week. Hannah had never been to their house before and Ben hadn’t been there since he was 5 months old {we typically visit them at their lake house in Wisconsin}.

The kids, particularly Hannah, loved one of the parks nearby Grammy and Papa’s house because it had a zip-line.

We ventured across the river to a nature center to go on a little nature expedition one afternoon.

Thanksgiving we were able to keep up our tradition of doing a turkey trot – the kids “ran” {i.e. rode in a wagon} for the kids mile, though our nephew Nico ran the whole thing! And Alex and I ran the 4-mile trot, along with seemingly everyone in the town. There were so many people!

Ben and Hannah went to their first movie {Trolls 3} and got to cap off the night with Chuck-E-Cheese, a true Midwest experience!

While they were out on their excursion, Alex and I joined Alina and Alberto at Top Golf.

We had a nice time catching up with everyone – the kids loved seeing their cousins!

Girls trip to Park City!

I am still playing catch-up with the blog, so, about 6 weeks ago I was able to go on a wonderful girls weekend to Park City, Utah with my friend Carrie. Carrie was one of my first friends in Seattle – we met the winter of 2008-2009 when we were volunteering as ski instructors for an adaptive ski program. We hit it off and so did our then boyfriends, now husbands, and became fast friends. Carrie and Patrick are some of our dearest friends and some of our favorite people to ski with.

Carrie and I became mothers within a month of each other and since then, it’s been harder to get together. Our distance doesn’t help, either – now we live about 2 hours apart. I’m so happy we were able to take our weekend trip to catch up!

Park City is one of my favorite ski towns – I’ve been there many times in the winter, but hadn’t been there at any other time of year. The town itself is filled with fantastic restaurants – we ate SO well and had incredibly nourishing food.

We went for several really beautiful hikes. I love the aspen trees in Park City and Deer Valley – they’re so abundant and even when they’re bare, they’re just so striking.

One of the many benefits of traveling during a shoulder season {the time between the peak seasons} is that there are fewer people there and you often get little perks here and there. Shorter lines at the cafe, more desirable dinner times, and upgrades and reduced rates at the hotel were a few that we enjoyed. Our afternoon tea service was such a special treat.

The time together with Carrie was so special. It’s not that often I’m able to have several hours, let alone several days, to really, really connect with a girlfriend. We had so many deep and engaging conversations and also were able to revive some of our “glory day” memories and make new ones.

And we marked the trip by buying matching outfits. {Pro tip: the ribbed leggings from Athleta are *amazing*!}

I had been a bit worried about how I would do with the altitude, since it really affected me in Colorado. The week leading up to our Park City trip I cut back on my daily coffee intake, drank 2 gallons of water a day and tried to eat iron-rich foods. Some element of that helped – I continued to drink 2 gallons of water every day during the trip and I didn’t drink alcohol, and the altitude didn’t bother me at all! I felt amazing, actually, the whole trip.

Park City makes for a wonderful weekend away, and catching up with a very old friend is just the best.

Halloween 2023

This last Halloween was probably my favorite one yet! We truly had the best time. Our town goes all-out for Halloween and it is just SO fun.

Ben and Hannah are at such fun ages for all the kid stuff – it’s just the best. This summer we grew our own pumpkins that the kids got to carve into jack-o-lanterns.

I couldn’t resist baking up a batch of my favorite sugar cookies for Halloween. We have so much fun decorating and eating them!

It’s been a few years since Alex and I really dressed up in anything more creative than a witch hat. This year we got into it and dressed up as Waldo and Wenda from the “Where’s Waldo” books. We spent the evening walking around having people come up to us saying “I found you!”

Sweet Ben wanted to dress up this year as a jack-o-lantern and Hannah went as a fairy. We made her crown and her wand together – Ben was instrumental in the vision for the crown.

The businesses in our downtown participate in a collective trick-or-treat, which is really just so fun. All the kids come into town and get to do their first round of trick-or-treating together in an almost car-free zone.

From there, we met up with 5 or 6 families and took over an amazing local Mexican restaurant. The kids had so much fun – we got a kids table for them and both Ben and Hannah’s really good friends were there, so they had a blast.

We ended the evening with trick-or-treating in the neighborhood in our town. Many of the houses are completely decked out for Halloween and I think that adds to the vibe of the night.

Our group ebbed and flowed throughout the evening and the kids had so much fun and ended up with a mountain of candy. It was a really special and super fun Halloween this year!

Girls trip to Colorado Springs

Back in early October I took a trip with three of my closest girlfriends from high school. We all traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado for a long weekend. One of the girls was attending a medical conference there and invited us to join her. It was really easy for us all to say yes!

The four of us have a combined 10 children ranging in age from 3 to 11, and it’s been years since we’ve all had an uninterrupted conversation together in person. Not to mention they all live in Minnesota and I’m out here in Washington.

We packed our days pretty full of adventures and started off the trip by taking the cog railway up to the top of Pikes Peak.

The train ride was beautiful – the views were endless.

This was the first time I can remember being above 14,000 feet and boy did I feel the altitude! The gal from the mountains {that would be me} ended up having the hardest time with the altitude – I really struggled with it the whole trip, unfortunately.

We ended the day with a climb up 220ish stairs to Seven Falls, followed by our collective favorite dinner at the Seven Falls restaurant.

Another highlight of our trip was our visit to Garden of the Gods, a public park with majestic sandstone formations popping out of the earth.

Sprinkled into the rest of the trip was a lot of coffee, laughing, so much chatting, hiking and time re-connecting. It was really special. I’m so happy we were able to make this trip happen and I hope we can do another girls trip soon!