Lodge Life: Week 18

It was a beautiful, extremely windy week here at The Lodge. We spent most of the week at home given the wind and the crowds coming in for the holiday weekend. We’ve been busy checking things off of our summer activity list and our summer baking list {post coming!}.

The kids kicked off the week with some ice experiments. They had so much fun with these cute little fish-shaped ice cubes. We put some in the water table and experimented with how quickly or slowly they melted in the sun, shade and inside. More than anything, it was just something different to do that happened to be slightly educational.

I run with the kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays and it’s become quite a habit for us to run over to the hardware store. The kids had the pleasure of trying an Italian soda for the first time on one of our runs. I was lucky they shared with me!

It’s a nice distance of a run for me – somewhere between 4.5-5 miles {my GPS keeps losing me somewhere on the run!} and it’s fun for them to have something to look forward to in the middle of the run.

Sweet Hannie was crushed when she found out she wasn’t coming with me on my solo run over the weekend. This girl has come along on almost every one of my runs since she was 8 months old. Alex brought the kids out on the street to do their own run, then I ran with Hannah for a little bit on my way back. Next weekend I’m planning on running a half marathon {unorganized} with a friend. Hopefully I can count on the kiddos to pop up somewhere and cheer me on!

Our only outing for the week was to Ski Hill for a hike. We’re very comfortable there and there’s so much space it seems very, very safe. Most people, especially mid-week, are there to mountain bike anyway, so they’re on different trails.

Ben fell asleep in the car on the way to the hike and wanted to ride in the hiking backpack so I had the pleasure of carrying both kids for the entire hike. Oofta.

My sweetest Ben has been so into wildflowers this spring/summer. We’re so fortunate that we have an abundance of them on our property. I’ll find him out wandering from one place to the next, selecting the perfect flower for his little bouquet.

He has quite the knack for arranging flowers. I purchased a set of 6 little glass milk jars for him to fill with his bouquets. The first day after he placed his bouquets in the vases he walked around the house finding the perfect spots for his beautiful flowers. It’s so endearing coming across these little bouquets from our sweet four-year old.

I am hard at work learning how to arrange flowers, myself. I ordered some roses for myself this week, though sadly, they were a bit disappointing. They never perked up upon arrival. Thankfully the company is replacing them next week. Hopefully they turn out quite a bit better.

In food news – I felt like I had another week that lacked much creativity or inspiration. I did have a few major food wins, though. We made focaccia bread again and it was just as good as I remembered.

I’m normally not much of a La Croix fan {Waterloo is my sparkling water of choice} but dang these Limoncello La Croix waters really hit the spot last week. We found them in a variety pack at Costco and I’m pretty sure I drank 11 of the 12 in a day or two. Whoops.

Saturday mornings are usually reserved for pancakes in my house. This week was no different; however, after seeing a post from Alex’s cousin’s wife, I tried Joanna Gaines’ pancake recipe from her cookbook and it’s a life-changing pancake recipe. I thought I had already found the best pancake recipe. I now stand corrected. If you have the Magnolia Table Cookbook {first volume} please do yourself a favor and make her pancakes, and if you don’t have the cookbook, I found a link to the recipe here.

Finally, for the Fourth I decided to bake an angel food cake. I have many memories of eating angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries around the Fourth up at my dad’s family cabin in northern Minnesota. It’s one of my favorite summer desserts – perfectly light and airy. I was a little intimidated by the recipe and the fact that I was making it while with my kiddos {they didn’t want to help, surprisingly} but it turned out absolutely perfect. When I took it out of the oven it smelled and looked like a perfectly toasted marshmallow. It was definitely a success!

Our Fourth of July was lovely. We took a family bike ride to the hardware store for the Saturday farmers market. Just after we arrived we got to enjoy an unexpected fire truck parade.

Hannah wanted to join us all in wearing our masks to the farmers market. This was her first time wearing a mask, as she’s not quite 2 yet. Since she asked and she’s almost 2 I figured it was a great opportunity for her to practice. Also featured in this picture is how badly I need a haircut!! Haha.

Sunday was leisurely and we closed out the weekend with a very impromptu jaunt into Leavenworth to do some kiddo mountain biking and a picnic at Ski Hill, which has quickly become one of our favorite little spots.

Alex took Ben up on one of the mountain bike trails so he could “do mountain biking” just like Alex. Ben was SO excited and so into it and totally nailed it.

This kid absolutely loves riding his bike. And yeah, he’s getting a little big for his tiny bike!

We picked up take-out from one of our favorite spots, Tumwater Bakery, and had a tailgate picnic in the parking lot while the kids rode their bikes. It was the perfect way to end the long weekend!

2020 Summer Fun List

Summer is here, and so is our summer fun list! It certainly looks a little different than it would if we weren’t in the midst of a global pandemic, but here goes:

  1. Breakfast picnic at the beach {done!}
  2. Make s’mores
  3. Go on a new hike
  4. Allen family bike camp
  5. Go golfing/mini golfing
  6. Pick fruit at an orchard/farm
  7. Go to the Leavenworth Farmers Market {done!}
  8. Make ice pops {done!}
  9. Get Italian soda at the hardware store
  10. …..pool??? probably not 🙁

What’s on your summer fun list!?

Lodge Life: Week 17

We had a really fun week this first full week of summer. Boy did it feel like summer — until the weekend that is. We’re in major sprinklers, wildflowers, picnic + beach-mode over here these days!

The temps really started to climb right out of the gate last week. Sadly, that meant I had to leave Jackson home on our Tuesday/Thursday runs. One of the benefits, though, meant I could run farther than I normally do with him {I try to cap his runs at 4 miles – even 3 is a bit much for him!} and our Tuesday run took us to COFFEE.

I’d been craving coffee shop coffee and was feeling comfortable going to the window on a quiet Tuesday morning. It was such a treat! Our little “coffee shop” is actually inside the local hardware store, which is practically town square where we are. The kids were so excited to get some milk, too. It had been more than 3 months since we’d gone out for coffee.

To mix things up during the week we did “art on the deck.”

The kids love it. Really, I do too, though it always ends the same – paint EVERYWHERE. I was cracking up the whole time watching Hannah paint. She was literally reaching around her little body and painting her butt blue.

We ended up with some lovely pictures and the kids creativity was piqued.

We indulged in a mid-week, late afternoon beach trip, too! I was in disbelief how busy the beach was. We managed to, again, find a little pocket where the kids could play on the shore.

These two just LOVE the beach.

I spontaneously decided to take the kids back to the beach the next morning and boy was I glad I did. We had the BEST time.

I don’t normally do morning outings because if Hannah falls asleep in the car that means she won’t take a nap in the afternoon and it makes the day muuuuch smoother when she can take a nap at home.

In any case, we ventured out to the beach and it was so absolutely lovely. We had the place practically to ourselves and the kids could just run and spread out without me hovering over them to keep their distance from other people.

Ben requested a “breakfast picnic” one morning, so we brought our plates out to the grass and had ourselves a lovely morning meal.

His idea of a breakfast picnic transferred into our weekend plans. We packed up our picnic gear and headed for the beach very early on Saturday morning.

We were met with clouds and intense wind when we arrived, so our beach picnic was rather short and chilly and likely will be revisited another time.

The coffee, coffee cake and company were still delicious!

Alex got out on a big long mountain bike ride on Sunday along with some friends he hadn’t seen in months and months. He absolutely loved the ride, and it sounds like the company of his friends had been missed tremendously.

They were well-prepared for a little tailgate post-bike ride.

In food-related news, I was only mildly inspired to cook anything exciting last week. We grilled burgers, had takeout twice and I made the most delicious veggie fried rice and another night we had a fun dinner where we all got to put together our own quinoa bowls with BBQ roasted chickpeas – it was SO good. The latter two recipes are from the Two Peas & Their Pod cookbook, not available on their site. {side note: that is one of my favorite, go-to cookbooks and I highly recommend it, along with their blog.}

The kids and I spent one afternoon in the kitchen. One of our summer fun activities {stay tuned for the list this week!} was to make ice pops, so we checked that off!

We also pulled together a massive coffee cake for our breakfast picnic at the beach. I had a lot of coffee that day.

It’s never ever stress-free or mess-free to cook or bake with these littles but gosh I just love it. It’s always chaotic and it doesn’t ever go completely smoothly but I rarely care. They both love to help and be involved with anything I’m doing. It’s the perfect way to not only teach them about cooking and baking but introduce them to one of my passions. Worth the clean-up for me!

Here’s to a short work-week for Alex! We are so in need of an extra day this next weekend. What’s everyone doing and cooking for the Fourth?!

Lodge Life: Week 16

We had a really lovely week last week out here at The Lodge. The kids have been bonding in the sweetest ways and are really forming a friendship. It warms our hearts to see them playing together.

For the most part we were just at home last week, playing in the yard. I did take the kids out to the beach one warm and sunny afternoon.

I had expected the beach to be on the busy side {I was right} so I packed the kids’ bikes in the car just in case I didn’t feel comfortable with the crowds. We were able to find a little pocket of waterfront, secluded from others who seemed to be oblivious to the fact we’re amidst a pandemic, so we did stay.

The kids wanted to ride their bikes too, so off we went down the little trail. It was a picturesque spot for a bike ride.

Ben became enamored in making pipe cleaner flowers one day last week. It was adorable.

Friday night marked our typical homemade pizza night. While I love the toppings we choose, I think next time I want to stray from tradition. Any favorites out there? We usually do sausage, caramelized onions and black olives.

We had some friends over on Saturday!!!! It was our first social experience in more than three months. Our friends Jake and Kara have kiddos the same age as ours and have also been totally isolated, so when we found out they were passing through Leavenworth we invited them to stop by.

Maya and Ben have known each other since they were just a few weeks old and have formed a really sweet friendship. Their personalities are super compatible. We truly were overjoyed to be able to provide some socialization for Ben – it had been more than three months since he’s been able to play with another kid his age.

After Maya and her family left on Saturday we took an incredibly spontaneous family bike ride together. Alex brought my bike out from Seattle, which I hadn’t ridden in years, and we hooked the kids bike trailer up to his bike and off we went on a little 9-mile jaunt. I’m still sore from my bike seat.

Alex has been getting really into his mountain bike lately and rides it whenever possible. He took a longer ride on Father’s Day morning up Natopoc Ridge just behind our house. He said the view from the top was incredible and he could see all the way to Lake Wenatchee.

We ended the day with ribs for dinner out on the deck. Alex’s favorite food is ribs and he is working on perfecting this recipe. He nailed it. They were the best ribs I’d ever had.

Our family meals out on the deck are so special for me. Granted they’re also completely chaotic with our two littles, but special nonetheless. The summer weather has been incredible and we’re eating as many meals on our outdoor table as we possibly can.

Hannah is 23 Months Old!

We’re one month away from having a two-year old!!! Honestly, though, we keep forgetting that she’s not two yet because she’s been acting like it for a while now. Hannah is so precocious.

Hannah’s 23-Month Stats:

  • Weight: 26 pounds, 6 oz {88th percentile – as of 1/22}
  • Length: 32 inches {60th percentile – as of 1/22}
  • Clothing size: 2T
  • Shoe size: toddler size 6 – new shoe size this month!
  • Number of teeth: 14 with her last two canines popping through
  • Favorite foods: smoothies, pasta, cheese, watermelon, strawberries, crackers, cookies
  • Least favorite foods: beef, chicken
  • Favorite things/activities: reading books, playing anything with Ben, digging in the sand, climbing, swinging, watering, seeing animals, pouring water, and taking baths.
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, not getting what she wants

So much has happened with Hannah in the last month it’s hard to even know where to start. The beginning of her 23rd month was filled with a major physical and intellectual growth spurt that seemed to last about two weeks.

When she was on the other side of her growth spurt we noticed so many changes. First of all, she grew! Her feet outgrew her shoes overnight – of course with the shipping delays she had to wait an entire week for new shoes. She got very good at stealing her big brothers shoes in the meantime! Now Hannah can reach the rings on the swing set and has an easier time climbing up into the chair at the counter.

Intellectually this growth spurt turned her into a full-fledged two-year old. She’s throwing tantrums, refusing to get dressed and she is potty trained!

Her communication is really incredible. She is still very difficult to understand; however, she’s been working really hard, mostly with Alex, on properly sounding out words and it’s getting slightly easier to figure out what she’s saying. We can typically get the gist and she’s actually an incredible non-verbal communicator.

It’s really hard to say what Hannah’s vocabulary really is, just because many of her words are unintelligible. I’m guessing, though, that her vocabulary is probably somewhere around 300-400 words, maybe more and I just don’t know. She’s stringing together 3-5 or 6 word sentences and the complexity and variance of her sentence structure really grew with this last developmental leap.

Hannah was showing signs of potty training readiness for a while. I took a very laissez faire approach and let her run the show. Sure enough, she did and she is officially potty trained!

Hannah is fiercely independent. She wants to do everything herself. Usually she is very patient with herself as she tries something new and keeps trying and trying. She’s started saying “I did it!” with enthusiasm, pride or sass. She loves an audience and will frequently ask anyone, including the dog to “watch this puppy!” when she is trying something new or doing something silly.

A major milestone for Hannah this last month has been learning how to ride her balance bike and Ben’s scooter! Alex and I had previously been pushing her on both. One day I just decided I was over that and if she wanted to ride the bike she had to do it herself. So she did!

With each passing week Hannah’s personality comes out more and more. When Alex chose her name, he named her Hannah because he thought about a tough but girly girl with her pigtails pinned up under her ski goggles, zipping down the mountain – a girl who could really keep up with the boys. He chose Maxine after his grandmother who was fierce and tough and wouldn’t put up with anything out of line – she told you how it was and that was that. It is remarkable how well our Hannah Maxine is living up to her name.

Hannah knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. She knows her body and herself and is learning how to ask for some space when she needs it. Hannah is overflowing with love, affection and sincerity. She’s the first to ask “are you okay, mama?” if I {or anyone} gets hurt, then meets the injury with a gentle caress from her chubby, beautiful little hand. She is rough and tough – some of her injuries and falls almost go unnoticed it seems, and she’s very quick to pull hair, bite or hit when she wants attention or is upset. If she does get hurt she brushes herself off and tries again.

My girl is ever the helper. She is so nurturing and has the loveliest maternal instincts. She is always at my side, ready and eager to help me with absolutely whatever I am doing. She’s my expert waterer when we’re tending the garden, she puts the dirty clothes into the washing machine and then the dryer, she wants to do whatever she can to help cook or bake and she always wants to help fill up the water table.

I could go on and on and on about how enamored I am with this girl. We just adore our ferociously spirited sweet Hannie.

Ben is 23 Months Old

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 15

It’s starting to feel a little silly titling these posts “quarantine” now that it seems most people have forgotten we’re amidst a global pandemic. I’ll have to re-think that for next week. In this 15th week we’ve spent out at The Lodge, we had cool and stormy weather and it was a bit of a stormy week for our toddler, as well.

A big highlight from the week was Alex’s new mountain bike! He’s been talking about wanting to get into mountain biking for a while now and decided to take the plunge because, well, what a better time than now!?

He took it for a few test rides with the kids – we even did Allen Family Bike Camp in our yard so everyone could practice their maneuvers.

Over the weekend he really put it to the test with some actual mountain bike rides on his own. He biked up Natapoc Ridge, the ridge just behind our house. He ended up riding the exact route I ran a few weeks ago so it was fun to compare notes about the trail/forest service road.

We ended the weekend with a family trip to Ski Hill where Alex got to ride the mountain bike trails and I took the kids on a hike. Ski Hill is known for its mountain bike trails in the summer and I think we’ll be coming back as often as possible to foster this newfound love.

One of our favorite things about having our mountain house is the proximity to hiking, nature and now, for Alex, mountain bike trails. The opportunities are endless.

On that note, we’re working on putting together some summer activity lists {Alex won’t let me call them “bucket lists”} and I’m pretty sure Alex will have his own checklist for mountain bike trails to ride. I’ll post about this separately.

I had a low-key running week. I ended up only running one day and had a whole week to make up for, so I made it a long one. Unfortunately I didn’t hit my weekly running goal {goal: 15 miles, actual: 10.3 miles}; however, I am quite proud of the accomplishments in the run I did take.

Another fun highlight from the week was celebrating Ben’s last day of preschool.

Ben’s teachers put together a very sweet Zoom graduation to commemorate the year.

Our week was a little rocky at times, as Hannah has been going through a massive developmental milestone, both physically and mentally, it seems. She just outgrew her old shoes, overnight it felt, and is approaching the next clothing size and she has two teeth that just cut through. All of a sudden she can reach more things on her own, including the rings on the swing set. I’ve been seeing more and more two-year old behaviors from her lately which for some reason caught me off guard.

One of the delightful two-year old behaviors was her enthusiasm towards learning how to ride the balance bike and Ben’s scooter independently this week! It was a major accomplishment for her.

Side note: did you know that a three-year old is not considered a toddler!? Here I’d been calling Ben a tot as a three-year old but I now know that he was a preschooler instead. It feels weird to say I only have one toddler, even though that’s been the case for a year now!

It’s hard for me to believe that we held out on screen time longer with our second child than our first, but we made it to 22.5 months with Hannah, so we almost got to age 2, American Academy of Pediatrics! This week the kids’ new Kindle Fire tablets arrived. Hannah has been enjoying watching Daniel Tiger {modern day animated show based off of Mr. Rogers} and Ben, of course, has been watching Octonauts. There is a steep learning curve and I’m very much at the bottom of it, so I have a lot of exploring to do to figure out some high-quality content for both kids.

Ben and I had a super quick date on Saturday night. He wanted to come with me to pick up our take-out. It ended up being a really, really special time. We chatted and I carried him into the restaurant and we snuggled in our matching masks as we waited for our food. I even let him have a bite of cookie in the car on the way home. Plus, it was a really great {and quick!} way for him to start getting used to wearing his mask.

Last bit of very important news: I got new slippers and they are basically the best things that have ever been on my feet. How did it take me so long to try Ugg slippers!? I’ve been a Minnetonka Moccasin and LL Bean slipper wearer for many, many years but I’m moving into Ugg camp from here on out!

I decided to splurge on ordering some peonies from Sinclair & Moore, a Seattle-area wedding planner. With weddings being canceled for the foreseeable future, they pivoted and are offering flower arranging videos, and of course, flowers to arrange. I certainly didn’t do any out-of-the-box arrangements but I did learn a bit and put together two beautiful arrangements.

We’re launching into the first sixteenth week of summer vacation like Ben and his rocket!

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 14

While much of the country seems to be loosening its restrictions for the pandemic we’re still very much hunkered down here in the mountains. Washington state is doing a phased re-opening by county. Where we are is still very much in phase one of re-opening, which essentially means nothing is open. It’s certainly been feeling like people are trying to move on from being in the middle of a pandemic, but we’re still playing it safe.

It’s been another week filled with strong emotions of extreme joy and sadness. Our family has had an absolutely wonderful week together; however, the events happening around the country have me feeling distraught and like I need to take my own action.

I had already purchased some new books for Ben for his birthday around culture and racial inequalities, so the timing of that purchase worked out well. While I had already intended on teaching Ben more about race and racial injustices, the timing of the most recent Black Lives Matter protests have amplified that. I have a lot of learning and personal exploration to do surrounding race, racism and white privilege, and particularly what I can do and what my family can do. We’re having a lot of really thoughtful conversations in our family and I’m certainly proud of that.

In other news, our four year old has really been acting like he’s four this week. He has been at his absolute best and is just the sweetest. We have had some extremely special moments and conversations with Ben this week.

We’ve had a blast playing with Ben’s new birthday toys. One of them, a build and take apart car, inspired a lot of building. We’ve been building and taking apart the car and doing a ton of playing with Duplos.

One of the kids’ favorite activities right now is running through the sprinklers – Hannah prefers running around while the sprinklers are on next to her.

I took the kids on a couple mid-week outings. It’s been nice getting out and about while places are quiet; however, once we move into phase two of the state’s re-opening, our peaceful and quiet beach will be overrun with campers at the adjacent campground.

Ben and Hannah absolutely love going to the beach. They both love to dig in the sand and Ben lets his imagination run wild and creates scenes from his favorite show, Octonauts.

Late in the week we went into town and did a short hike at Ski Hill. Ben had fallen asleep in the car on the drive there and upon our arrival was too tired to be a walker. Into the hiking backpack Ben went. Which means I got to carry two children on our hike.

Hannah is basically potty trained. I can take absolutely zero credit for this, aside from providing a toilet for her to use in exchange for an M&M. She has the biggest sweet tooth in the family and she’s totally taking advantage of the M&Ms, so we need to re-work that reward. Normally I’m opposed to rewards, especially in the form of food, but for potty training, I’ll be flexible.

Alex and I had the best at-home date night on Friday. We try {and certainly do not always succeed} to have a date night each week where we put the kids to bed then cook dinner together. This week’s date night was extra fun because we “traveled to Spain” – I made pan con tomate {tomato bread} and tortilla Espanola {basically a fritatta with potatoes and onions}. Both dishes are extremely popular in Spain and remind me of our travels together. We had so much fun cooking together and hanging out, just the two of us, in the kitchen.

Our weekend was delightful and very low-key. We headed back into town so Alex could take the kids on a hike {spoiler alert: he ended up carrying both of them for much of their hike, too} while I went for a run.

We ended our evening with a picnic at the base of Ski Hill. After our hike/run, Alex drove down the hill and picked up some pizza from one of our favorite Leavenworth Restaurants, Tumwater Bakery. It was so, so lovely. Ben was in the absolute best mood and kept trying to serve us all – he’d pick up a piece of pizza or pull a piece of sausage off of a piece of pizza and ask if we were ready for more.

We ended the weekend with a relaxing day at home. A major highlight was a little family bike ride we did together. Ben takes so much joy from riding his pedal bike. It was so endearing watching him practice and practice – he even told us he was practicing to get better for the pump track.

Alex has been getting in quite a few bike rides during the last couple weeks. I’ve also been running a ton. It’s been so rejuvenating for both of us to have time to ourselves to exercise.

We’re ready for another week and the start of our fourth month at The Lodge!

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 13

This has been a week filled with emotions on both ends of the spectrum. We’ve had an absolutely incredible week, as Alex took the whole week off of work and we celebrated Ben’s fourth birthday. While we were out having fun it seemed like our country completely fell apart. My heart just aches for the events that took place in my home state of Minnesota, as well as around the world, over the last week. I’m not going to dwell on that here, but wanted to make note that this was a roller coaster of a week with both joy and sorrow. Let’s focus on the joy!

Our sweet Benjamin turned four!

We celebrated him with a rainbow-themed birthday party with the four of us in attendance. I wasn’t sure how his quarantine party would go and if he’d be disappointed. In the end, I felt like it was an extra special day focused around Ben and what he loves and what’s important to him.

Most of our week was spent at home. The majority of Washington state is still very much closed-down with our stay-home orders in effect. Even once we move to phase two {no projected date} we will still lay low for a while. We’re not in a hurry to be the first ones out doing anything.

We took a day-trip to Lake Chelan. That was probably a summer highlight for the kids.

Our first stop was at Lake Chelan State Park to enjoy the quiet, rocky beach. The kids had a blast. Alex and I forgot how crazy it is to bring our two monkeys to the beach, especially over a mealtime. They’re not too keen on sitting still for any period of time.

From there, we moved into town and strapped the kids helmets on and cruised the one-mile loop trail.

Ben had a perfect opportunity to practice with his two-wheeler in a slightly hilly setting. It pushed him to really work on getting started all on his own and he nailed it!

In addition to our day-trip, we ventured into Leavenworth and did a family hike at Ski Hill.

Since it was a Tuesday we figured the town would be pretty quiet {we were right} so we decided to pick-up dinner for the first time since the beginning of March. We ordered sausages from our favorite sausage house and had a picnic in the town center.

Our other outing for the week was a late afternoon trip to the beach at Lake Wenatchee State Park, just up the road from us. We kept our outings to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to ensure the crowds were at bay.

The kids had so much fun going to the beach two days in a row. It’s really hard to take the kids out in public right now. They don’t have the impulse control and understanding of the situation with the virus to truly keep their distance from folks, so it feels a little more micromanagy than my personality likes.

Check out our new wagon! We LOVE it.

The weather made us feel like summer was in full-swing this last week. I believe we hit 90 degrees at least once. The sprinklers and splash pad came out, the water table was heavily used and gosh the kids go through swim suits quickly!

The pollen. Oh my goodness, the pollen. We literally had clouds and waves of pollen coming across the field at us all week long. Thankfully Ben was kind enough to hose off all of our deck furniture. It needs it again, though…

We baked doughnuts and Ben’s special Turtles Cake {chocolate & caramel cake}. Alex made some delicious ribs for dinner one night and we have been baking bread daily. I made our family favorite pulled pork for Ben’s birthday.

I spent a lot of time dreaming of Spain {I studied abroad there in college} and the time Alex and I spent in Europe together. We’ve had several conversations lately about dreams and goals we have for our family and one thing we’ve continued to come back to has been travel and exposure to various cultures around the world. Our ultimate dream is living abroad somewhere for a year or some unknown amount of time. In the short-term I’m hoping to make a couple things out of my new Spanish cookbook this week.

From all of us here at The Lodge, we hope you have a wonderful week and we send our love.

Ben is FOUR!

Ben sure has been starting to act like a four-year old the last few weeks! His independence, imagination and creativity have been exploding lately and we are so excited to be celebrating Ben’s fourth birthday today.

Ben’s stats:

  • Weight: hopefully more than 33 pounds {this is so out of date!}
  • Height: around 41 inches {also out of date!}
  • Clothing size: 4T on top, 2T shorts, 3T pants
  • Shoe size: size 9 toddler
  • Favorite foods: crackers, pasta, any type of cheese, yogurt, smoothies, cottage cheese, most meats, roasted chickpeas
  • Favorite activities while in quarantine: playing with his stuffies, listening to music, playing outside, picking wildflowers, riding his two-wheel pedal bike, reading books together or looking at books independently, getting lost in his imagination, watching The Octonauts.

The last quarter of Ben’s fourth year has been spent entirely in quarantine at The Lodge, with the exception of one week. Ben has been such a trooper as we abruptly adjusted to this strange new normal. His whole world was turned upside down on a moment’s notice and you’d hardly know by how he responded.

Exploring in nature is something that seems to comes naturally to children. Throughout our time living in the mountains these last {almost} three months Ben has discovered and cultivated a love of flowers and plants. He has a keen eye for wildflowers and we’ve enjoyed taking wildflower hikes and identifying what we’ve found.

Some of his favorite things to do right now include playing pretend in his “house” {the space under a large tree in our yard}, digging in the dirt, swinging on the swing, going on mountain adventures and playing in water – the sprinkler, water table, spigot….

Ben is doing an exceptional job of just being a kid. All he wants to do is play.

That said, our academic progress this spring has certainly tapered off. Ben had zero interest in doing the remote learning videos or associated worksheets from his school to make up for time lost in class.

Certainly Ben’s personality is still forming and emerging; however, we’ve gotten to know him quite well over these last four years. Ben is empathetic, kind, aloof, curious, focused, independent, strong-willed, charming and loving. He is energetic and social and he leans towards the introverted end of the spectrum. Ben is also really funny and has begun occasionally speaking in a different accent.

Ben is quite athletic and loves to run around, climb things, play baseball, kick his soccer ball, ride his two-wheel pedal bike and play catch with a ball or Frisbee.

We even managed to get in a couple ski days at the very beginning of our time in quarantine. Ben LOVES skiing.

Another favorite physical activity Ben enjoys is dancing! I’ve noticed on our hikes lately that when he gets really excited or finds a patch of beautiful wildflowers he will just break into a dance. He has always really enjoyed music and we love to have little family dance parties.

Speaking of hiking, this is a new favorite activity of Ben’s. He has been really into our hiking adventures and loves being a walker.

These days Ben is off in his own world a lot of the time. He has a wild imagination and loves to let it run. It’s perfect for quarantine because he can create scenes in his mind where his favorite characters come to life and are playing with him. Right now his absolute favorite show is Octonauts on Netflix.

Baking has been another favorite pastime we’ve all enjoyed together recently. We’ve made countless loaves of banana bread, poked holes in focaccia bread and pulled together our famous Friday night pizza dough about a dozen times this last quarter. I’m not sure how many cookies or cupcakes we’ve made – I’ve lost track!

Ben is really starting to develop patience and understanding for the process of baking. He’s building awareness and the ability to slowly mix with control so the ingredients don’t go everywhere. His absolute favorite thing to do regarding baking is the decorating.

For years now I’ve said Ben is as sweet as they come and I really mean it. He’s extremely loving and affectionate and absolutely adores his little sister. I can’t get enough of the two of them playing together.

Now that Hannah is working so hard at becoming a talker, sometimes Ben tries to be an interpreter. He’ll often say something like “I think Hannah means….” or “I have absolutely no idea what Hannah is talking about!” He’s quick to be her little cheerleader to encourage her when she uses the potty.

Lately Ben has been in an adventurous eating phase and has been very eager to try new foods. I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out with our garden this summer. Hopefully with his involvement in the growth of several vegetables he’ll be inclined to give them a try.

I don’t feel like we’ve hit the “why” phase where 10,000 times a day Ben asks “why?” He’s extremely curious and asks really thoughtful questions, but it’s not always “why?” A lot of times he’ll just ask “Is a narwhal a type of whale?” or “where do coyotes sleep?” or “can you show me a picture of a houseboat?” His questions often end up being more along the “how” lines than the “why” lines. I will say, though, that I love his inquisitions and find it so fascinating to see how he processes new information.

Ben has done a lot of growing up this year. I have heard that age four is oftentimes quite a magical one, and we’re quite looking forward to it. I enjoyed so much about age three and it’s been a rather humbling experience to navigate my little threenager. We are so excited to get to know Ben as a four-year old. He has so much to look forward to this year!

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 12

Our twelfth week at The Lodge was one filled with activity and adventure. There was hiking and trail running, sprinklers and projects galore. Each day we’re realizing just how much we can do without getting into a car.

That said, mid-last week I did pile the kids in the car and we headed into Leavenworth to go for a very kid-friendly hike at Leavenworth Ski Hill.

The wildflowers were abundant and both kids were so excited to be out on a hike. It was a very special memory.

I took the kids on a big running excursion early in the week. There was a road marked on Google Maps as a road but I ended up finding out that it was a private driveway. Nonetheless, we made it almost to the top of that ridge and had the most breathtaking views.

Are the views better when you’ve worked really hard for them? Ben and I were both disappointed when we came across the property owners and had to turn around, not far from the top. I worked SO hard to push that dang stroller up the gravel road and it was a big letdown not to have been able to complete our mission.

The rest of the week we had to make up for it so we continued to scout out new adventures. Memorial Day weekend brought us two family hikes, a bike ride for Alex and the kids, and a run/hike combo for me!

Together as a family we tried to hike up the ridge that our house overlooks, but we failed to find the trail. The hike ended up becoming a long walk with hiking backpacks on.

The next day we hiked up Beaver Hill, which was a quick and steep jaunt. Ben was a walker and loved every minute.

Alex got clearance from his doctor last week for bike riding after his knee injury {he dislocated his knee in early March} so he finally brought his bike out from Seattle and has been loving getting back into cycling. On Monday he took the kids on a bike ride near our house and they had a blast. He took zero pictures.

While Alex was riding his bike with the kids I went for a run/hike with my friend Joanna. She took me up the ridge that overlooks the Wenatchee River and our house and the valley we live in.

The hike up the ridge was brutal. It was a game trail and it felt like we were going straight up a cliff. It was so steep and overgrown and it was not what I had expected at all.

The view from the top of the ridge was absolutely breathtaking. Once we found ourselves at the summit of the first ridge we were able to run up to the top of the next ridge. From there, we ended up winding our way down the other side of the ridge and running home on the road. It became quite an adventure!

In other news, we accomplished a few small projects in the yard over the course of the week. Alex helped me put up the tomato cages and now that I have a good grasp of where everything is planted I traded out my little craft sticks for some cuter plant markers. We have a few vegetable starts in the garden, which are fun to look at, and quite a few little sprouts popping up.

We also planted 38 dahlia tubers and I can hardly contain my excitement for when they start growing. I just hope our dog doesn’t dig them all up first……

Our irrigation water got turned on last week so we’ve been able to run the sprinklers again. Alex spread a bunch of grass seed to over-seed the lawn and fill in some gopher holes and has been having fun driving his lawn tractor.

We completed the tiniest little project I can imagine, but sometimes those are the projects that end up making a really big impact. We have a little spigot out on the corner of the swing set that is perfect for filling up our watering cans, as it’s adjacent to the gardens. The trouble was that it would turn into a muddy puddle every time you turned the water on. The kids helped us collect some rocks and we put an extra patio paver down and voila! We worked together on a small project with huge results.

Hannah is the proud new owner of this fun tricycle, an early birthday gift from her grandparents. It’s a hotly contested item in our toddler household, but oh my goodness, she loves it.

In food-related news, I’ve been baking bread every day. It is such a siple pleasure I’m getting so much joy from. Also last week I made our first watermelon, feta salad with mint from our garden. Ben said “Mama that salad looks SO delicious!” It was.

One of the biggest, most special highlights from the week was the absolutely incredible rainbow we saw. It was the most perfect rainbow I think I have ever seen. We sat out on the deck just staring at it.

We’re starting this week out with all four of us home together! Alex took the week off of work, a MUCH needed break for both of us. We are so looking forward to spending more time just the four of us and get out for a few mid-week outings. Also this week, we will be celebrating Ben’s fourth birthday on Sunday!