Hello Preschool!

This week marks Hannah’s first day of preschool! This year Hannah will be attending a local forest preschool two days a week. She’s in a class with ten kiddos and they spend their days outdoors in the mountains!

Beginning preschool is a huge milestone for Hannah, as she’s never been in a school or childcare setting, and honestly hardly away from home or family. I was really, really uncertain how she would do at drop-off. We practiced and practiced and practiced for probably a month leading up to her first day.

The morning of her first day her excitement turned into nervousness and she was very apprehensive, even as we pulled in. I spent a few minutes with her at the gate and once it was time for me to go I said goodbye and she walked right in. She didn’t even say goodbye to me!

{Behind Hannah is the home base for her class. They meet here, have free play and then go out for a hike or an adventure somewhere else on the incredible property!}

I got a really encouraging report from her teacher from her first day and Hannah said she loved it. She even said it felt really quick when I came back to pick her up. I think she is going to really, really thrive here and I just cannot wait to see how her year goes.

Hello Kindergarten!

It’s official! We have a Kindergartener! Last week Ben had his first day of Kindergarten at his new school.

Ben will be going to our neighborhood school, classified as a “remote but necessary” schoolhouse. Literally it’s a two-room schoolhouse! The school has two teachers and two classrooms, one for K-1 and the other for 2-5, though there are only second and third graders there.

This school is quite unique and very, very special we have come to realize. They pride themselves on teaching in a rather hands-on, nature-based way. Ben’s first field trip will be going on a hike! That said, this will be our second year sending our child to school amidst a global pandemic. Covid cases are extremely high in our area right now and we’re so grateful that the school is requiring masks on kiddos and teachers, regardless of vaccination status. The school is working to mitigate some risk by spending as much time outside as possible, especially while the weather is nice.

We’re so fortunate we can walk {or bike!} through our field + our next-door neighbor’s, then about two more blocks. Easy peasy! I love hearing the school bell dinging during the day.

All of us ran through the gamut of emotions about Ben beginning Kindergarten. It happened so fast. How did he go from a 3 pound preemie to a Kindergartener already!?

He was so ready. SO ready. In so many ways. It’s the beginning of the rest of his life right now. In my mind, he just transitioned from a little kid to a big, school-age kid and that is a huge deal.

As a parent, I see everything on the horizon. I’m trying to focus on all of the wonderful, exciting things instead of the crazy scary things. New friendships, the opportunity to play sports {soccer started last week!}, learning to read, widening his mind and continued exploration. All the things.

With any transition there are bound to be challenges, so we’ll take them as they come. I’m just so excited for Ben and what lies ahead.

Meet Brooks!

It feels a little funny having such a quick turnaround from losing Jackson to welcoming a new puppy into our family, but we’re doing it! Let me introduce you to Brooks, the newest member of our little family.

My friend Kelsey was quick to say it’s never too soon to add more love in your life and she’s absolutely right. Our life with Jackson was so wonderful we just didn’t want to go another day without a dog.

It’s meant to be, said my friend Kailey, when I shared the news that the same breeder we got Jackson from had an available boy pup in less than two weeks. It sure feels like it, now that Brooks is home with us.

The kids are bonkers for him!

Both of them are great with Brooks in their own ways. It’s been really special to see this. I think five is a fantastic age for a puppy, actually.

Brooks is carrying out the ski theme we’ve chosen to name our dogs with. Brooks is the name of a chairlift and area at Stevens Pass, our local ski resort.

Brooks is SO sweet and surprisingly relaxed for a puppy. We are so, so happy to have him in our lives. We can’t wait for all the adventures he will be able to join us on… stay tuned!

Mountain Life: Spring/Summer Update

I’ve gotten quite behind on posting lately and am trying to catch up! Here’s another photo dump of what we’ve been up to since moving to the mountains.

We moved out here early May and we’re absolutely still getting settled. It feels like there is random stuff everywhere. Merging two houses into one is quite a task. Alex took on the brunt of the physical tasks, while also managing the start of building our garage + guesthouse project and working full-time. Needless to say, he was exhausted.

Our house in Seattle is officially sold and closed in early July. We’re so grateful for a quick turnaround so we can focus on this next chapter in the mountains. Alex and I went back before the closing to clear the last bits of our personal belongings out and say hi/bye to a few friends and neighbors.

Alex’s parents were here for quite a while just after we moved. We had such a lovely time with them and the kids made oodles of memories with their Grammy and Papa.

Alex’s sister joined us for Memorial Day weekend to celebrate Ben’s birthday, too! It feels extra special to be able to see family again.

We did all the things with family. Beach days, hikes, bike rides galore. So. Much. Fun.

Alex, the kids and I took a trip to Suncadia, a mountain resort south of us, for a week in early June. The kids loved swimming in the amazing pool!

Alex and I managed to sneak out for a couple days to an adults-only hotel in Leavenworth for a little mini-vacay, too! It was so nice to switch gears and change our focus and do some things we haven’t been able to do for a while with the kids. We had our first indoor dining experiences, got to enjoy the hotel’s seven steam rooms/saunas and take all the long walks we wanted.

Mountain biking has become quite a hobby of Alex’s this summer. It’s been a wonderful way for him to explore and stay active, and also spend time with some new friends.

I’ve been a little incapacitated this summer, unfortunately. I haven’t been able to run for several weeks and am doing some physical therapy right now to strengthen and rehabilitate my atrophying mombod. Hoping to be able to start running very short distances in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’ve been *loving* biking with Hannah in the little bike seat.

We broke ground on our garage + guesthouse project back in early June. It’s been sloooow going. When it’s complete, we’ll have an oversized 3-bay garage with a 1,200 square foot apartment above it. We’re SO excited.

It was SO HOT for a solid 10 days. We were extremely grateful for the kids to have swimming lessons during the heat wave. We managed to keep cool with lots of ice pops, slushies, a few ice cream cones and our air conditioning.

Lately, our days have been filled with a trip into town for swimming lessons most days. We’re surrounded by water here in the mountains, with some major rivers passing through, so building up my kiddos swimming strength is a top priority.

We’re also enjoying getting ice cream, mini golfing, riding bikes, going to the local farmers markets, spending the morning at the beach and riding bikes to the bookmobile. You can read about our big road trip to Jackson Hole here, too!

It’s been such a wonderful summer so far. We are SO, SO happy living in the mountains. The community here is so lovely and life feels so calm and peaceful. We absolutely love it.

Hannah is THREE!

Three! Our girl is finally three! She’s been acting like it for a while and now it’s officially here. Boy oh boy am I curious to see what Hannah is like as a three-year old.

Hannah’s three-year stats:

  • Weight: about 34 pounds
  • Length: around 38″ {90th percentile}
  • Clothing 4T
  • Shoe size: toddler size 7
  • Favorite foods: watermelon, ICE CREAM, blackberries, strawberries, smoothies, oatmeal, any sweet treat
  • Least favorite foods: beef, most vegetables
  • Favorite things/activities: playing with her dollhouse, watching her Kindle, playing with her “kiddos,” reading books, running, dancing, riding her scooter, doing anything art-related
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, stopping doing something fun, leaving somewhere, not getting what she wants

Hannah is an absolute blast. She is really funny and always has just the right thing to say. She likes to make sure everyone knows the rules, then makes sure to not follow them herself.

Hannah is amazingly independent and loves to play. She loves to turn anything into her “kiddos” and if she finds four of any object {literally anything… cars, animals, specks of crumbs…} they instantly become a family and she takes care of them.

She’s not picky with her toys. She loves dolls, cars, figurines, art projects, miscellaneous objects in nature – you name it!

Anything Hannah does, she does it with purpose and attitude. She is quite bright and is always paying attention.

This summer it has been so much fun watching Hannah become quite comfortable in the pool. She *loves* to swim.

She’s also gotten much more interested in her bike lately. She is really getting comfortable with it and is beginning to balance.

Hannah always wants to be involved in whatever is going on. She is quite helpful and quick to grab her step stool to get a boost up at the counter so she can join in the action.

This last month has been a little tough for her – she’s really feeling all the things she’s not ready to do but sees her brother do them {riding a two-wheel pedal bike for a long distance, really advancing in swimming lessons, etc.}. She’s also been really missing her dog and her grandparents.

I’ve said this for quite a while – Hannah is a ferocious spitfire. Her personality is so dynamic. She’s so timid, yet so fierce and bold, she is confident and knows what she wants, she’s quite funny, extremely loving and nurturing. We’re working on channeling her energy in really sweet, positive ways and helping her use kind words all the time.

We’re having so much fun with Hannah. She’s really maturing, but at the same time, acting like such a three-year old. We’re so ready to see what’s in store for three-year old Hannah! So, so much to look forward to.

Hannah is two

Hannah is one

Hannah’s birth story

Family Road Trip 2021

Spontaneous is not really a word I’d use to describe myself, but, our family recently returned from an extremely impromptu road trip that took us out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and back!

{All of us at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park}

The trip was absolutely incredible. I’m going to use this post as more of a photo dump than anything, but my goodness, it was wonderful.

{Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone}

We left our house on a Saturday and made the short 4-hour drive to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho the first day. We stayed overnight there and enjoyed the afternoon at a huge park right by CDA Lake.

{First pit stop on the trip, overlooking the Columbia River.}
{Coeur d’Alene Lake – absolutely stunning}

The next day we got to pass through Missoula on the way, then met Alex’s friend, Kelli’s new baby once we arrived in Bozeman for the night.

Monday brought us to Yellowstone National Park. Wow. Just wow. I had been there about 15 years prior, but had a whole different route and agenda. What an incredible place.

{Mammoth Hot Springs}
{The beauty of The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is truly breathtaking.}
{We did Uncle Tom’s hike to Artist Point on the south side of the waterfall. I’d highly recommend it, though it is a bit precarious with little kiddos. There are almost no railings anywhere and it’s quite exposed. We ended up carrying our kids almost the whole way.}
{A really, really big highlight for us all was the wildlife we saw on our trip! We saw several herds of bison, coyote, pikas, deer, elk, antelope, and MOOSE!}
{We couldn’t have timed it better for Old Faithful!}
{The hot springs were so fun for us to see.}
{The Grand Prismatic Spring. I was most excited to see this – what a unique and stunning natural beauty.}
{Maybe one day Hannah will look at the camera!}
{Our pack mule!}

We powered through Yellowstone {gosh we did SO much} all the way to Teton Village, Wyoming, where we’d spend the next few days.

{The tram 2.0 was down on the ground and we got to pop inside! My dad was a Jackson Hole tram operator back in the day and this was the tram he ran.}

Jackson Hole is such a special place. Alex and I had been skiing there several times, and I’d been there once in the summer before.

{Alex spent part of one day mountain biking while the kids and I hung around the village.}
{Bungee trampoline!}

While we were in Jackson we decided to make the short drive up to Grand Teton National Park. The beauty of the Tetons is absolutely striking.

{Mormon Row – it was quite hazy that morning so we didn’t get to take in the full effect.}
{Jenny Lake}

Thursday quickly rolled around and we decided to power through and drive the entire way home in one day. The drive was a bit longer than 12 hours and I am still marveling at how well the kids did in the car.

We had an absolutely fantastic time on our trip. Ben and Hannah were such troopers and they loved our time in Jackson Hole! It was really fun for them to stay in hotels and experience so many different things. I’m excited for our next one!

Remembering Jackson

A few weeks ago our sweet dog, Jackson, caught his last ball and went for his last walk. He was battling an aggressive cancer and was showing early signs of internal bleeding. Before it got too bad, we made the incredibly difficult decision to say goodbye.

I truly can’t imagine a better family dog than Jackson. He was always around, no matter where or when. He was so loyal, loving and protective. We will always remember our sweet pup.

Alex and I got Jackson when he was a little 8-week old pup. He was so easy to train and we bonded with him so quickly. He’s always been our little bud.

Such a cuddle bug from day one!

We have so many memories of taking Jackson on hikes, swimming and on so many trips with us.

{Jackson with his buddy Berkeley!}

It warms our hearts that he made it long enough to formally live in the mountains. He was so happy here – honestly, I think he was the happiest of us all to be in the mountains.

Our whole family is still reeling from the loss of Jackson. He was such a major part of our family and we’re honestly just devastated. Still. It’s hard to go up to bed at night without him and there are so many constant reminders that he’s not here anymore. His life was far too short.

We’re so, so, so very grateful for our eight years together and we have so many memories to cherish forever. We miss you, Jackie Boy!

Ben is FIVE!

Ben turned five on Memorial Day! Everyone keeps commenting on how FIVE is “such a big age.” And at first I really didn’t think much of it, but I feel like it’s such a turning point in childhood. Our sweet boy has hit that milestone – he’s officially five years old!

Ben’s stats:

  • Weight: around 34 pounds {as of late August – 20-30th percentile}
  • Height: about 42 inches {as of a couple months ago – 50-60th percentile}
  • Clothing size: 5T
  • Shoe size: size 11 {officially in “little kid sizes!}
  • Favorite foods: crackers, pasta, any type of cheese
  • Favorite activities: playing outside, picking wildflowers, climbing, running, riding his bike and scooter, doing art projects, playing pretend, building with blocks, reading stories….

Ben spent his whole fifth year of life living in a pandemic and I am amazed at how well he navigated the challenges.

Ben’s personality is quite dynamic. He is truly as sweet as they come. If Ben is in a great mood, there’s no one I’d rather be around more. He is extremely loving, compassionate and empathetic.

He builds relationships with kids and adults very quickly and is always the first to say hello, whether to a neighbor across the way, a friend as they come into school together, or a total stranger on the sidewalk or at the beach. Ben’s pre-kindergarten teacher mentioned how much this set the tone for the camaraderie in his class this year.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Ben’s stuffy, Teddy, in this post. Teddy goes everywhere with Ben.

Ben is also quite mercurial, though his personality, as of late, seems to be leveling out a bit more. He really wears his heart out on his sleeve.

I still consider Ben to be the most physically active child I’ve ever encountered, though now meeting more friends in the mountains, it sounds like he’ll be in good company here. Ben needs to run. He needs to climb, he needs to wiggle and fidget and move.

One of Ben’s absolute favorite things continues to be riding his bike. He is FAST. This is a huge confidence booster for him, too.

Alex has been taking Ben mountain biking at Ski Hill as often as possible and that’s been a really special bonding time for the two of them.

Skiing is another major love of Ben’s. He’s mastered the art of going down as fast as he possibly can… buttttt…. he has not figured out how to stop! I guess we’ll table that for next winter.

Currently, Ben wants to be a meteorologist when he grows up. He is so fascinated by weather and asks all the questions about storms and clouds and just wants to know everything. The way he processes things and his general curiosity amazes me.

Another major interest of Ben’s continues to be flowers and nature. He has such a knack for picking the most beautiful bouquets of wildflowers. And his memory! I can’t believe how well he remembers the names of the wildflowers.

Speaking of Ben’s memory, it is sharp. Don’t ever try to slide one past him. He’ll remember. We’re curious if he has a photographic memory, actually. The level of detail he can recall is unbelievable.

I can’t believe our sweetest boy will be starting kindergarten in the fall. It’s impossible to think of his birthday and not remember back to how things started with our 3 pound 3 ounce preemie. He’s overcome so much in these five short years and I’m so excited to watch him as a five year old!

Ben is one

Ben is two

Ben is three

Ben is four

PNW Adventure: Daffodils & Camano Island

Spring in Washington state means flowers, flowers, flowers! We are so fortunate to have a bounty of daffodils and tulips up in the northwest corner of the state in a little area called Skagit Valley.

The tulip festival, usually in April, draws a massive crowd, so we got ahead of it by making the trek up north for the daffodils in March instead. {I know, I know, I’m so late posting this, but it was such a special day I wanted to share it and save it for myself.}

The daffodils were exceptional, and the weather held out for us too! By some miracle, my flower loving child managed to fully restrain himself from picking a single daffodil.

After our flower excursion, we grabbed lunch and went to meet some of our dearest friends at Iverson Preserve, one of the rare sandy beaches on Camano Island.

Our friends, Carrie and Patrick, were both fully vaccinated at the time and it was our first “normal” feeling social experience in the pandemic. Carrie and Patrick were among our first friends when we moved to Seattle – Carrie was one of my bridesmaids and we all quickly became ski buddies, spending our pre-kid winter weekends chasing Patrick down the mountains. Kiddos, distance {they now live on Camano Island} and the pandemic have forced us to spend far less time together these last couple years.

Nowadays, our oldest kiddos are a month apart in age, and their youngest is a year younger than Hannah. It was so special to get them together again and watch them run around at the beach.

One of Ben’s absolute favorite places is the beach, so combine that with flowers and it is a perfect day for our sweet boy. He really needed that win!

Hannah was really getting after it at the beach, too. She and Roslyn were tossing rocks into the approaching tide and trying very hard to keep their pant legs dry!

We finished our beach day with a bike ride/walk through the Hobbit Trail.

It was so fun – there were overgrown branches that created an almost tunnel-like fortress. People have left little gnomes and trolls along the trail, hidden for little eyes to discover.

We had such a special day seeing flowers, the beach, and most of all, our friends.

PNW Adventure: Scenic Beach

Mid-March I was ready to lose my mind with pandemic boredom and monotony. We spent most of the month of March in Seattle, so we planned a big/little day trip over to Hood Canal!

Our trip started with the kiddos first big ferry ride. This time we got to get out of the car and go inside the ferry. We took the ferry from downtown Seattle over to Bainbridge Island.

We made a quick stop in Bainbridge Island to pick up some always needed coffee and some delicious sandwiches at Hitchcock Deli.

Of course being March in the Pacific Northwest we knew the odds were against a perfectly sunny day {though it was the day before} and we prepared for rain. And rain is what we got.

Despite the wet weather we had a blast. The beach was perfect. And the rain kept everyone else away.

I couldn’t believe how many oyster shells we found. They were spectacularly beautiful and provided such a lovely variety.

The kids absolutely loved Scenic Beach and really just had the time of their lives. They couldn’t care less it was pouring and we were soaked {even though they were in full rain suits!}

We’d love to go back on a clear day to see what’s beyond the fog.