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!

Hannah is 22 Months!

Our Hannie girl is 22-months old and is growing up right before our eyes in the mountains. This is the third month-by-month update I’ve done for her while we’ve been social distancing at The Lodge. She truly is going to be a different kid whenever it is we move back home to Seattle! I wonder if she’ll remember our house and our cat and our neighborhood?

Hannah’s 22-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 5 – new slip-on Crocs this month!
  • Number of teeth: thirteen, with #14 almost all the way in
  • Favorite foods: smoothies, pasta, cheese, any fruit, cottage cheese, 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

This has been a really big and fun developmental month for Hannah. She’s made some really significant language leaps, as well as physical leaps with potty training and coordination.

Some of my favorite things Hannah is saying right now:

  • “Mama! Watch me!” {or Dada, Ben or Puppy}
  • “Mama, I want {insert name of what she wants}”
  • “Ben see!” {she always wants to show Ben whatever she finds}

Hannah has been talking SO MUCH lately. Her vocabulary is exploding. She has been repeating words a lot and I’d estimate she’s using between 2-5 new words a day.

So many times during the day Hannah runs through the list of people in our family, including “Puppy” {what she calls Jackson} to inquire about everyone’s whereabouts, if they have a certain body part, if they like a certain thing or if they want a certain thing. Occasionally she’ll add names of people she knows, like Shelly, our mail carrier, or Kelly, our next door neighbor, or Dan, the horse across the street.

When something is in context I usually know what she’s talking about but Hannah goes off on these tangents and she’ll just be talking and talking and talking and you can pick out a few words here and there, but overall it’s anyone’s best guess what she’s saying. It is absolutely precious seeing how much she has to say. I only wish I knew what more of the words were.

One day last week something clicked with Hannah and potty training. We’re taking an extremely laissez faire approach to potty training our youngest and are just hoping she figures it out herself. Turns out, she is!

She is certainly not potty trained by any stretch of the imagination, but she’s well on her way. It helps that she wants nothing to do with diapers.

Hannah is crazy about her “Puppy,” as she affectionately calls Jackson. She wants to take him for walks, she constantly calls him to come in for a treat and she just loves on him like he’s her best friend. She has a huge heart for animals.

Hannah has always been very independent in certain ways. Lately she’s started to try to get herself dressed. She will sit on the ground, completely focused, and try to put on her pants or a sock or a shirt on as pants for a really long time. Her natural resilience is impressive! I’m often floored at how persistent she is without getting frustrated.

This girl is my little helper. When she notices something out of place, like the corner of the rug is flipped up, for example, or if something gets caught in a drawer and is sticking out, she’s at the ready to fix it. Hannie is always first in line with the step stool when there is something going on in the kitchen. I think she’s hoping to be the first to steal some of the sweet treats or pick olives off the pizza we’re trying to make.

Hannah is extremely strong-willed. She wins the award for most stubborn family member and it’s a hotly contended one, with her father being the runner up. I can only imagine what Hannie will be like as a teenager. She’s tough and she wants to have a good time. She knows what she wants and how to get it. She is extremely bright and cheery and friendly and just delightful to be around. Her laugh is music to my ears and she smiles with her whole body.

That said, she’s a force to be reckoned with. I will do absolutely everything to help her become a confident woman, because if she has confidence, man oh man this girl can do absolutely anything. She has a very bright future ahead.

Alex and I just cannot get enough of this girl. She is a whirlwind and a complete spitfire and my goodness her personality is just so much fun. She’s going to be a party girl for sure.

Ben is 22 months old

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 11

We’re in our eleventh week here at The Lodge. Certainly by now we’ve adjusted to this strange “normal” we’ve all found ourselves in. We haven’t done any recent outings, aside from a drive to the gas station to fill up the gas can for the lawn mower. Last week was pretty mellow and we enjoyed celebrating Alex’s birthday on Saturday, baking up a storm and a surprise middle-of-the night visitor.

This week’s blog post will be brought to you in the form of a picture diary.

The weather was really mixed last week. We had a few cozy rainy days and some unbelievable warm and sunny days.

The rain and sun sure have helped the wildflowers grow, so we’ve been adventuring through our forest.

These two are really forming a sweet bond amidst this family time. I feel so grateful that they have each other to pal around with. Hannah always wants Ben to watch her do something – “Ben! Watch me!”

This beauty here is my bucket of bread dough. I’m following the “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” method of mixing up a big batch of wet dough, storing it in the fridge and pulling off a hunk to bake every day.

Here’s my hunk, formed into a ball.

After it rested for a while I cut slashes to help it rise in the oven.

She bakes right here on our fancy cast iron pizza pan, complete with a little water in the baking sheet below {to create steam} for about 35 minutes or so.

Voila! Fresh bread. It has been extremely special to have fresh, homemade bread every day. It feels so luxurious while also feeling completely down-to-earth. I absolutely love this.

I also got to whip up an extravagant chocolate pie for Alex’s birthday, which we celebrated on Saturday. It tasted even better on Sunday!

Alex’s family “joined” us on Zoom for the cutting of the pie. It was a very low-key day. I think the highlight for Alex was our adult dinner/date night post-kid bedtime that evening.

More on Alex, his hair has grown quite long and he grew a quarantine beard. We squeezed in an at-home haircut and now he’s slightly more presentable.

I had no idea what I was doing and lost interest about three minutes in, so hopefully it’s a while before his next trim.

I am also in dire need of a haircut but I’m probably a few months out from my next trim {I guess it’ll be a “chop” by the time I get in}. I did; however, take some “taking care of me Thursday” time to myself and did my nails and a little face mask.

One morning last week we awoke to an easy-to-solve mystery! The bird feeders had been pulled out of the trees and our garbage can was on its side. We pulled up our security footage and quickly confirmed we’d had a little bear visitor overnight. None of our neighbors who we’ve spoken with have ever had experience here with bears coming to their homes {bobcats, coyotes and deer – that’s another story!} so we were a bit surprised.

Stroller snacks are both a high and a low of the day. There’s usually arguing and incessant requests to stop for no reason, but, hey, I’m getting a two-mile walk or a 3-4+ mile run every day, so I’ll deal. Plus, one day last week while out for our stroller snack I met a neighbor who is a mom of four and a big runner.

Joanna, our neighbor, took me up a forest service road just up the ridge to our east for an absolutely incredible 7-mile run on Sunday. It was a major highlight of the week for me. The trail was a gravel road so we were able to maintain our physical distance.

Alex and Ben had a blast mowing the lawn on Friday evening. It looked SO good when they were done.

Check out that fresh cut grass!

A week after planting our seeds we got our first little sprout!

And that’s a wrap on the week and our seeds! They all arrived and we got everything planted. Tomatoes still need to go in the ground and I’ll continue to plant lettuce and carrots to have a rotation of the crops. In any case, it’s been a great week and we can’t wait to start harvesting…

What We’ve Been Eating in Quarantine

This post is by request of a few friends, and also, because most of my non-kid thoughts are about what the heck we’re going to eat while in quarantine. I love hearing what other people are making for dinner and how folks are being more creative in the kitchen so I thought I’d share some of our culinary feats.

I’ve surprised myself how resourceful I’ve been these last few months and it’s been quite a welcome challenge. I’m cooking for a family of four with two toddlers who have rather different palates from each other and we’re aiming to make our groceries last around two weeks, so really, the challenge is on.

I’m thinking of doing a little series about what we’ve been eating and some of our meal plans and how I’m stocked up and structuring our meals. This post is very general and as time allows I’ll add to the series and maybe even break things down by meal. Stay tuned!

Some of my most favorite quarantine meals have been:

  • Homemade pizza {try this dough recipe – it makes enough for two pizzas – I freeze half for next week — just pull it out of the freezer a day in advance and pop it in the fridge}
  • Simple tortellini with pesto, pine nuts, feta and cherry tomatoes {this turns into a lovely pasta salad the next day — add cucumbers, Kalamata olives, too!}
  • Avocado toast – great for any meal or snack of the day {use crispy sourdough-ish toast, slather with fresh avocado, sprinkle with salt and, if you have it, a squeeze of lemon}
  • Focaccia bread {really fun to make with toddlers!}
  • Banana bread
  • Sweet potato, black bean and corn quesadillas {roast diced sweet potatoes with a little taco seasoning and combine with black beans & frozen corn on a quesadilla}
  • Kelsey’s Chickpea & Feta Salad {recipe at bottom of post}
  • Nicoise salad – try this recipe
  • Tuna noodle salad {recipe at bottom of post}
  • Bacon, egg & biscuit breakfast sandwiches {a LONGTIME favorite recipe of mine – biscuits are SO easy to make! Improvise however you need here.}

How we’ve been grocery shopping

Largely we’ve been doing a big stock-up about every two weeks. It’s challenging to shop that infrequently because very little produce lasts anywhere near as long as I’d like it to. A mental exercise I go through most days is how to use up the produce that will spoil first and save the longer-lasting items for a meal at the end of our second week.

Fruits:

  • Berries for immediate use.
  • Pineapple, unripe mango for a few days or even a week down the road.
  • Bananas with a variety of ripeness – I’ve largely just been using bananas for smoothies and banana bread, so it’s okay if they brown.
  • Unripe pears for early in the second week.
  • Avocado – I’ve been buying a big bag or two of five avocados and trying my best to get them to ripen at different times. A friend mentioned you can freeze them in their skin at the peak of ripeness – try this and make some guacamole.
  • Mandarin oranges and apples have been in heavy rotation for the second week.
  • Frozen fruit for our daily smoothies.

Vegetables:

  • Springtime favorites for me include asparagus, green beans and snap peas – I’ve been using these up in my first week.
  • Fresh greens to be used up in the first couple days so I try to plan a salad or two for right after I get my grocery haul.
  • Packaged greens {like a plastic container of spinach} usually have a few extra days.
  • Carrots and sweet potatoes help us get to the two-week mark, or at least close to it. We’re loving brown butter carrots with thyme and sweet potato fries.
  • Onions, garlic and shallots are always something I have on hand.
  • We haven’t experimented much with any of the squash variety, though much of it has quite a lengthy shelf-life.
  • Our tiny little mountain town has a weekly farmers market and I’m planning on getting some greens more frequently there, as well as other fresh spring crops as they’re available, as I await my own harvest.
  • Herbs are now growing out on my deck so I have the luxury of snipping off some fresh basil or sage as needed.

Recipes

I’m not big on exact measurements with cooking. I’m more of a “add and see” how it tastes kind of cook. My friend Kelsey inspired the first salad and my friend Sarah’s mom and my dad inspired the tuna salad – I really don’t know what to call it. My dad grew up eating tuna salad every Sunday, so I combined his recipe with my friend Sarah’s mom’s and added a few of my own things!

Kelsey’s Chickpea & Feta Salad

  • Chickpeas (a can, rinsed)
  • Chickpeas (roasted – a really generous handful)
  • Farro (cooked – I used 1/2 cup, uncooked) – original recipe uses Bulgar wheat
  • Fresh dill, chopped
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved – original recipe uses bell peppers
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • Shallot (1/2 of a shallot, finely chopped)
  • Feta – lots! – chopped

Dressing

  • Lemon
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Garlic (I used two cloves)
  • Olive oil

Combine salad ingredients – add greens if desired. Drizzle with dressing and enjoy!

Tuna Noodle Salad

  • 12 to 16 oz of pasta, cooked per package, rinsed to cool
  • 2 cans of tuna, drained
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup pickle relish
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • hard boiled eggs, peeled & chopped – I used 4
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together, enjoy!

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 10

It’s been another exciting week over here in quarantine. We started planting our vegetable garden, Alex got a lawn tractor, we went to the BEACH {!!!!!} and we had a wonderful weekend celebrating Mother’s Day.

Early last week we entered into “phase one” of our state’s re-opening. Mostly it opened up some outdoor recreation opportunities with social distancing. Included in this was the re-opening of Lake Wenatchee State Park, a hop, skip and a jump away from our house.

Our family has years of memories of visiting Lake Wenatchee State Park – well before Ben and Hannah were a part of our lives. It is one of my favorite places and I think the kids feel the same.

On Thursday afternoon I packed the kids in the car and we went to the beach at Lake Wenatchee State Park. The weather was perfect for a beach trip.

The kids and I had a really wonderful time. It felt almost normal, amidst the pandemic. Ben is very aware of what’s going on; however, he’s still working on impulse control so he had quite a few reminders to stay away from other people.

Our outing made me hopeful for more weekday and family outings to local state parks and hiking trails this spring and summer. It also made me realize {again} how much I take things for granted. I never expected our favorite state park to be unavailable for us to visit. I assumed it would always be there for us to enjoy.

Late in the week we received the special delivery of our new lawn tractor {also known as a riding lawn mower}! The grassy yard on our property is around a half an acre so it’ll be handy to have a riding lawn mower to speed up the job a bit. I’m not sure who was more excited for the tractor – Ben or Alex!

This week we got stocked up on food again, thanks to a grocery order and Seattle trip for Alex. We’ve been eating all of the veggies this week and what a treat that’s been. I made some really fun salads and found out Ben LOVES farro!

Late in the week we had a Zoom call with the incoming Pre-K and Kindergarten classes, as well as teachers and some administration, at the school Ben will be attending next year. It’s a new school for him and it was really exciting to get to virtually meet the other families.

Our weekend was extra special since it was Mother’s Day.

We’re starting to get our weekends dialed in and realized that one of our first agenda items for weekends is getting Alex some one-on-one time with Ben. It doesn’t seem to matter what they do together but they’ve got to kick of the weekend with some father/son time.

I sure love that because I get some much needed one-on-one time with my Hannah girl.

Ben and I get a lot of solo time while Hannah naps and I sure do get a lot of Hannah time, but it’s different when I’m also paying attention to or keeping an eye on Ben at the same time.

Alex took over cooking on Mother’s Day. I hadn’t realized how much I needed a break but it was such a treat to have someone else prepare all of the food and clean up all of the dishes all day long. I had cooked 189 consecutive meals {aside from snacks} while out here in quarantine.

We started the day out with homemade cinnamon rolls {our Christmas morning tradition}, had eggs Benedict for brunch and Alex’s burgers for dinner. I’ve always known Alex is quite a capable chef, but he really nailed it. Everything was delicious!

I got spoiled with cuddles and kisses and homemade flowers, I enjoyed a solo run followed by a shower {!} and planted a bunch of seeds and some of my vegetable starts in my garden.

We have a mini raised garden bed up on the deck that’s now home to some basil and lettuce starts, in addition to our two pots with other herbs. I carefully planted my green beans, snap peas, some carrots, radishes, green onions and some Nasturtium.

The weather was absolutely perfect. Really I couldn’t imagine better weather this weekend. The kids had a blast playing with the water table and running through the sprinkler. We’re living outside these days.

We finished off Mother’s Day with a little campfire and S’mores. The kids were so excited about the fire and S’mores they just could not sit still in their little camp chairs.

The days are sure blending together, though some stand out quite a bit. This last week and weekend was a standout one.

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 9

We’ve been out here at The Lodge now for more than eight weeks. This last week was a big one out here. We ventured out for our first family hike, filled up our raised vegetable garden beds with soil and did art out on the deck.

I had the soil for our raised garden beds delivered last week and promptly spread it out with Ben’s willing assistance.

It is so fulfilling to get things done in the yard. We’ve been weeding, weeding, weeding out here and my goodness it makes such a difference. I just love being able to stand back and see the hard work we’ve just finished.

My garden plans are completed and I’m awaiting one more thing for my beds before getting started planting the first round of my crop.

I read through “Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners” and learned a ton, mostly about planning my crops.

In other food news, we’re at the end of our two-week food supply and this week we had to get a bit creative. I’m pleased to say we still have plenty of fresh fruit {mandarin oranges, apples and brown bananas – perfect for smoothies}, so I’m delighted my planning paid off to allow for that 14 days in. We did run out of fresh veggies a few days ago, though we have a few frozen options.

A major highlight was baking focaccia bread. It was honestly some of the best bread Alex or I had ever had before. The kids LOVED poking holes in the bread and being a part of it. I just love that stuff too – now they know what focaccia is and how it was made. They gobbled it right up.

I’ve been refining my food and meal planning rhythm and may do a separate post about that. I took a few hours this week to come up with a meal planning template and a grocery shopping template. Our pantry and freezer supplies are dwindling and it’s helpful to have a checklist of some foods to keep on hand.

We’ve been all about baking around here. I tried to make pumpkin bread with Hannah; however, we did not get very far. Hannah grabbed the bowl and everything flew ALL OVER the kitchen. All I could do was laugh.

This last weekend was wonderful. The kids went in the car for the first time in seven weeks when we ventured out on a short drive to a nearby hike.

Our hike was the first family one of the season – I had taken the kids on a couple hikes before everything closed up shop. Hannah rode in the backpack and Ben was on foot for the first time on a family hike.

Another highlight this week was bringing the kids’ easel out to the deck for “art on the deck” day. The kids, Hannah in particular, were really into it. It’s amazing how big of an impact a scene change can make.

We did get our stay at home orders extended through May 31st; however, we’re on phase one of four phases towards re-opening the state. It’s hard to have any idea what that means or when we’ll go back to our life in Seattle. At this point we’re expecting we’ll be here through the summer.

Here’s to another week at home!

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 8

We re-stocked our fridge and pantry last week and I feel like we’re eating like kings! It’s revolutionary how my feelings and ideals surrounding food have shifted amidst the pandemic.

I feel so grateful to see a fruit bowl that has anything in it, as well as the option of asparagus or green beans {or more!} to choose from for dinner. We got a Costco size bag of chips, a weakness of mine, and my favorite bread this week. And a bag of avocados that were divine and about as perfect as avocados can get.

We enjoyed some baking projects with our new food haul. Our grocery shopper opted to get six half gallons of milk that expired in a mere three days. When life gives you about-to-expire milk, make ice cream! And pudding!

Another highlight from the week has been watching Ben ride his two-wheeler. He’s really getting the hang of it and is on the cusp of being able to get himself started without a little support. We took him into the street for the first time over the weekend and man, he is fast!

Of course Hannah wants to do all the things Ben is doing. While Ben cruised around on the street on his pedal bike I pushed Hannah on the balance bike.

These two are having all the fun playing in the dirt together. It’s basically a giant sandbox out by the garden beds and swing set so they can dig in the dirt for hours, it feels like.

I believe we’re nearly at the one-year mark for the kids’ swing set! My dad and brother came out last spring to build it for the kids and little Hannah wasn’t even crawling yet. It’s hard to believe a year later and she’s climbing up the ladder and wanting to swing across the monkey bars. Both kids LOVE the swing set. I get quite an arm workout from pushing them both in the swings.

It’s been so amazing for all of us to have Alex working from home and able to squeeze in a quick lunch or pop up for a coffee refill. The kids have been in such a “dada” mood lately and it’s been very sweet to see.

A fun little highlight for us was our homemade personal pizza night on Friday. The kids got to “decorate” their own mini pizza and just devoured them. I’ll definitely try that one again!

This week was filled with a lot of small moments of joy and gratitude. I have so much appreciation for our surroundings and while I’m starting to get a bit itchy to get out and about I’m so grateful to be able to stay home and safe right now.

Lodge Life: Quarantine Reflections

We’re thoroughly settled into our new normal here, seven weeks into quarantine. Our minds are wandering in different directions, wondering what’s to come, curious if Ben will begin his new school on time in the fall, wondering when we go back to Seattle if Hannah will be in a crib still, hopeful for some permanent life changes and optimism towards prioritizing family even more so as a result of quarantine. I’m also curious if we’ll view life as “before COVID” and “after COVID.” I imagine this will shape our generation.

This last week in particular I’ve been taking pleasure in a lot of the small things, like getting my favorite buttermilk bread from a local Seattle bakery and some really good jam from our most recent grocery haul. I’m realizing how much I’ve taken for granted, especially the privilege of having fresh food available on a whim.

Lately I’ve been thinking I should probably drum up some goals for how I’d like to best utilize my time {not that I have any extra time!} while under quarantine.

A few goals I came up with include:

  1. Grow. I’m in the planning process of planting vegetables, herbs and some flowers in my new raised beds. I am so looking forward to educating myself about gardening basics and enjoying the fruits {err mostly vegetables} of my labor. It’s been lovely to have a personal project to focus on.
  2. Read. I don’t have any metrics here but I just want to take more time to sit and read on my own. I loaded up my Kindle with three new books this week, now I just have to decide which one to start first!
  3. Run. I’d like to hit my 13.1 mile marker, hopefully on May 23rd {rescheduling my own personal half marathon}, and throughout this and into the future I’d like to run a minimum of 3 days per week.
  4. Bake bread. Again, no real metrics here. I’d like to try my hand at ciabatta bread as well as focaccia bread. Several years ago I tried the “artisan bread in five minutes a day” bread approach and I plan to revisit that very shortly. Send me any of your favorite bread recipes!
  5. Reflect. I’ve been doing a lot of reflection these past seven weeks and hope to only continue that. I’d like to get into daily intention and goal setting and further my gratitude practice.

I certainly can include many more things, like focus on family or be more present, but I feel like that’s something that I’ve emphasized from the outset. It feels like we’re going back in time to the 1950s, but with modern technology, and having to re-focus and slow the heck down and make some major priority shifts.

It’s been such a blessing to be able to FaceTime or talk with our parents and our siblings more regularly and catch up on FaceTime or Zoom with other friends. Ben does a weekly Zoom chat with his classmates and another FaceTime call with his teacher(s). What an absolute saving grace technology is.

I’ve already become enormously more resourceful than I was two months ago. It’s been quite a fun challenge to make groceries last at least two weeks, to use what we have on hand and to plan out how we use our fresh foods based on their lifespan. I just calculated I’ve cooked 147 consecutive meals {breakfast, lunch and dinner} over the last seven weeks {not counting snacks, which would nearly double that}.

One thing I’ve openly struggled with during the pandemic has been pertaining to the concept of homeschooling. Ben is very reluctant to sit down and watch the videos from his teachers or do the worksheets they send every day and I’m very hesitant to “make” him do that. We’re all happier when we’re just playing, reading and having fun together, though some days I’m able to sprinkle in a bit of literacy. My children are learning oodles right now – it just looks a little different than it would if they were in school.

More recently I’ve been lamenting over some things I’m longing for. We absolutely love our life in Seattle and I’m missing our neighborhood, our friends and Seattle family, Ben’s school and community. I’m really missing spring in Seattle. Our city and neighborhood are exquisite and truly shine in the springtime with the daffodils and tulips in bloom. The city’s cherry and apple blossoms are spectacular. Of course we’re surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty out here in the mountains and my goodness gracious it is amazing and I’m tremendously grateful for it.

One thing in particular I have been missing is my regular trips to my favorite cafe in Seattle, Madison Kitchen. Hannah and I would make at least one pilgrimage there a week. Usually I’d run the 1.6 miles there with her in the stroller {plus an extra loop if she fell asleep!}, then we’d get our latte, steamed milk and scone to share. Once she got restless we’d venture across the street to the Madison Park playground and eventually run home, usually with a pit stop at the grocery store or the pharmacy added in there too. For now, my nap time Nespresso lattes will do just fine!

Even out here in the mountains I’m itching to hit the hiking trails and visit our favorite Leavenworth restaurants and just feel safe going out in public again. It’s been more than three weeks since I’ve been in a car!

Gratitude was one of the first emotions I was flooded with as reality of the pandemic set in. Every morning when I take the kids for a walk I share different things I’m feeling particularly grateful for that day. The biggest ones always include our family and our mountain home where we can weather this storm safely together. We’re not “stuck” at home, we’re safe at home and we’re doing just fine. We hope you are too!

In any case, we are making the most of this time together and thoroughly enjoying all the time we are spending in the mountains. While it hasn’t been without its challenges, we plan to look back on this time fondly.

Hannah is 21 Months!

Sweet Happy Hannah is 21-months old! She is SO much fun. Alex and I absolutely adore her bright personality. She has become so independent and is really starting to round the corner to acting like a two-year old. This last month with Hannah has definitely been a favorite.

Hannah’s 21-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 5 – new sunny sandals this month!
  • Number of teeth: thirteen – proud new owner of her first canine
  • Favorite foods: smoothies, pasta, cheese, any fruit – new love of pear
  • Least favorite foods: beef, chicken
  • Favorite things/activities: playing anything with Ben, building with blocks, digging in the sand, climbing, swinging, hanging from the rings on the playground, watering, visiting the animals on our street {chickens, turkeys and horses} and taking baths.
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, not getting what she wants, getting her diaper changed

This has been such a big month of development for Hannah! The most dramatic growth has been with her language. Starting about two or three weeks ago it just exploded! She is saying 5-10 new words a day and has begun speaking in complete sentences. It’s incredible, especially since at her 18-month checkup I was telling the doctor I was concerned about her speech and vocabulary. Hannah has officially become part of the conversation in our family and it is a game changer.

One of the biggest new words Hannah has begun saying {this goes to the top of the list for “most commonly used words”} is “stop.” This is both helpful for us and Hannah to know that she wants to stop and see the horse across the street for a little longer, or for her to tell us when she wants you to stop doing something. She hasn’t quite put the “st” sound together so it’s “bop! bop!” And often it’s with tremendous attitude.

For a while I’ve been asking Hannah to say “thank you” in appropriate scenarios, like if I’m getting something for her. One day, without a prompt, she begun saying it all by herself. I can’t get over how lovely it is when she says “thanks mama!”

Out of nowhere it seemed Hannah started speaking in complete sentences. Granted, she’s still pretty hard to understand out of context, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she has been trying to string together multiple words for a while.

One afternoon Hannah came up to me and said, “mama, I want my baby” and I was completely taken aback. Sure, she’s said things like “hi mama” and “not that” before, but a real, legitimate complete sentence threw me for a loop.

At the beginning of quarantine I sort of joked that I was going to potty train Hannah this spring “with all the extra time I had.” Well, the joke played out a little and I am two weeks into a very loose beginning of potty training. It turns out it’s extremely difficult to focus on a very young potty trainer while also watching her mischievous 3-year old brother across 3 acres, all by myself. So, my expectations have been drastically adjusted and I’m going to see if Hannah takes the lead.

Hannah is SO ready to potty train, I just can’t focus enough of my attention just on her to make it happen. She is extremely aware of what’s going on in her own body, as well as others – she’ll even point out when our dog is going to the bathroom.

Diapers seem to be largely a thing of the past for Hannah. She is over them and has demanded to only be dressed in pull-ups.

Play has been extra fun this last month. Since we’ve been up in the mountains our routine has changed and the activities we do on a daily basis are a bit different than they would be if we were still in Seattle. Hannah and Ben have been playing together so much more lately. They are absolutely adorable together and it brings me tremendous joy watching them sit in the dirt together or jumping on Ben’s bed together.

For as long as I can remember Hannah has been a terrific sharer, in particular with her brother. If Ben asks calmly for Hannah to give something back to him or to share something 100% of the time she will give it to him. They are developing the sweetest bond and they adore each other so much.

Multiple times a day Hannah will go through the list of our family members and ask where everyone is. She’s started saying “Ben” {though it sounds more like “Den”} all the time and I can’t get over how sweet it is hearing her call for “Den! Den!” or “Puppy!” {Jackson has been renamed “Puppy” by Hannah.} She has such a big heart and is so friendly.

Hannah has gotten really into playing with blocks. Most mornings she’ll sit down on the floor and build a small tower or a little road for her small cars to drive on. I love watching her get into new things.

A big favorite of Hannah’s right now is digging in the dirt. Out by our new raised garden beds is a massive unintentional sandbox that the kids are practically living in. They drive the wheelbarrow and their big tractor or dump truck and then scoop up little shovelfuls of dirt into their pails and then wheel them all over the place. It’s like being at the beach, right?

Hannah is also very much into water and watering things. She waters all the things, except for the ones that need water. Her favorite is to water the deck or the empty planters awaiting their herbs.

This girl is ever the helper. She always wants to be involved in whatever is going on, whether it’s baking, cooking, emptying the dishwasher or cleaning. One moment I want to remember forever is the day last week when Hannie finished her snack, carried her plate into the kitchen, deposited the remaining unwanted snack in the trash, then she opened up the dishwasher, pulled out the little drawer and stuck her plate in. I didn’t so much as prompt her to do any of this. She is extremely observant and watches what everyone else is doing as a way to figure it out for herself.

It has been so fun to bake with Hannah while quarantining. She absolutely loves it and wants to do everything all by herself, of course. It’s almost a guarantee that she’ll briskly whisk whatever is in the bowl so that more of it ends up on the counter and more often than not she’ll reach her little hand into said bowl for a fistful of dough. She’s also been known to pick the M&Ms off the top of the cookie dough, awaiting the oven.

This girl is so bright and spirited and loud and sweet and friendly and absolutely delightful. She brings us tremendous joy and an abundance of love. We’re so enjoying these last few months of Hannie’s second year.

Ben is 21 months old

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 7

We’ve been out at The Lodge for just over 6 weeks. By now we’ve certainly settled into our new normal and have a pretty good routine going. We’ve been away from our regular lives for so long that I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on our quarantine time lately.

For me in particular, this family time is precious and I am soaking it up. I can’t help getting a little emotional listening to my kids laughing their heads off with their dad when he comes up to play with them at 4 or 5 in the evening.

Spending time in the mountains has been an absolute dream for us. I have to say we are thriving with our loose routine and the kids are loving living outside.

Right now, we’re eating 100% of our meals together. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Before quarantine, we’d be lucky to eat dinner together during the week.

Cooking and eating looks a bit different for us and surely the rest of the world right now. Since 100% of our meals are home cooked I’m spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll say it again, I’m really enjoying the challenge of extending our groceries and cooking with what we have. That said, I’m definitely getting a little fatigued with the planning and preparation associated.

Currently we’re on day 18 of groceries {gasp!}, though we’ll have a fresh haul when Alex returns from Seattle tonight. I really can’t believe we made it that long; however, one of our neighbors gave us some eggs from her chickens and picked up a bunch of bananas for me, which was really helpful.

A few of my favorite meals we’ve been enjoying lately have been:

  • Tuna noodle casserole/tuna salad {this was a HUGE hit!}
  • Banana bread {tried Smitten Kitchen’s new recipe}
  • Slow cooker pulled pork
  • Sheet pan nachos {with leftover pulled pork}
  • Quesadillas {with more leftover pulled pork}

My biggest cooking strategy to make our food last and still eat well has been to save the fresh produce with the longest life for later. I stocked up on things like apples, carrots, mandarin oranges, sweet potatoes and oodles of bananas. In a non-quarantine time of year we could eat five bananas in our house per day – one for smoothies and one for every family member. Now we’re rationing to smoothies only.

In non-food related items, we had a really nice week. A big highlight {and also a very big low!} was that Ben has started getting dressed! It’s been so nice to see him in real clothes again, though day one he made it as far as his swimming suit…

It’s not that we cared that he was in his jammies 24/7, but we cared when he wore a hole through the knees of four pairs of jammies and a massive meltdown ensued for that, as well as any time he got his PJs dirty from playing in the dirt, which meant he couldn’t wear them to bed. Enough was enough and we decided that Ben needed to get dressed in his play clothes from now on when he plays outside.

Everyone’s hair is starting to get a liiiiittle long. No haircuts have taken place yet, and Alex is growing a quarantine beard, so we’ll see how long that all lasts. I’ve seen some tutorials on Instagram about giving men and little boys haircuts so I think I’m a trained pro at this point…. All I can say is my hair is going to be very long by the end of this and I am SO glad I had just opted to chop a few inches off of my own hair before quarantine began.

This week I started integrating a little “homeschool” time for Ben while Hannah is napping. He is actually really close to mastering the sounds each letter of the alphabet makes, along with identifying the letter and writing it. Maybe we’ll come out of this with an early emergent reader?!

Alex has been hard at work on projects around the yard. He has been clearing out our forest over the last several weeks. It was covered in fallen trees, logs, branches and years upon years of pine needles.

Now that he’s made a significant dent in the forest project he’s ready to move onto a few other smaller projects. The forest will probably take a few more weeks to get to a state where we’re happy with it, so it’s nice to re-focus. Last week Alex built me a couple of raised garden beds so I can grow vegetables! I can hardly wait to get planting.

This last weekend Alex took on a few smaller projects, including cutting down the barbed wire that extends the length of our property. The wire was down on the ground, making it hard to see, so it was quite dangerous for both kids and our dog. It turned out to be quite a job, with tree roots getting tangled in the wires.

One teeny tiny project we enjoyed was getting some bird feeders. We had previously hung our hummingbird feeder and loved watching the littlest birds come to feast on the nectar. Now, we have swarms of birds flocking to the feeders. We are all getting such joy from sitting and watching the birds. We primarily have chickadees and robins and are working to identify other species.

Before quarantine began I was training for a half marathon to take place May 2nd. I have been continuing to train and run; however, got quite derailed by my Achilles. Thankfully I’m happy to report I’m back to running. In an effort to ease back into things I’ll push back my “race day” a few weeks, I think.

Certainly there are things we long for and we absolutely miss the life we left behind when this all started, but we’re striving not just to survive quarantine, but to thrive.