Category Archives: Family

Thanksgiving 2019

The holidays are in full-swing over here. We had such a memorable Thanksgiving – our first at The Lodge – and enjoyed kicking off the holiday season in the mountains. We have so much to look forward to this first winter in the mountains.

{Alex’s parents and my mom came for part of our Thanksgiving week.}

{Our first project of our 10-day trip to The Lodge was stock up on firewood! This is what a half a cord of firewood looks like.}

{Needless to say, we had a roaring fire all weekend long and worked very hard to deplete our firewood supply. It felt so, so cozy inside the house!}

{It was rather disappointing to find there was no snow on the ground. We made do and enjoyed the frosty mornings instead. The weather was cold and clear most of the time.}

{We had a few days just the four of us before everyone arrived. It was fun to have some family time and we enjoyed exploring a bit.}

{Whew! Hannah is finally getting to a point where she’s able to go down the stairs safely by herself. We have four flights of hardwood stairs in the house, so it’s a bit nerve wracking with the little ones.}

{Thanksgiving arrived and, per our tradition, we started the day with a Turkey Trot. There was a dusting of fresh snow and it was COLD.}

{The Turkey Trot was unanimously the highlight of the day for the adults who ran it.}

{There’s just something about starting a holiday dedicated to gratitude and eating with a 5K.}

{I had so much fun putting together this charcuterie board. It tasted great and my kids loved it too!}

{We had a pretty traditional Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, rolls, fruit, pumpkin pie… I love cooking Thanksgiving. I think I may switch up some of the recipes/methods for next year though, just to add a little variety.}

{Friday afternoon we headed to town for Leavenworth’s annual Christmas Market.}

{The highlight of the Christmas Market for me was the mini donuts. Yes, I absolutely had a full dozen all by myself and no, I had no regrets.}

{The Leavenworth Christmas lights are truly magical!}

{Surprisingly one of the highlights for me was our trip to the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. It was SO neat. I loved being up close to the reindeer and learning more about them. Hannah seemed into it but Ben would have rather watched from afar.}

{The grandparents offered to watch the kids so Alex and I could have some much needed time together on Saturday afternoon. We tried a new restaurant, got more mini donuts and took a stroll down by the river.}

{Our last big activity was a jaunt over to Lake Wenatchee.}

{We built a campfire and roasted s’mores and enjoyed the dreary day amidst nature’s beautiful backdrop.}

{Finally! On our last night we got the teeniest tiniest amount of snow!}

{It was enough for the kids to bring out their sleds and play around.}

{We took a walk through the forest on our property and decided to cut down one of our very own trees to use as our Christmas tree this year. Stay tuned!}

{These two littles adore their grandparents!}

{Our trip ended like this… Jackson got to ride in my new car for the first time. Look at all of the space he has (there is a full-size suitcase behind him!)!!! He’s always sad to leave The Lodge.}

Our first Thanksgiving at The Lodge was a very special one indeed. We’re so, so grateful to have a home in the mountains that allows us a retreat with our family and friends.

Fall Family Photos 2019

We’re so grateful to our family photographer, Kim Hildebrand, for her talent and impressive abilities behind a camera. Kim shoots with film and we continue to be amazed by her knack for documenting our family perfectly, especially with a limited number of shots. Here are some of our favorites from our recent photo session:


 

Lodge Life: Fall!

Fall came quickly to the mountains this year and brought abundant sunshine, the most glorious brightly colored leaves, the smell of campfires all around us and perfect crisp and frosty mornings. Our little family spent so many weekends in Leavenworth this fall and it was so fun watching the season evolve.

We planned four long, consecutive weekends at The Lodge this fall, beginning in mid-September. With the exception of one weekend the weather was perfect! Chilly and sunny – just the way we like it. We loved pulling out our cozy layers and switching from iced lattes to hot ones. We found the perfect pumpkin latte in town {and no, it’s not Starbucks!} and I made pumpkin muffins with the kids.

Driving through the Tumwater Canyon on highway 2 was a highlight of the fall for me. The colors and scenery through the canyon are spectacular. As the road winds its way along the Wenatchee River into Leavenworth proper the trees and mountainside become more and more glorious. The rapids in the river seem to always catch the sunlight perfectly and my goodness, the autumn leaves shimmering in the sun were stunning.

I was able to indulge in two long runs around town and next to the river this fall. It was heavenly being out in nature and enjoying such beauty.

As a family we enjoyed our walks along the riverfront, cheering Ben on while he lived his best life on the pump track and watching our kids play outside in the yard. It has been extra special to watch Hannah become more and more sturdy and be able to hold her own. She has been having a blast on the swing set and loves to climb up the ladder all by herself.

Two weekends we spent entertaining some friends of ours. One weekend my friend from Minnesota, Sarah, and her family came to visit. Madeline, their 3-year old, and Ben got to pal around and catch up. We loved seeing them and meeting their new daughter, Emily.

Another weekend our local friends and Octoberfest regulars, Dave and Trish and their two boys, came to stay with us. We always have such a nice time with them and we were blown away by how well Ben and Liam, their 3-year old, played together.

We also have loved that friends and family who have been in Leavenworth on their own trips have come over to our house for a visit. My cousin and his family, along with our old neighbors and my aunt and uncle stopped by our house while they were already in the mountains. Our neighbors, Ross and Erin, brought their drone and took some fun pictures of our house and the surrounding area.

One of the reasons we built The Lodge was to spend more time with friends and family. It brings us so much joy to share our home and our piece of mountain paradise with family and friends. We so loved our time and the opportunity to see our friends and family for a longer stretch.

We are really getting in our groove out there. Now we’re in the midst of a much needed focus on our life and home in Seattle so we’ll be a bit more settled and in one place this month. That said, we are getting set to prepare for winter in the mountains, though, and have a long list of things that need to get done. Alex and I can’t wait to experience our first full winter at The Lodge and we’re already getting excited about the holiday season ahead of us. It’s going to come quickly!

Wisconsin Family Trip

For our last family hurrah of the summer we packed our suitcases, headed to the airport and flew east to Wisconsin to spend time with Alex’s family and some long-time friends.

Our trip took us to Lake Delavan, located in the southern part of the state, where Alex’s parents have a condo. This visit was long overdue and we were thrilled to finally introduce Hannah to her extended family and meet our new nephew, Marco.

Taking two toddlers on a plane is no small feat. We expected chaos. We expected screaming. We expected a very frustrated Hannah, not being old enough to understand just why she was trapped in a metal tube flying in the air for more than 4 hours. We did not expect harmony or peace or frankly much enjoyment from her at all. But! Enjoyment and harmony is what we got!

We knew Ben would be just fine but we didn’t expect Hannah to be, too! Hannah is obsessed with airplanes flying in the sky – I honestly didn’t think that interest would carry over into actually flying in an airplane. She was giddy with excitement with all the people in the airport, standing in front of the big windows watching the planes and then once we boarded the plane she connected all of the dots and realized she’d get to fly, too!

She did so, so well – on both flights, even. It really was a dream scenario. I hardly had to pull out any of the toys and activities I brought for either kid. Our flight {to Wisconsin especially} actually ended up being a highlight of our trip.

Enough about our travel day!

While we were on the ground in Wisconsin we filled our days with family. We so enjoyed a big family gathering with Alex’s relatives. It was fun to meet some of his cousins I hadn’t met yet, see how many great grandchildren Nana has {a lot! and probably only half of them were there!} and catch up with his aunts and their family friends, The Baileys. I loved sneaking away to go for a run with Alex’s uncle, a marathoner, and I even got to spend time with one of my college roommates, Julie, and her family too.

One of the major highlights of the trip for us, and one of the biggest reasons for taking the trip, was spending time with Nico and Marco, Alex’s and my nephews. Nico is 2 1/2 and Marco was 3 weeks old when we were there.

Ben and Nico got along famously. It was the sweetest thing watching the two of them pal around. It fills my heart with forward-looking joy and anticipation of the cousin love that’s starting to form.

We absolutely loved the time with the kids.

Another big highlight of the trip was when Alex and Alina took the littlest ones {Marco and Hannah} to visit Nana one afternoon. It was so special for them to have that time together.

The weather wasn’t really working in our favor for much of the trip. We had a few nice days but it was so windy! I really couldn’t believe it. It was too windy and cool to comfortably boat or go to the pool most days. Thankfully Grammy and Papa were well-prepared for us and had stocked the condo full of toddler toys and they acquired quite the slew of toddler vehicles for the kids to roll around in.

Alex and I had planned to spend one night in Chicago while we were there. We took the train into the city and made it just in time to have lunch and see a Cubs baseball game with some of Alex’s long-time friends. I had never been to Wrigley Field before and he was eager to show me around.

We loved staying in the Wicker Park neighborhood and had a really nice, leisurely morning being tourists. We found a great brunch spot and just enjoyed adulting and taking a really long walk through a fun urban neighborhood.

One of the highlights for me was early morning cuddles with Hannah. We’re probably still paying for this a bit now, but when she’d wake up early in the morning I didn’t want her to rouse the whole house so I just brought her into bed with us. It’s not something we really ever do so I was happy to “break the rules” a bit. It was very special time with my girl.

Our trip quickly came to an end after we returned from Chicago. We were lucky that Grammy and Papa had planned a trip of their own to come to Seattle the following week, so that made saying goodbye a little easier. Until next time!

Summer Recap

Summer isn’t normally my favorite season. Don’t get me wrong, I love our sunny Seattle summer days, but I’m usually more of a fall and winter kind of gal. Not this year, though! This summer rivals some pretty epic summers I’ve had for the best summer of my adult life and I’m sliding it into the top slot of best summers of all time.

This post is mainly going to be a photo dump, but I’ll preface by saying that this summer was so fantastic because of all of the family time we’ve been able to have in the mountains. Our life slows down so much out there. The days are so full and they move so much slower and we jam them full of adventure, exploration and family giggles – oh, and eating. These really are the days…

{Ben kicked off summer with two weeks of swimming lessons in early June. He became quite comfortable in the water!}

{Ben’s first bike competition! Bike ‘n Juice at Ski Hill in Leavenworth.}

{We fell in love with the community pool in Leavenworth this summer and went there at least once a week.}

{I’ve been enjoying more homemade iced lattes this summer to save myself a trip to the coffee shop.}

{Ben got a scooter for his 3rd birthday. He’s a pro already!}

{Lake Wenatchee – one of our favorites.}

{#prodad}

{Overlooking the Wenatchee River.}

{Ben participated in 6 weeks of summer camps. 2 weeks were bike camps and the remaining were at his former preschool.}

{Ben + dirt = love}

{Icicle Gorge hike – my personal favorite!}

{A big part of our late summer has been getting our irrigation lines run and our yard prepped for grass in Leavenworth.}

{The view from my favorite coffee shop in Leavenworth is incredible…}

{Grammy and Papa came to celebrate Hannah’s first birthday!}

{Hannah turned ONE!}

{Inspiration Playground in Bellevue is a favorite!}

{We had very few Seattle beach days this summer, but one of my favorites was when we met a few friends and had a pizza picnic on the beach with the kiddos.}

{This kid could spend all day digging in the sand.}

{Backyard water fun!}

{I remember this morning. Alex had to leave for work around 6 a.m., totally unexpectedly, so I piled the kids in the stroller and took Jackson for a long walk around the neighborhood. Notice Mount Rainier in the background. It was the best way to start the day.}

{We stumbled upon so many spectacular sites this summer. This beach on the Wenatchee River is at the top of the list for sure.}

{We had a few different families out to The Lodge this summer and had a blast spending more time with them.}

{Hannah turned into a toddler this summer!}

{One of the hidden beaches in our neighborhood in Seattle.}

{Grandpa Fred came for a visit in mid-August!}

{Hikes at Ski Hill in Leavenworth are extra special.}

{The grass is coming in at The Lodge and Ben loves playing baseball!}

{As the summer carried on we spent more and more time just playing outside in Leavenworth.}

{Our summer came to a close with our family trip to Wisconsin. More on that later!}

Ben is back in school now and fall is here in Seattle. Summer came to a halt after Labor Day and I wasn’t as prepared as I had hoped. I had really been expecting an Indian summer to precede our switch to autumn and that doesn’t seem to be the case. Here’s hoping for a fantastic fall to follow our summer!

 

Alex’s Belated Paternity Leave

After Hannah’s birth we were so fortunate that Alex was able to stay home for two weeks to bond with her and help out with the transition to having two kiddos. At that time he wasn’t eligible for his company’s paternity leave because he had only worked there for a few months. Thankfully, though, he was able to take the leave later on and we just wrapped up nearly 3 weeks of precious family time.

The time we had with Alex was about as good as it gets. We were able to spend so very much time together as a little family of four and make memories that will stay with me forever – I sure hope at least Ben remembers this time.

Alex’s vacation started on the 4th of July and ended the day after Hannah’s birthday and included a visit from Alex’s parents. We split our time between the mountains and Seattle.

At the start of Alex’s leave both of us were rattling off things we really wanted to do with the time and I’m so glad we had the foresight to come up with a plan for his leave. It would have been so disappointing to near the end and look back and think about all the things we hadn’t gotten to. Because of that, we were able to get to nearly everything we had hoped to.

Our time in the mountains felt like it lasted so, so long. Time passes so much slower out there and the pace of life is more manageable, it feels. We are able to fit so much into a single day, let alone the nearly two weeks we were there for.

Despite the unseasonably cool days in the Pacific Northwest earlier in the month we made it to the fabulous Leavenworth pool several times, took countless trips to Enchantment Park in town, walked the trail from the park into town, went to the beach at Lake Wenatchee State Park,fell in love with the Leavenworth Farmers Market, went hiking several times and relaxed at The Lodge. Alex even pulled both kiddos in the bike trailer. Our “vacation” ended with Hannah’s birthday celebration.

The time we spent in Seattle was just as special as it was in the mountains, though we were only there for five of the 18 days. Ben had bike camp every morning and I think Alex got a kick out of helping Ben ride his bike up there each day then coming back early to pick him up so he could watch Ben on his bike.

We had a really fun trip to the zoo, lots of park time, Alex took a nice bike ride and we enjoyed a few nice meals out and I was able to take some time to get a few things accomplished on my own.

Another highlight of our trip was Alex’s and my overnight in Seattle while the kids stayed at The Lodge with Grammy and Papa. The adult time was much needed. We were gone around 24 hours and enjoyed some patio time at Bottlehouse, a fabulous dinner at our favorite restaurant, Vendemmia, and a little more flexibility in our time.

{Side note: the following are the only two pictures we took during our time away. It’s funny how few pictures I take when the kids aren’t the focus!}

The best part for me, though, was seeing how much family bonding took place, in particular while we were in the mountains. Our time was so special. It was precious. It was perfect. We all knew that Alex’s increased presence was a treat and we indulged and just so enjoyed it. Hannah and Alex had some really, really special time, too, which is what it was all about.

We feel so grateful for this family time and have made so many memories and hopefully started a tradition that will last for years to come. We’re hoping to have a longer “staycation” every year where we can stay put in Seattle and/or Leavenworth and enjoy time together. I’m so, so glad that companies and our country are starting to offer paternity leave to new dads. There’s still a lot of work to do, in my opinion, to improve paid parental leave across the board, but I’m seeing progress and am so thankful for that.

{Waving bye bye to dada as he leaves for work….}

Lodge Life: Swing Set & Projects

Life at The Lodge has been filled with sunshine, family, lots of progress on outdoor progress and so much joy and dreaming of what’s to come.

The weather this spring has been absolutely perfect with sun just about every day and each day being warmer than the previous. We’re gearing up for the summer heat and preparing for wildfire season. Yes, the threat of wildfires is very, very real out there!

Alex’s parents have been staying at The Lodge since late April and they have been busy taking care of several outdoor projects. They’ve made tremendous progress on the property and have been coordinating appointments, deliveries and vendors. It’s been so nice having them there! More on that in another post.

Recently, my dad and brother flew out from Minnesota to build Ben and Hannah their very own swing set! I have such fond memories playing in my yard on the swing set my dad built me when I was a child and I wanted him to be a part of creating those memories for my children. It was an added bonus to have Uncle John come out and help too.

I knew my dad and John would be the right guys for the job, being that they’re both builders, – they got the whole swing set put together in a little over half a day. Needless to say, Ben and Hannah already love it and the memories are starting to be made.

{Climbing structure marks the spot!}

We opted to purchase a swing set kit and here is the one we chose. So far, I’m very happy with our choice. We added monkey bars and a bucket swing for our littles. There was a lot of angst around the shipping of this swing set and we were on pins and needles the whole week leading up to it – we were uncertain whether it would make it in time. It turns out, it did not! My dad and brother flew in very early from Minnesota, rented a pickup truck, drove 2.5 hours southeast of the Seattle airport to Yakima, picked up the swing set at UPS, then drove another 2 hours northwest to Leavenworth. Whew!

{Wood chips complete the swing set! It’s a nice thick base to make for soft landings.}

There will always be a project list at The Lodge, but it’s been so wonderful to feel like we’re accomplishing things. We truly wouldn’t be able to get these things done without our family, so we’re extremely grateful for their help. Thank you!!!

{Ben absolutely adores his two grandfathers!}

Lodge Life: Spring is Here!

Spring is in full force out at The Lodge and it’s been really fun watching the seasons transition and the snow melt away. We have little yellow avalanche lilies blooming in the forest in our yard and some tree sparrows building a nest just outside of our dining room table. All of the trees have little fresh bright green leaves starting to pop out signaling the new season. The rivers are roaring with all the snow melting and it really feels like spring out in the Cascades.

We’re learning all sorts of fun things in our new setting – there are lots of new bugs and birds, everyone has a truck, everyone has a tractor, the sun feels SO much warmer out there, it gets really dark in the mountains at night and it’s rather pleasant to have a rooster across the street. So far we’ve met quite a few of our neighbors and unsurprisingly, I’ve become a “local” and am proudly known by name at the coffee shop and the hot dog stand.

It’s been about 10 weeks since we moved in and we’ve spent all but two weekends up there, which is what we had hoped for. When we are at The Lodge our life slows down tremendously. We can relax, focus on our little family and embrace our surroundings.

Hiking is something Alex and I have grown quite fond of since moving to Washington. We kicked off the start of spring with a couple of local hikes we hadn’t done before.

There’s something about having a baby on my back that I just love. Hannah rode on my back in our little Ergo carrier and was content as could be.

We have a more real-deal hiking backpack for Ben, and we’ll eventually get a duplicate for Hannah. Both kids LOVE the hiking backpack – I think they enjoy being so high up.

I’m already building up a memory bank of moments I hope I never forget. This is what we’ve been dreaming about for most of our adult life. I feel like all of us are in our element out in the mountains.

Alex will wake up early with me so we can sit and have coffee together and get a few minutes before inevitably one of our littles wakes up. Both of them are typically up by 6, soooooo yeah.

Ben has been impressing me lately with his confidence and work ethic around mastering the art of the balance bike. He blew people away at the Leavenworth Pump Track when he would cruise the hilly bike track alongside big kids and adults.

Another favorite memory I have, though it ended with one of the most difficult parenting evenings ever, is of going for a walk on our quiet mountain street while Ben rode his bike alongside me. He was so excited, such a good listener and so proud. He waved at the neighbors, we stopped to see Dan the horse, and he made sure I was safe when cars would pass. It was lovely.

Alex and I love sitting on the deck watching Ben play with his excavator, climb on his climbing structure or throw the ball for Jackson. I’m so excited to see what memories we make there with Hannah, too, as she grows up there.

I have a bucket list going for things I’d like to do out in Leavenworth/the area this summer. Alex and I can’t wait to spend more time out there exploring. Here are a few things on my bucket list:

  • Go stand up paddle boarding in Lake Wenatchee
  • Hike a new trail
  • Swim in the town pool
  • Have a picnic in a picture-perfect spot down by the river
  • Visit Plain Cellars, a winery just down the street from us
  • Do a family 5K or 10K {need to find one!}
  • Do a half marathon {signed up for one in October!}

For now, we have much to look forward to this spring – Alex’s parents are here for the next month and we’re all excited to have more Grammy and Papa time. My dad and brother are heading out in a few weeks to help us build a playground for the kids, which of course will be SO fun. The memories and our life out here are really starting to take shape.

The Lodge Photo Session

Valentine’s Day was extra special this year — Alex surprised me with a photo session at The Lodge! I was over-the-moon to find out that he had been coordinating with Kim Hildebrand, our family photographer, for her to come out and shoot The Lodge and some photos of our family.

Her pictures always take my breath away. She captures our family so perfectly and I’m crazy about her style. She is so talented and I’m so grateful for all of the photos she’s taken of our family since Ben was 6 weeks old. In any case, I really had trouble paring down the photos so here’s my gigantic photo dump from our amazing photo session.

The Happenings

Gosh – it’s late March. Spring is here. We’ve been super sick. Our life is in four and three-day increments as we’re sharing our time between The Lodge. Ok – you’re caught up! Here are some photos to better tell the story…

{We’ve been loving sitting out on the stairs on our deck while we watch Ben play in the yard/driveway at The Lodge. He is such an outdoor kid!}

{Our friends Carrie and Patrick and their daughter Roslyn joined us up at The Lodge a few weeks ago. We loved seeing the two tots play together and sharing our home with our friends.}

{I didn’t get a single day of downhill skiing in this year, unfortunately. It feels less disappointing since we’ve been able to get so much cross county skiing in. I have really, really grown to love it! This is Ben and Roslyn.}

{The days have been sunny and glorious lately! My big helper is an expert at watering our new plants.}

{Time to pull out the picnic blankets! I am dreaming of summer right now and of all the fun things I can do with my littles. We’re going to have a blast!}

{These two! Loving life in Leavenworth.}

{Ben just jumped up to size 3T clothes! Loving his new dinosaur jammies!}

{Thanks for the ice cream cone, Nana! It was delicious!}

{We’ve had a rough March with illnesses plaguing our household. While Alex was out of town Ben got croup. He’s had it twice before and it wasn’t a big deal. This time it was and we ended up having a 911 call and a hospital visit because Ben was gasping for breath. It was a scary experience and we’re glad it’s behind us.}

{Once Ben seemed on the mend from Croup we all came down with the flu. Thank you, Emergency Room, for spreading your germs!}

{I’m not used to having Ben nap anymore but he’d go and climb into my bed and curl up with his choice of stuffed animal and fall asleep!}

{Sweet Hannah has entered the age of frustration. She wants to do so much more than she’s physically ready to do. I’m sure it’s especially hard having an older brother. She wants to do everything he is doing.}

{The Lodge is finally DONE. We have received the certificate of occupancy and it’s done!! Check out the new deck railings. I think they complete the look of the house so well. We have been up here basically every weekend and are really feeling settled.}