Category Archives: Fun

More Fall Fun!

In preparation for Halloween this week we decided to get Ben dressed up in his adorable monkey costume as many times as possible. We started the weekend at Alex’s work’s family Halloween festival on Friday and ended it at Remlinger Farms pumpkin patch/autumn festival today.

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Just getting used to his Halloween costume…

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We all seemed to come down with a little stomach bug this week. Thankfully it was fairly short-lived and rather mild. Unfortunately for me, it hit me about 7 minutes after this {above} photo was taken – live, right in the middle of Alex’s work campus. Ugh. We all bounced back quickly and are a-ok now.

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Sunday morning we were feeling better and drove out to Carnation, Washington to Remlinger Farms, with Edina, our nanny, to enjoy some fall fun.

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Ben ate a whole mini doughnut all in one bite…..

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We loved all that Remlinger Farms had to offer, especially this fantastic train! It was a real train that took us for a 15ish minute ride around the farm.

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Ben loved the hay bale maze!

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And got to try his first amusement park ride!

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Ben and Edina! He loves her so so much.

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I knew just how to get the giggles out! This little monkey is ready for Halloween! 🙂

*all of the good photos courtesy of Edina!

Fall Family Fun!

Fall is one of Alex’s and my favorite seasons. I love, love, looooove fall cooking – come August I’m DONE with salads, grilling and light eating and ready to throw on a pot of chili, bake some pumpkin muffins and indulge in rich, hearty dinners. In any case, we’re enjoying the start of fall here in the Pacific Northwest.

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We returned from our Midwest trip, where we had perfect summer weather, to 52 degrees and rain! It was an abrupt end to warm days and we loved it. Since we’ve been back, the weather has been perfectly fallish. We’ve been loving the cooler mornings, cozying up in vests and flannel and hearing Ben run around in the crunchy leaves. Oh fall!

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Last weekend Alex and I left Ben with his nanny and headed to Gig Harbor to attend Ryan and Anne’s wedding. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to. It was over-the-top in an absolutely perfect and sensational way. We were so happy to have been there!

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{cinnamon rolls + coffee the next morning!}

{cinnamon rolls + coffee the next morning!}

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Edina, our nanny, is such a great photographer. She took a ton of fabulous fall photos of Ben recently and I’m dying to share them with you!

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This morning was an absolutely perfect kick-start to our first weekend at home in a while – we headed north to Snohomish and took Ben, along with our friends, to The Farm at Swan’s Trail, a local apple orchard and pumpkin patch. It was awesome!! Alex and I were most excited for apple doughnuts, which were terrific, and we had such a great time.

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{August and Oliver, the twins, are behind Ben}

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Happy fall! 🙂

The Happenings

All is well over here in our little house. It sure feels like June in Seattle – the weather can’t decide if it should be summer or winter {thankfully this next week it’s feeling like summer}.

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We have been enjoying the nice days by throwing a picnic blanket down in our backyard or heading up to the park to hang out in the grass, lounge in our “blob” or push Ben on the swings. We are so grateful to have an incredible park so close to our house.

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Mr. Ben is doing so well. He is getting several teeth right now and seems to be over the painful part of teething {he has 3 teeth + at least 3 are coming in on top}. I’m happy to finally be able to say that he is eating really well and the amount of milk he is drinking every day is dropping significantly, which is really important at this point.

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In the last few days he has been eating SO MUCH FOOD. It’s been so fun to watch him develop favorite foods and preferences with what he eats. Right now, meat is at the top of his list. Cottage cheese and any dairy products are a close second. Last night he tried BBQ beans and some sides from our BBQ dinner and he was in heaven! He is his father’s son for sure.

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It is so fun to continue to see Ben’s personality emerge. He is so expressive, happy and curious. He loves making people laugh and smile, which is easy to do when he flashes his 3 teeth at you and cackles his sweet giggle. He has been clapping his hands and waving and it really couldn’t be cuter to watch.

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Sleep has been something that we’ve really been working on with Ben lately. Ben has been sleeping really well for the last couple months, but we found out that he wasn’t getting enough sleep overnight. The doctor wanted him to be sleeping more like 12 hours, rather than the 10 he was consistently getting. It wasn’t the end of the world that he wasn’t sleeping more, but we had been wondering too and have been working on putting him to bed at 7 p.m. instead of 8. So far it’s going really well and the last few nights he’s averaged 11 hours overnight, but his naps have shortened a bit. It makes me curious if he was getting the right amount of sleep already!?

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Since he turned one we’ve been able to give him a lovie in his crib to cuddle with and that has been making bedtime, naptime and anytime that he wakes up unexpectedly much, much easier. He curls up with his little monkey lovie and often times goes right back to sleep. I haven’t ever had the heart or the stamina to let Ben “cry it out” and I’m so impressed with how well he’s transitioning to putting himself to sleep lately very peacefully and calmly.

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We’ve been getting out on more runs – it turns out no one goes to the arboretum at 7:30 in the morning so we’ve had the place to ourselves lately! It’s hard to make the time to exercise regularly, though having a jogging stroller and the ability to take Ben and Jackson on runs makes it infinitely easier.

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One of Ben’s “homework” assignments from his 12 month checkup at the doctor was for Ben to hide things. We really weren’t sure what that would look like and sure enough within a week of his appointment he started hiding books around his room. It started with a book under his bookshelf, then he slid a few books under the chair {and crawled under there himself!} and today he hid some books under his crib. It’s pretty amusing to watch him become a little mischievous boy!

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Alex finally broke down and bought a car last month. Since we moved to Seattle nearly nine years ago we have only had one car between the two of us. We’ve managed to make it work just fine, though now that we’ve got Ben it makes it more challenging, not to mention it limits Alex’s flexibility tremendously.

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Alex has been fortunate enough to take transportation provided by his work which is why we were able to make it work with only one car. In any case, we’re officially a two car family. I’m hoping that we will ease into a new routine that makes it easier for Alex to get to the gym and also be home for our now early dinners.

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I had a goofy schedule last week and it allowed me a day off of work while our nanny was with Ben. I felt like I was running around doing errands for most of the day, but I did manage to squeeze in some time to get some new plants for our retaining wall. I’m really happy with how they turned out. Hopefully I can keep them alive and that they survive the terrible soil and growing conditions in which I planted them.

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In addition to never ending yard work, we have a busy summer with several trips {mostly that Alex is taking} and much to look forward to. Next up is our adults-only trip to California!

Baby Madeline’s Visit

Baby Madeline and her parents, Sarah and Mike, came to visit us this past weekend from Minnesota. It was so fun to have another baby in our house for Ben to play with all weekend long. Both babes did well and really hammed it up for us! Madeline has the sweetest cheesy smile. I couldn’t get enough of it!

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Sarah and I grew up together and have been friends for a very long time. Somehow it happened that we got to go through pregnancy and now the stages of motherhood together – Ben and Madeline were due a day apart last summer.

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Both babies were born before their due dates and are 5 weeks apart. It was really neat to see how different of babies Ben and Madeline are. They are both super sweet and cuddly, and the biggest difference I noticed is that Madeline sits still!

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Alex and I were so shocked at the fact that they could just plop Madeline down anywhere and she’d stay still and take in her surroundings. Even as young as 3 or 4 months, Ben’s little legs and feet or arms would be moving and shaking. He’s really never sat still and always wanted to be moving.

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The weather held out for their trip pretty well, surprisingly. We managed to squeeze in quite a few activities during the long weekend.

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Sarah and I strolled through the arboretum with the babes on Friday while Mike was spending time with his friend. Coincidentally the best man from their wedding also lives in Seattle {I was their matron of honor}. The weather was gorgeous and it made it a perfect afternoon to spend outside.

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The clouds rolled in on Saturday and we headed slightly east to Woodinville for lunch and to do some wine tasting. We tried some new wines and had a great time.

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We ended the evening with a trip to Westland Distillery, a whiskey distillery in the SODO neighborhood. Sarah and Mike {and Alex too} really like whiskey so it was a fun place to stop off.

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The babies did so well on the outing! It was really fun to get out with them and see, at least for Alex and me, how well Ben did on a full-day adventure.

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Our true adventure happened on Sunday. We braved the weather and headed for the mountains to do a hike at Twin Falls. Aside from a few minutes where it was sunny, it was lightly sprinkling throughout most of the hike. That didn’t stop us from lacing up our boots and hitting the trails. It was extremely gorgeous – the hike was fairly easy and followed a roaring river and winded through furry green trees. There were some beautiful views of the falls at the end. It didn’t disappoint.

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After a really nice visit, Sarah, Mike and Madeline headed home on Monday. We loved having them here to play with Ben and to spend time together. We’re grateful for technology so that we can keep each other up-to-date with lots of photos and even FaceTime on occasion.

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Birthday Weekend!

I recently celebrated my golden birthday {March 31st} and it was very golden and special, indeed. I waited as long as a person could wait to enjoy my golden birthday and it was surely worth the wait.

Lucky me – my birthday was on a Friday this year. The weather was really nice that day, too, as it often is in the beautiful city of Seattle. We had a relaxing morning at home before Alex headed to work, then I stayed home with Ben that day. One of the fun highlights was taking our new jogging stroller out for a spin!

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That night we met our friends Mary and Ryan for dinner at Tilth, a terrific restaurant in Seattle. Their specialty is a five-course tasting menu with wine pairings. We were happy to sign up for that! The food was terrific – our favorites were the sunchoke soup {I know, right?!} and the albacore tuna. Yum!! We have so much fun with Mary and Ryan and it was extra special to have an adults-only birthday celebration {Mary’s birthday is two days before mine} for the two of us.

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Saturday was my big birthday hurrah day. Alex and I had our first overnight away from Ben. We went out to Woodinville and stayed in our favorite hotel, Willows Lodge, and enjoyed an afternoon of wine tasting, which led into a fantastic dinner at Barking Frog and an overnight in a beautiful hotel.

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Ben did great with his first night at home without us. The nanny kept us up-to-date with some adorable photos throughout the evening.

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We finished off our rendezvous with a fabulous breakfast at Barking Frog and then headed home to hang out with our little guy.

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It was such a terrific birthday!!

Third Annual Holiday Party

Our third annual holiday party is another one for the books! We are so, so glad we decided to carry out the tradition of hosting a holiday party. For a while we were on the fence – life is a lot more complicated these days with worrying about nap times and feeding schedules of an energetic, squirmy 6-month old. Ultimately, we decided to pick a really easy menu and go from there.

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As it turned out, this holiday party was both of our favorite yet! There was absolutely no stress going into it – we had the experience of two big parties before and sort of had things dialed in for the most part. Not only did that make it easier now that we’ve got Ben, but it made it more enjoyable and allowed for an event where we felt we could actually spend time with our guests and not worry about anything else.

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This year we had right around 30 friends {including 2 family members!} over for the evening. I’d say a solid 2/3 of the crew has kids now and we opted to make this an adults-only affair. We got a lot of really positive feedback from both the parents and the non-parents that they appreciated it was a kid-free evening. Ben was home but we had our nanny downstairs watching him. As it turned out, he slept through the whole dang thing!

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Our food and drink spread was pretty similar to previous years with a few minor tweaks. I really enjoy cooking and putting together food to entertain with. I didn’t really stretch my creativity this year, which was probably a good thing! Some tried and true staples were as far as I went.

Ben’s nanny was a huge help – she baked cookies last week during his nap time! I enjoy baking Christmas cookies but always over-do it, so this year she saved me from that {and may have overdone it herself!}. I managed to still bake gingersnaps, peppermint bark and sugar cookies, while she made the most amazing lintzer cookies {omg you have to make them!}, lemon bars and a lemon polenta cake. She is a far better baker than I am!

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In addition, I hired a babysitter for the day before the party so I could take the day to get everything organized and prepped. As it turns out, that was a very wise move! The day of the party I put Ben in the baby carrier and had him hang out with me while I got some stuff done. I explained what I was doing and shared with him our holiday party tradition. Alex and I hope to continue this party for many years!

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One of my favorite parts about our holiday party tradition is bringing our many groups of friends together. Alex and I feel so fortunate to have so many friends in Seattle and we’ve really made this city our home, in part because of the friendships we have here. I was having such a good time on Saturday night that I forgot to take any photos during the party! Oops! I guess there’s always next year…

Summer Recap

We have had such a fun, memorable summer! I can’t even begin to believe that it’s Labor Day weekend already. Right now we are preparing to have yet another new normal, and this one we are expecting to stick. Our new normal will be our new reality now that Alex is headed back to work on Tuesday and then I’ll follow him two weeks later. While it will be sad to not have so much time at home together, both of us love our jobs and we’re looking forward to a somewhat consistent schedule.

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Our summer started with the birth of Benjamin the day after Memorial Day {the unofficial start to summer 😉 } and then Alex went back to work while I spent my days in the NICU. We enjoyed a few summer moments during that time, but mostly were in survival mode.

{33 weeks pregnant here... 2 days before I met Ben!}

{33 weeks pregnant here… 2 days before I met Ben!}

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{It's really hard going back through the pictures from when Ben was in the NICU. It is amazing how quickly we forgot about it all...}

{It’s really hard going back through the pictures from when Ben was in the NICU. It is amazing how quickly we forgot about it all…}

Alex’s parents and my mom got to meet Ben soon after he was born.

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{This is a perfect photo summing up my days in the NICU, except not all of them were spent with a smile on my face - I sure did try!}

{This is a perfect photo summing up my days in the NICU, except not all of them were spent with a smile on my face – I sure did try!}

Once Ben came home the tables turned {as did the weather!} and we really got to enjoy ourselves again as we adjusted to life with a newborn.

{SO ready to come home!!!!!!!}

{SO ready to come home!!!!!!!}

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His first few weeks home we were in absolute bliss – we went for walks every day, we took Ben out to restaurants and wineries and hardly missed a beat!

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{Yesterday I tried out one of my baby carriers for our evening walk. It was so cool carrying Ben in this little wrap!}

 

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My dad came out to meet Ben in mid-July. We kept things pretty low-key and close to home, but we still managed to get out to Bottlehouse, go for a walk around Seward Park and cruise through the farmer’s market.

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Throughout the summer Ben’s development has really started to change and grow. It has been so fun watching him figure things out!

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The month of August was spent with Alex’s parents, as well as his sister, who joined us all in mid-August.

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We also took a trip to Lake Chelan to close out their visit.

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Just last weekend my brother and his girlfriend, Becky, came out to meet Ben and hang out in Seattle. I hadn’t met Becky yet, so it was great to finally get that chance.

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Since early July we have been interviewing design/build firms to select one to lead us down a very long road of a major renovation in our house. It has taken a surprising amount of time to research companies, figure out what we want and then meet with them. We’re awaiting our final proposal from one of the companies and then I guess the next step is to choose one {oh, and figure out how we will pay for it!}.

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Another summer project that kept us busy was hiring a nanny. After refining our scope we finally found a nanny who we think is a great fit for our family. She’ll be starting the week after Alex goes back to work. I’ll still be off that week but I’ll be able to spend time with her and show her the ropes before I go back the week after. I will be working part-time – about 24 hours per week, mainly spread out over three days, and primarily from home.

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We have had such a fabulous summer together as a family and are so grateful for the time and memories we had. Life is going to look a little bit different now with us going back to work, so there will be some major adjustments, certainly, but we are looking forward to getting back to reality!

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Winter Break!

For the first year ever, Alex took off the two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Years and we stayed home with no plans or agenda. It was wonderful and so perfect.

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One of the biggest highlights was sleeping in, popping some cinnamon rolls in the oven, lighting a fire and hanging out in the living room all day for most of the first week off. Our living room is an underused room in our house, but it’s probably our favorite because of our fireplace, and now our leather chairs. It was so nice to spend so much time in front of the fire these last two weeks.

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Another major highlight was skiing. The whole west coast got a really big Christmas present in the form of a gigantic snowstorm. It snowed so much here that one of the ski resorts couldn’t keep up with it and couldn’t open {they got 96 inches of snow in 3 days!!}. We skied four days during the two-week break.

{After the snow storm the temps dropped and the sun came out! It made for a couple of chilly days with sensational views.}

{After the snow storm the temps dropped and the sun came out! It made for a couple of chilly days with sensational views.}

 

{Jackson had the best day ever when he got to come with us to the mountains and play in the snow.}

{Jackson had the best day ever when he got to come with us to the mountains and play in the snow.}

{Yesterday we braved the chilly weather {12 degrees with -2 windchill}  and embarked on our first backcountry ski tour together. The avalanche danger was very low and our trek was super mild. It was really fun to get out and explore and get some exercise together.}

{Yesterday we braved the chilly weather {12 degrees with -2 windchill, which is about as cold as it gets here} and embarked on our first backcountry ski tour together. The avalanche danger was very low and our trek was super mild. It was really fun to get out and explore and get some exercise together.}

{Skinning up through the trees on a very well-traveled trail...}

{Skinning up through the trees on a very well-traveled trail…}

{Didn't do too much skiing down, but we made a few turns.}

{Didn’t do too much skiing down, but we managed to find a spot to make a few turns.}

We spent some quality time with lots of our friends, too. Alex’s friend Brian was here visiting for a few days, so Alex got to catch up with him. We also spent a day skiing with Nigel, and another day skiing with Patrick. We spent a rainy morning at the dog park with Ali, Tyler and their two kiddos {and then warmed up with some hot chocolate and grilled cheese for lunch!}. Ryan and Mary brought their babies over to our house one day, and we met them up at Carrie and Patrick’s new house another day. It has been so nice to be able to spend this much time with friends, too!

{Oliver and August at 4 weeks old!}

{Oliver and August at 4 weeks old!}

Henry seemed to love having both of us home during the days – probably because he got to bug us both to let him outside all the time!

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Jackson on the other hand was completely thrown off his kilter with Alex being home and our change of schedule. Towards the end of our break he seemed to be adjusting a little bit to the temporary normal, but I’m sure once we go back to work tomorrow he’ll be happy to have some consistency.

{Hopefully giving Jackson a cheeseburger as a treat on our way home from skiing made up for him being off his schedule. And no, this is not a normal occurrence for Jackson!}

{Hopefully giving Jackson a cheeseburger as a treat on our way home from skiing made up for him being off his schedule. And no, this is not a normal occurrence for Jackson!}

Our vacation was so relaxing and on the one hand I feel like we did absolutely nothing, but then when I look back at what we did do and realize that’s not quite the case. I am so thankful for this break and for the time we spent together. Who knows when the next time we’ll have two weeks off at home by ourselves will be!

The Last Few Weeks

The last couple of weeks have flown by! So much so that I forgot to document them. The weather has been really nice – we even got two legitimate Midwest-style thunderstorms – but it looks like fall is at our heels and will come in this week with a vengeance. I’m guessing it will be short-lived, though. We just returned from a long weekend in the Oregon wine country {more on that soon…} and we are looking forward to quite a busy week ahead!

This week we are celebrating Carrie’s 30th birthday, working hard {big news!: Alex got a VERY exciting promotion at his job… I know he won’t be happy with me for boasting about that but I don’t much care. He is an exceptionally hard worker and I know he is very talented at his job and I am grateful that his team is using this promotion to recognize his accomplishments.}. We will also be welcoming Alex’s parents who are coming for an extended visit beginning this weekend. Summer isn’t over yet – we’ve still got a lot of fun things on our docket. But for now, here’s what we’ve been up to over the last few weeks…

{I am in half-marathon training mode now... I had a beautiful landscape while on my 8 mile run last week and I can only hope for the same view for this week's 9 mile run. I have been having some issues with my IT band and hip flexors. My friend Ryan, a physical therapist, gave me some stretches and exercises to do and they seem to be helping so far.}

I am in half-marathon training mode now… I had a beautiful landscape while on my 8 mile run last week and I can only hope for the same view for this week’s 9 mile run. I have been having some issues with my IT band and hip flexors. My friend Ryan, a physical therapist, gave me some stretches and exercises to do and they seem to be helping so far.

{Our good friends Ryan and Mary are expecting twins in December! They hosted a gender reveal party a couple weeks ago to share the exciting news that they'll be having two boys!}

Our good friends Ryan and Mary are expecting twins in December! They hosted a gender reveal party a couple weeks ago to share the exciting news that they’ll be having two boys!

{Gender reveal cuteness!}

{Gender reveal cuteness!}

{Carrie and me with the mama to-be! We are excited to be hosting Mary's baby shower together in October.}

{Carrie and me with the mama to-be! We are excited to be hosting Mary’s baby shower together in October.}

{We had a great day in the sun at a recent Sounders soccer game.}

{We had a great day in the sun at a recent Sounders soccer game.}

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{These two crack me up more and more each day. We have become quite lax in allowing Jackson on the bed because it doesn't seem to bother Henry too much. I am not enjoying having to wash our quilt more often, but there are worse things to whine about...}

These two crack me up more and more each day. We have become quite lax in allowing Jackson on the bed because it doesn’t seem to bother Henry too much. I am not enjoying having to wash our quilt more often, but there are worse things to whine about…

{My freshman and sophomore year roommate from Iowa State came to visit us last week! We had such a great time catching up with Rachel and reminiscing about the "good old days" of college. Rachel, Alex and I all met on the same day, so we've got a lot of history together!}

My freshman and sophomore year roommate from Iowa State came to visit us last week! We had such a great time catching up with Rachel and reminiscing about the “good old days” of college. Rachel, Alex and I all met on the same day, so we’ve got a lot of history together!

{The three of us! It was so good to catch up :) }

{The three of us! It was so good to catch up 🙂 }

Lazy Fourth of July Weekend

Our fourth of July weekend was super low-key, which ended up being really nice. We were pretty lethargic due to the heat, plus many of our friends were out of town, so it was nice to have an excuse to lay low.

{our "ghetto curtains" also known as beach towels - we needed to cover up the windows in the west-facing closets as a way to keep the heat out of the house}

{our “ghetto curtains” also known as beach towels – we needed to cover up the windows in the west-facing closets as a way to keep the heat out of the house}

In case you’re wondering, it’s still hot here in Seattle, though we’ve gotten a little respite from the heat the last two days. The highs have only been in the mid-80s, which has been amazing.

{88-90 was the average inside temperature from around 3-7 p.m. all week and weekend}

{88-90 was the average inside temperature from around 3-7 p.m. all week and weekend}

The forecast suggests we only have two more days in the 90s and then we dip down into the low 80s and upper 70s for the next ten days. I’m really looking forward to our house cooling down a bit and being able to turn on the stove without fear of our house exceeding 90 degrees inside {which we were thankfully able to prevent!}.

{pasta salads, green salads and grilling have been the name of the game these last 3 weeks!}

{pasta salads, green salads and grilling have been the name of the game these last 3 weeks! do you like our fourth of july table?!}

We didn’t do a ton during the long weekend. One of the big highlights was our hike to Snow Lake on Sunday. In an attempt to beat the heat we headed east to the mountains and went for a moderate hike near Alpental ski resort {the trailhead is in the parking lot of the ski resort}. It’s too bad that there ended up being a temperature inversion which in turn caused it to be hotter in the mountains than at sea level. So much for escaping the heat!

{sunny, rocky hike up!}

{sunny, rocky hike up!}

The hike was gorgeous. The views were endless and I just can’t get enough of the evergreens and cedar trees that dot the mountainside here in Washington.

{pit stop in the shade... ahhhh :) }

{pit stop in the shade… ahhhh 🙂 }

Once we made it within sight of Snow Lake Jackson had a reinvigorated sense of purpose and was determined to make it down to that darn lake. So determined that he was willing to take Alex down to get there! I really thought he was going to just high tail it off the side of the trail and make a beeline for the lake! Thankfully he saved that for once we got down lower towards the lake {you had to hike up and over a ridge and then down into the basin of the lake}.

{view from the top of the ridge looking down at the lake}

{view from the top of the ridge looking down at the lake}

Jackson enjoyed some swimming time while we ate lunch and collectively cooled off. That dog just cannot get enough of the water!

{I think he could have stayed in the lake all day if we would have let him}

{I think he could have stayed in the lake all day if we would have let him}

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While we really enjoyed the views and scenery, I don’t think we’re going to be in a hurry to get back on that trail again. It was quite rocky, the trail was very uneven and it was very crowded. There was also very little shade, which made it a challenge when it was so hot out. Both of us were really glad we did the hike – it had been on our list for at least a year or two – but we’ll find a different one for next time.

{such a beautiful escape from the city - we are so, so, so grateful to live in such a naturally beautiful state}

{such a beautiful escape from the city – we are so, so, so grateful to live in such a state so full of natural beauty}

Other than our hike, we tried out two new restaurants in Madison Park and Madison Valley, two adjoining neighborhoods to ours, and we spent a couple hours in Woodinville doing a wine tasting, picking up our wine club release and scouting out different neighborhoods out there.

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We started off the week, though, with a Mariners game! It was a fun little Monday night event to kick start the week…

{go M's!}

{go M’s!}

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