Pandemic: Week 34

Time has been moving *so* fast lately. With Ben being in school our days are tied to his routine. We had so much fun celebrating Halloween this last week. The weather was really nice most of the week and we enjoyed a lot of extra outdoor time in the city.

Our weekday routine is pretty set, these days. Ben is in school from 8:15-2:15 Monday through Friday and Hannah has her two morning co-op preschool sessions. I run most Tuesdays and Thursdays. Otherwise, we’re playing blocks, reading books or riding scooters it feels like.

It feels harder to play outside with the kids at our house in Seattle. I’m not wild about playing in our front yard, given the proximity to the street, as well as passersby during the pandemic. Ben has shown he can stay in his boundaries really well, so his are a little bigger than his sisters. Hannah, on the other hand, needs some city living practice. The “freeze” game is in our future this week.

We did quite a few nature walks and our first ride through the neighborhood with both kids on their scooters last week. It was SO fun and went so well… until just after we turned around and then Hannah was done scootering. And then so was Ben.

We had to call in the reinforcements to help us get home. Should have brought the stroller.

At the end of the week, Ben had the day off for conferences, so I took the kids down to Seward Park. The park is a peninsula that juts out into Lake Washington and has a really nice, wide paved loop trail around 2.5 miles long. I figured it would be the perfect length for Ben to ride his bike around while I ran and pushed Hannah in the running stroller.

Before we hit the loop trail, both kids rode their scooters on a different trail for a bit. Of course I had to give Hannah a chance to have some fun, too.

We made it halfway around the loop trail and Ben was doing amazing. And then he fell. This fall was pretty intense, actually. The trail was extremely narrow and dropped off down a very steep hill covered in bramble. Poor Ben was super scratched up from the bramble patch he fell into and very shaken up from the scare.

He opted to take a break from his bike and requested to ride in the stroller instead. He bounced back the next day and went for a really nice bike ride with Alex.

Hannah had costume day at co-op on Wednesday and was so excited to spend the day in her baby deer costume. She was adorable. Hannah loves baby deer – we saw a family of deer quite often in our neighborhood in the mountains and Hannah was enamored with the beautiful fawn.

Ben had his costume day at school on Thursday and was equally excited to dress up as a kitty cat. Ben’s favorite animal vacillates between a cat and a caterpillar. His costume was pretty simple and comfy.

I had quite a bit of fun making the kids and my costumes. I don’t normally dress up with the kids, but after this year, I think I will keep it up.

With the pandemic, our plans for Halloween looked a little different than they would have otherwise. We had a party at home instead of going trick-or-treating.

A kitty cat and a witch were the images carved into the kids’ pumpkins. Thankfully Alex is a master pumpkin carver and freehanded their pumpkins. The kids had the most fun turning on the candles {we have flameless candles} – go figure.

The kids helped make trick-or-treat bags that we set out on our porch with treats for any passersby. We invited a few of our friends to come stop by our porch for a treat bag, so it was fun to see their costumes from afar.

We cut out and decorated Halloween sugar cookies. I’m not sure who ate more, me or the kids.

After we put on our costumes we dug into a delicious Halloween snack board, then headed out for an afternoon walk in the neighborhood. We didn’t pass by too many people – it was a bit early for trick-or-treating – but we did see some incredible candy chutes and a few costumes.

Despite all the fun we had, at the end of the day I was lamenting about Halloweens of the recent past. We love doing the big neighborhood trick-or-treat and seeing all of the kids and families in their costumes. In the end, though, I loved seeing the photos you all shared on Instagram, instead.

Daylight savings time threw us for a loop on Sunday. Longest. Day. Ever.

It really was a good day. I took the kids to Madison Park to the beach and for a scooter ride while Alex was riding his mountain bike.

It’s hard to believe it’s November, and Election Day is this week. There is so much happening. Here’s to a safe, healthy and calm week….

Pandemic: Weeks 29 through 33

For the first six+ months of the pandemic I somehow managed to do a weekly blog post. I haven’t been able to keep up and fell about several weeks behind. So, here’s what we’ve been up to since the middle of September.

Ben had a slow transition to doing in-person school. For the first four weeks he would slowly increase the amount of time he was at school. This was really helpful since he had just been at home for six months. It also allowed the kids to ease into mask-wearing for extended periods, as well as get comfortable with their teachers and classmates.

After one of the first weeks of school we ended up going virtual for a week due to poor air quality. Part of Ben’s school’s Covid plan is keeping the windows in the building open; however, you can’t do that when there’s unhealthy air quality.

We were holed up in the mountains that week and I loved getting to be a part of Ben’s school day. Ben’s teacher is truly one-of-a-kind and I adored listening to the kids share and his teacher lead the class through their virtual activities.

We’re sort of expecting with the recent spikes in cases that the chances are pretty high for Ben’s school to shut down this winter and go virtual. My experience with the week of virtual learning gave me hope that it won’t be too bad. Can you believe Ben’s school picture?!

I truly cannot believe how much Ben has grown and changed in the last two months since school started. He has grown up tremendously. His vocabulary is changing, the way he plays is changing and it seems like his imagination was opened to a whole new array of ways to play and learn. Going to school has been huge for him. He LOVES school. I can’t express that enough. He just LOVES it.

Hannah has been adjusting to her twice-weekly virtual co-op preschool. The class is 45 minutes long, though we usually end up signing off after 30-35 minutes when Hannah loses interest. She loves doing the art project and listening to Teacher Shannon’s story.

Hannah’s teacher, too, has done a marvelous job at putting together engaging materials for preschoolers and I absolutely applaud her efforts.

High fives {air fives, I guess, right now} to ALL the teachers right now. You are incredibly inspiring heroes!

During the day while Ben is at school, Alex works from home still {newest orders are through June} and I get to spend the day with Hannah. Most days include a request to go ride scooters up at the park. We occasionally meet a friend there so Hannah can have a little buddy to ride with.

Afternoons go by so fast and generally include a huge snack and ample outdoor time, whether playing out front of our house, going on a nature walk or taking the scooters up to the church parking lot in our neighborhood.

Our weekends have primarily been spent in the mountains recently.

We did have one Seattle weekend, though we opted to take a daytrip to Mount Rainier. The kids have never been before and when one day Ben saw the majestic mountain he asked, I said yes.

Our trip to Mount Rainier was a hit for the kids. Ben loved all of the streams running down the mountain, and we were excited to see little patches of snow on the ground. Needless to say, it was very chilly!

Just this last weekend we had the pleasure of enjoying the first snowfall of the season out at The Lodge! We’d been watching the forecast all week, doing our snow dances, me drinking out of my “Let it Snow!” mug, and sure enough! We got at least 6 inches of beautiful white snow.

The kids *loved* every moment they spent in the snow, and Alex and I had a blast too.

It was especially fun seeing how much more independent Hannah is able to be now that she’s a little older. She was so excited to be able to walk in the snow all by herself.

Alex has been getting into a good exercise groove and I’ve been running a couple times most weeks. It’s been extra special to see neighbors and friends again. We run into a neighbor most days and I’ve been either intentionally or unintentionally seeing friends up at the park. It’s very easy to distance ourselves {while also wearing masks} at the park. The in-person adult time is SO refreshing and rejuvenating. Pair that with a run and I’m golden!

We’re really starting to feel a lot more settled in Seattle and with our routine. September and October have completely flown by now that we actually have things going on. Now that Halloween is coming up in a few days I am getting SO excited to plan for the holidays, even despite the fact that our options and time with extended family will be so limited this year.

All Things Cozy

Coziness is a rather important feeling in our family. We love cuddling up on the couch in a big blanket or making sure we’re warm and toasty with a nice pair of comfy socks. Whatever it is, coziness is a real thing and it creates its own vibe for us.

This year in particular we’re amplifying our cozy-factor and making sure we have all the cozy things to keep up that feeling. I happen to be quite good at finding cozy things. Here are some of our favorites:

For the home

For her

For him

  • Slippers
  • Joggers – Alex’s new office is in our chilly basement so he likes to dress very casually and very cozily. Marine Layer fabric is SO soft.
  • Sweatshirt – super comfy and comes in a bunch of colors

For the little ones

Here’s to a cozy winter at home…..

Hannah is 2-1/4!

Our girl is two and a quarter, and boy is she acting like it. This quarter she has given up naps, become the boss, started preschool, became a pro at scooter riding and fell in love with Pinkalicious. Hannah continues to keep us on our toes with her sass, affection, unrelenting dialogue and her sweet-natured personality. She’s growing faster than we can keep up with!

Hannah’s 2 – 1/4 Stats:

  • Weight: 29.5 pounds {80th percentile}
  • Length: 35-1/2″ {90th percentile}
  • Clothing 3T
  • Shoe size: toddler size 7
  • Number of teeth: 18, I think
  • Favorite foods: pears, apples, strawberries, basically any fruit, chickpeas, oatmeal
  • Least favorite foods: beef, chicken
  • Favorite things/activities: watching her Kindle {Daniel Tiger and Pinkalicious}, playing with her babies, reading books, running, dancing, riding her scooter {!!!}, doing anything art-related, testing boundaries
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, stopping doing something fun, leaving somewhere, not getting what she wants

Our lives have changed pretty drastically during this first quarter of Hannah’s third year. We went from living in the mountains as a family to living there with Alex’s parents, then we moved back to Seattle and started going back and forth. More change, still, came when Ben went back to school. Hannah’s whole world has been upended these last few months.

These changes and/or general development, have coincided with the loss of an afternoon nap for Hannah and a step backwards in being potty trained. Yesterday Alex managed to get her to fall asleep for her afternoon nap for the first time in weeks. We’ve graduated to a “rest” time in her crib for an hour – half the time on her own, the second half with a pile of books to read. She’s just plain not getting enough sleep, though, and by the end of the day she is falling apart.

I’d seen this, of course, for a while now, but the bond and friendship between Ben and Hannah is incredibly strong. These two loves are the best of friends. I truly do not believe their relationship would be as tight would it not be for the pandemic. That said, it’s been very hard for Hannah when Ben has gone off to school. She cried the saddest tears the first few days we dropped him off. She has adjusted now, but it’s clear just how much she misses her brother during the day. {It’s been evident it’s tough for Ben too.}

Hannah and Ben adore playing together. They love dancing, racing cars, snuggling, riding their scooters and playing with blocks. We do a lot of art projects and baking together and they really are getting quite lovely at taking turns. I marvel at how reasonable Hannah is with her brother. She could choose to be nasty and refuse to give his toys back, but she never does. She always hands him his toys when he asks for them. She’s the first one to check to make sure someone is okay after getting an “ouchie” and loves to bring Ben a stuffie to cuddle if he’s the injured party.

One of Hannah’s favorite things to do is to take care of and play with her babies. Her natural maternal instincts have been pouring out both with her babies as well as her brother. If Ben asks a question she usually will jump in and answer with whether or not that’s acceptable or safe, or remind him that we’re eating right now and he needs to stay in his seat. She’s my mini mama and loves to be in charge! Additionally, she is such a rule follower, which is such a funny contrast to other personality traits of hers.

Since moving back to Seattle we’ve had the opportunity to go up to a blacktop parking lot and basketball court for Hannah to practice her scooter, rain or shine. She has picked it up quickly and teaches herself new style tricks each week. It has been a total blast for me to watch her improvements day after day.

In the last few weeks she’s become a lot more independent with her balance bike. She definitely prefers her scooter to her bike at this point. Hannah and Ben love to go on bike rides together at the mountain house.

Hannah had her first trip to the pump track over the summer. Following in her brothers footsteps, she loved it and frequently requests it. She is not independent at all at the pump track so Alex or I have to hang onto her handlebars and take her through the track.

Hannah absolutely loves to watch shows on her Kindle. The only shows she really watches are Daniel Tiger and Pinkalicious and she adores them. I am positive she has the stamina to just curl up on my bed with her Kindle and watch it all day long. Of course I don’t allow this, but some days I think she wishes I would.

Art projects are another one of Hannah’s favorites. Drawing, painting and cutting are regular activities around here. Unfortunately, drawing often takes place on the walls and the floor, so currently all drawing supplies are “under supervision only.”

Her speech is definitely becoming more clear; however, she is still not the easiest to understand. I will generally have to interpret when she is talking to someone other than Alex, me or her preschool teacher. Unsurprisingly Teacher Shannon can understand everything she says, even over a computer!

Hannah is the chattiest of chatty Cathys. She loves to narrate her day, without missing a single detail. Truly once she starts talking she might not be done for five minutes. I absolutely adore listening to her describe her day to Alex and hearing what she chooses to share with him, which parts were the most meaningful for her.

One of my favorites is that Hannah has started asking “how did you sleep?” as one of the first things she says to me when I get her in the morning. She is so in-tuned with conversation and picks up so quickly on what other people are saying and works it into her own dialogue.

Last month Hannah started co-op preschool, virtually. We log into Zoom twice a week for our little class with Teacher Shannon. Hannah pays attention to storytime, then we usually do a craft of some sort and occasionally Hannah will hold on for some songs, but not often. I love that Hannah is getting this enrichment, even if she doesn’t stay for the whole class. Hannah is connecting with another adult, albeit over Zoom, and seeing and hearing other kids.

We just started doing distanced, masked playdates at the park with a couple other “twos” from co-op and I really hope that continues. Hannah was so excited to talk about her “friends” and it is so endearing and so completely heartbreaking that her socialization has been so limited as a result of the pandemic.

Hannah’s personality really runs the spectrum. She is fierce, boisterous and independent, yet nurturing, sweet, clingy and timid. She is confident, tenacious, loving, kind and friendly. She’s going to be a pistol of a teenager, and I cannot wait to see what this personality turns into and what this little girl grows into as she keeps on developing.

Creating Brightness this Winter

Collectively it seems that our society is embracing all things fall while actively dreading the season ahead. Our lives turned on a dime late last winter and it felt like summer gave us a bit of solace – the outdoors, hiking, seeing friends and family at a distance. Many of my conversations as of late have turned to winter: how are we going to navigate it!?

I’m determined to thrive this winter. It’s one of my favorite seasons – I absolutely adore snow and wintry scenes, and skiing is one of my greatest passions. We are busy making preparations in my home to set us up for success during the winter months that are fast approaching. I wanted to share some of our ideas, as well as some that have come up in conversations from friends. I’d love to hear what you’re doing to prepare, too.

  1. Install outdoor heaters
  2. Stock up on cozy blankets for covered patios/porches – social distance adult time is still possible in the cold/snow/rain with a little creativity and planning
  3. Hang holiday lights or big globe string lights to boost brightness outdoors
  4. Add brightness inside – refresh lighting, add candles/flameless candles
  5. Purchase a wood-burning stove or a gas fireplace to up the cozy in your living space
  6. Get an outdoor fire feature – a fire table, build a fire pit or a propane fire ring
  7. De-clutter the house and create lighter spaces indoors
  8. Add indoor plants
  9. Schedule weekly date night in
  10. Embrace a winter sport/hobby – cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking, ice skating, etc.
  11. Make & schedule time to exercise indoors – we’re loving classes on the Peloton app
  12. Make & schedule time to exercise outdoors – Tuesdays and Thursdays are my rain-or-shine running days
  13. Think extra creatively about social time in person, if safe and possible
  14. The Marco Polo app is nice for video messages back and forth when live chat can’t be attained.
  15. If you’re having a down day, reach out! Send a text to a friend and just say “hi.”
  16. Go easy on the coffee & booze
  17. Surround yourself with photos of family, friends and places that make you happy
  18. Find something to look forward to
  19. Plan a hypothetical trip, or a post-pandemic trip
  20. Set a reading goal
  21. Join {or start!} a virtual book club
  22. Fill your life and spaces with positive energy, people and things
  23. Bring out the board and card games and have a weekly game night – virtual games are a thing, too!
  24. Rent an Airbnb in your region and get a change of scenery, plus have something to look forward to
  25. Invest in cozy pajamas and slippers

Setting our collective expectations and attitudes appropriately can help change the course of our winter. We all have unique situations and ideas about what the upcoming season might look like – I hope you’re able to visualize yourself happy, cozy and calm this winter.

Pandemic: Week 28

Life is feeling slightly more smooth, predictable and, dare I say, normal. It was another big week in our transition back to Seattle last week – Ben began school in person and Hannah started her virtual preschool program.

I cracked one of the camera lenses on my {brand new} iPhone at the end of this week, so I’ll be short on photos for a week or so until I get it repaired. I was completely devastated when I realized what had happened. The iPhone 11 camera is unparalleled. I take copious amounts of pictures of my kids and our life and I was so disappointed when I saw that my camera broke. My sweetest Hannah asked me at least 25 times if I was okay.

It was a short week in Seattle, as we only had three nights there. It almost felt like we had a little bit of a rhythm going. I was feeling more at ease and able to do some planning, organizing and thinking.

One mom win on my scorecard was prepping the kids lunches in advance. It was so fun for them to have their cool new lunchboxes {as I write this – they’re on sale!!} to use on school days, even though we were eating at home. I absolutely love making my kids fun, creative lunches.

Sending Ben off to his first day of in-person school in the middle of our global pandemic was strangely fine, but of course a bit weird at the same time. We’re grateful for the slow start and the opportunity to ease into the school year. It’s such a tremendous adjustment for Ben to be away from home.

Ben LOVED school. Absolutely and completely loved it. He is smitten with his teacher and is so comfortable there. Even if we only get another week, heck, another day, of in-person learning, I’m forever grateful we had a week.

Hannah caught me off guard when she was confused and sad after dropping Ben off. Of course she had no idea what it meant when I kept telling her Ben was going to school. She probably has no concept or memory of him ever leaving the house to go to school since it’s been so long.

Sweet, wild Hannah started virtual co-op preschool last week.

One of the other parents in the school created these darling “first day of school” signs for all of the kiddos. Hannah sure is shooting for the moon with her lifelong aspirations {if it’s too small to read, it says “When I grow up I want two chocolate chips”}!

I think it’s going to take a few weeks for her to get into a groove and get accustom to Teacher Shannon and the other students.

She sat there for a bit and was enjoying the story, then we lost her to a pair of maracas.

If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I am not sure Ben and Hannah would have become quite so close. They have been forced to be each other’s best and only friend for six months. Especially for Hannah, it’s going to be a massive change as Ben transitions towards being away at school all day.

We received Ben’s school’s updated re-opening plan, which increases his in-person time over the next three weeks. By late-September, he’ll be going with his full cohort of 11 students for the whole six hour school day.

If I’m being honest I really haven’t processed that possibility. There are so many ways this can all go and I’m working hard, and succeeding, on going with the flow.

That being said, we were thrown a bit of a curve ball last week when a massive cloud of smoke moved up the west coast. The air quality worsened as the week went on, so our outside time in Seattle was relatively limited all week.

We ended up skipping school for Ben on Friday because the air quality went up to “very unhealthy.” That meant we got an early jump-start on our weekend in the mountains.

Of course the smoke followed us east, but not until later in the day on Saturday. We’re still dealing with poor air quality and it looks like we’ll be in the midst of this much of the upcoming week, sadly. Our hearts are breaking for those affected by the wildfires across the west. The devastation is unbelievable.

On a more positive note, last week was our first adults-only social time in person since before the pandemic began. We had our friends Kirsten and Linc over to spread out in our backyard and catch up. Zoom and FaceTime are really terrific ways to keep up with family and friends; however, there is no equivalent substitute for the in-person connection we were able to have. We felt so grateful for their au pair who made our evening together possible!

Now that we’re back in Seattle more we’re hoping to be able to do that more often with friends, especially before the rain comes. That being said, we do have a covered patio in our backyard that would still allow us to spread out if we took the table out. Maybe we should get a little heater for back there and stock up on some cozy blankets!

I have no notable mentions in the food department, aside from an epic, epic fail in the takeout department. However, I do have a very noteworthy coffee mention! We have been using our Nespresso at The Lodge on the daily and I couldn’t bear to not have one in Seattle {I fully realize the ridiculousness of that statement}. It’s faster, less expensive and significantly safer than going to a coffee shop right now, so I pulled the trigger and ohhhhh was it nice making that first iced latte!

We spent the weekend out at The Lodge. This was our last weekend with Alex’s parents out here. The amount of time we were able to spend with them was a tremendous gift, and one I will be eternally grateful for. That time is the exact reason we built this house. We want our family and friends to come and spend quality time with us. Our family and friends are everything to us.

To have Donna and Stan out here for nearly six weeks was so incredibly special for us all. The kids were overjoyed with the amount of Grammy and Papa time they had. They made memories and shared experiences and deepened their bond. We were all extremely sad to say goodbye to them and wished they could have stayed longer. We will miss them terribly and we just don’t know when we will see them, or any of our family, again.

Emergency Preparedness

Maybe it’s the former lifeguard in me, maybe it’s my inner mama bear, I’m not quite sure, but I’m a stickler on emergency preparedness. I’m a planner by nature, and while you can’t plan for every situation, I’d at least like to be prepared in case we find ourselves in the middle of a disaster or emergency.

With all the devastation out here on the west coast I felt compelled to check and re-stock my emergency kits and work with the kids on a fire emergency plan for both houses.

We’re well-stocked on water, non-perishables and all the things in Seattle. I realized I need to create a better kit for our mountain house, too.

Because I typically drive back and forth between Seattle and the mountains on a weekly basis with my kids I have an expansive emergency kit in my car. I just added my bin with winter gear back into my car now that we’re on the cusp of cooler weather out here.

In our older car we have one of these handy window breaking tools. I had to double check with my brother, a former firefighter, about the effectiveness in our 2019 car. Basically most cars made after mid-2017 will have laminated glass, therefore one of these tools will not work to break it in an emergency.

I hope this post serves as a reminder to either double check yours and make sure your kits and plans are up-to-date, or to create an emergency kit and plan for your family. And here’s hoping you never have to use it!

Here are a few resources I’ve used to pull together my emergency supplies and plans:

Pandemic Week 27: Back to School

Transitioning back to Seattle was overflowing with emotions. There was tremendous excitement, a whole lot of frustration, nervousness, and adjustment to a whole new life.

One of our greatest challenges wast the lack of easy outdoor access for the kids. We have a very small yard, but a yard nonetheless, so we’re working on making the most of the space we do have.

I felt like I backtracked to early March when everyone was floundering around, trying to figure out how to cope with the pandemic. We were so isolated in Leavenworth that my adjustment period was very different. There’s a whole new set of norms in Seattle I’ve had to work through.

Our poor dog took everything the hardest, it seemed. Jackson suffers from severe anxiety and it rears its head more in Seattle than anywhere else. He was a complete and total wreck all week long.

Both kids went to the doctor at the beginning of the week. The appointment itself was not easy. This was literally the first time either child was in a building in six months. The parking garage was terrifying, the medical assistant trying to get Hannah’s height and ultimately give Ben vaccines had no patience, grace or empathy and it’s just a scary place to be right now. We survived and the kids are healthy and growing and up-to-date on their vaccines.

Navigating play dates out here last week was quite an exercise. Ben did awesome wearing his mask, giving kids space and making new friends.

We have a little play pod going with a few of the other kids in Ben’s cohort – conveniently, half of them live in our neighborhood. We got together last week so that the kids could get to know each other and have some social time and get to know each other before the Zoom chats began.

Ben started school on Tuesday, which meant he had a short Zoom meeting with his class. The remote meetings were really sweet and provided a lovely way to meet classmates and engage with his teacher and also to see everyone without their mask on.

We all got to go into Ben’s school to meet his teacher in person and visit his classroom. Ben is completely smitten with his teacher.

Later in the week it felt like we were settling into our transition. Far from any sort of routine, but an adjustment to the house, our limitations and the space. We celebrated with a trip to the beach near us!

And I celebrated the success with a coffee from my absolute favorite spot, Madison Kitchen. Lucky for me, they’re doing online ordering and quick and easy pickup.

Ben’s school week concluded mid-day Thursday with a virtual ice cream social. He had been looking forward to it all week long.

While Alex finished his workday in Seattle, the kids, Jackson and I piled in the car and headed east! Our first drive to the mountain house together, just like we did every week all winter and most weeks last fall. I have come to love those drives, just as long as it’s not snowing too much. The kids slept for a bit and I was able to get in a podcast – I’ve been loving the Michelle Obama Podcast.

We savored the last unofficial weekend of summer at The Lodge. Alex’s parents were still there and the kids had a blast with their grandparents.

Alex and I stepped away for a morning and went into Leavenworth for a mountain bike ride/run, followed by a coffee date. It was a very, very lovely day.

A hike we’d had on our list for a while was to walk the irrigation ditch. Exciting, I know! Actually, it really is and it’s really beautiful.

Ben has been all about throwing parties lately. We’ll happily indulge him in that as long as he keeps the guest list at family only. One party he threw last weekend was a popcorn & movie party. We watched “Kiki’s Delivery Service” together. It is such a lovely movie!

Alex humored me and made his famous cinnamon rolls one morning.

Ben got to help Grammy make Nana’s famous sausage rolls, which is something Nana {Alex’s maternal grandmother} is known for making for her grandchildren.

One of the highlights from the weekend for me was our trek at Stevens Pass. There were still wildflowers everywhere and we had the pleasure of checking out the mountain bike trails and exploring the mountain without skis on.

We had such a lovely Labor Day weekend and were grateful for the bonus day together. It made the weekend feel extra long.

Pandemic Week 26: Transition Time

This has been a week filled with anticipation and a whole lot of change. We moved back to Seattle over the weekend!

There was so much up in the air with Ben’s school last week we really weren’t sure when we’d even go back to Seattle. It felt like all of our plans and the week’s schedule were put on pause until we ultimately decided to go back on Friday afternoon.

We made the most of our last days in the mountains with a trip to the beach, hikes and a few nice meals together.

The kids loved spending a little extra time with Grammy and Papa last week in preparation for a little time apart.

Both Ben and Hannah have been getting more and more into art – painting, in particular, and have loved our regular “art on the deck” moments.

A fun activity they enjoyed with Grammy was painting some rocks they found while on a walk.

For our last evening in Leavenworth we went out to Ski Hill to have a picnic. Ben did his first mountain biking jaunt. This kid is a natural on his bike – it’s incredible to watch. He has taken off with his new, appropriately sized bike.

We left the mountain house teary-eyed on Friday afternoon after spending 5.5 months in dreamland, escaping the pandemic. It was so hard to say farewell to such a special chapter in our family’s story.

Upon arriving back in Seattle the mood picked up and we had an absolutely wonderful afternoon and evening. The kids were beside themselves with excitement to see Henry, our cat, who has been weathering the storm {under the care of our neighbors} here in Seattle.

We bumped into so many of our lovely neighbor friends over the weekend, we got ice cream from the shop in our neighborhood, we had the best pasta takeout from our favorite neighborhood spot and the kids relished in being home. We just love where we live.

That said, being back in our small house in Seattle has been filled with an array of emotions. It’s home and it feels like home. But it’s also half the size of the house we’ve been living in and there are no sight lines from one room to the next. It feels dark and closed in and a bit suffocating at times. The kids do not have easy access to just run outside and play, which has been a huge adjustment for us all these last few days.

It’s overwhelming to have toys and piles everywhere and a clingy koala bear attached to my leg, while having my kids making simultaneous demands. My biggest goal for the week is to figure out a plan to not feel overwhelmed here, or overwhelmed when we transition back here, and how to make it easier for my kids to go back and forth.

Alex and I did a major overhaul of our closet. If we’re not going to wear it in the next year, being in a pandemic, goodbye to you {with a few exceptions}. It felt so good to get rid of some of the excess and unnecessary clutter. We cleaned up our backyard quite a bit and I’ve been trying to get rid of a bunch of random things we don’t use or don’t need. It always feels so liberating to purge.

I promised Ben that before he started school I’d take him to the ocean. We headed northwest to Whidbey Island where we landed at Double Bluff Beach, a massive beach on Puget Sound.

Our beach day was extra special because of Ben’s enthusiasm and tremendous interest in marine life.

It was low-tide upon our arrival and it was really fun watching the tide roll in while we were there. The kids have never had an experience like that before.

Since it was low-tide we had the pleasure of finding all sorts of things in the sand – crabs, seashells, live sand dollars and a whole bunch of seaweed.

The kids loved building sand castles and playing in the sand, looking for seashells and Ben had so much fun splashing in the water and making seaweed necklaces. We had a fun picnic lunch and enjoyed the ocean air.

Our adventure to the beach was the perfect end-cap to our weekend on the west side of the mountains. We have no idea what the next weeks or months will look like for our family or for the world. I’m going to have to dig a little deeper to pull together some more creative voyages for us during the week, but I’ll find a way.

Lodge Life: Pandemic Week 25

Well, we’ve spent our last full week of our hiatus out here at The Lodge and we’re preparing to move back to Seattle later this week.

My hands have been thrown up in the air and I’m trying to just enjoy each day. At this point, we know a step above nothing in terms of Ben’s school schedule and all things associated. It’s very hard for me to mentally prepare when I have absolutely no idea what I’m mentally preparing for.

We’re not sure if he has the full virtual learning program the first week of school, or if he has any virtual learning that first week. All we know is that he goes in to meet his teacher and see his classroom sometime that first week. We don’t even know what the “full virtual learning program” entails for a pre-kindergartener.

The second week of school he’s to go in person for one hour a day, we’re just not sure which hour that is and what the remaining four hours of the school day look like.

It’s clear to me I’m going to be provided with the opportunity to embrace constant change and strengthen my flexibility this year.

This last week we were embracing our life in the mountains and enjoying our last days here and the last bits of summer.

The light is fading fast, the sun is sinking lower and lower into the sky and my goodness the leaves are starting to turn. The morning temps are in the upper 40s. Fall is approaching quickly.

One item on my summer activity list that we checked off last week was to do the Tumwater Pipeline hike. I had been wanting to do this hike all spring and summer – I just didn’t want to take the kids there solo for the first time. You just never quite know what you’re getting into…….

As the reviewers warned me, the hike itself is quite anticlimactic. The hike begins with a walk over an impressive old bridge that takes you across the river. From there, it’s a nice walk in the woods. But! It’s flat and I would probably be comfortable taking the kids there on my own again. Now I know!

Ben earned himself a haircut {cut by mom!} last week. Ready for school I guess!

Speaking of back to school, I have no idea what to plan for regarding Ben actually going to school and our living arrangements. Therefore it’s been challenging trying to anticipate wardrobe needs and quantities. In any case, I had fun getting him some new tops and a whole new set of pants.

Thank goodness the kids’ raincoats arrived when they did! We had the tiniest bit of rain and the kids loved it.

We ventured out to the Leavenworth Pump Track last week. It was a strange experience in the middle of the pandemic and we had to wait for the crowds to subside before having the kids take their turn.

We didn’t mind the waiting too much since we had takeout from one of our favorite restaurants.

Hannah had so much fun on her first ride through the pump track. She was so mad at us that we wouldn’t let go of her bike. She needs a bit more practice first.

The day after our pump track trip Ben’s new 16″ bike arrived! We’ve been scouring the internet all summer in search of a bigger bike for Ben and finally Alex found one. It couldn’t be a more perfect fit for Ben.

He adjusted to the new wheels right away – even the new hand brakes, as opposed to the pedal brakes in his last bike. He is SO fast.

Foodie news – I made my first baguette! It turned out really well – I used my regular bread dough that I use to bake our daily loaf with and simply shaped it differently.

I used the baguette for last week’s Friday Night Adult Dinner. We had pan con tomate {bread with tomatoes} and tortilla Espanola. Both of which are some of my favorite Spanish dishes that I’ve been making quite regularly, thanks to my Curate cookbook. It was such a treat to not only have an adult dinner, but have the opportunity to relax and enjoy a tapas-style meal with my in-laws. We had a really lovely evening! {Sorryyyy about the picture.}

Another adulting highlight was Saturday morning. Alex and I headed into Ski Hill together so he could do a long mountain bike ride and I could enjoy a long run. We ended our time with a quick coffee date in the park.

We finished off our last weekend in the mountains with a trip to the beach. The kids loved building sand castles and taking a ride on a kayak and paddle board.

Very surprisingly, no one went for an unexpected swim in the lake! I never stood up on the paddle board when Ben was on there with me – I’m positive if I would have we’d have flipped over.

We’re in our last few days here at The Lodge, enjoying what’s left of our hiatus. I have no idea what’s in store for the fall – heck, the next year. We’re anticipating we’ll be back up here for hiatus part II, but maybe not. In any case, this last 5.5 months have provided the most special family time I could have imagined. Here’s to the next chapter…