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…

Lodge Life: Pandemic Week 24

Oofta – it’s been a busy couple weeks over here and I’m a week overdue on this post! Things are heating up with school preparation and planning to move back to Seattle, plus we’ve been busy having fun with Grammy and Papa.

We were blindsided by some big news from Ben’s school. After being so confident they were going to be able to hold classes in person at 100%, they reneged. I had all the feels about the change of plans. While I wasn’t terribly surprised, it caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting it. And it’s just so sad. It’s so sad.

The picture is a little dramatic, but I’ve seen those big, sad tears several times recently in conversations about how much he misses his friends. It’s super sad, but it’s real and I wanted to capture that moment, as it highlights one of the hardest parts of the pandemic for my sweet 4-year old. Real life, right here.

Anyway, just as we were settling into the idea of remote learning, the school did a little switcheroo and threw a new option in the mix. Now, beginning the second week of school, Ben will be going to school in person.

Typically his “grade” would be divided into two classrooms. With the pandemic, it’s now divided into three cohorts. For this trial period of on-campus learning, each cohort will be cut in half, so he’ll have 4 or 5 other kiddos in his little cluster. Each cluster will go to school on-campus for one hour every day of the week to start. They’re hoping to increase to two hours after a week or two, then re-evaluate at the end of September.

We’re still learning what this all means and what Ben’s schedule and cluster looks like. I know I’m not alone in feeling like my head might spin off of my body from the chaos and uncertainty that is 2020.

Late last week Alex and I made the drive over the mountain pass back to our home of ten years to get it ready for us to move back into. I hadn’t been home in five and a half months.

Both Alex and I were a little nervous about how I’d feel upon returning to our house in Seattle. Let’s be real – it’s a small house with a not-so-ideal layout for having a family or entertaining. After living at The Lodge I’ve become quite accustomed to an amazingly open layout, a master suite and a deck and yard that I can see from the kitchen. I have zero of those luxuries in Seattle.

Upon returning home I felt a sense of peace. Our little home in Seattle is just that – our little home. It’s our home. And we belong there. And I’ll be hard pressed to ever sell it. That said, I’ll happily jump on board with a major renovation, which has been something Alex and I have toyed with for the last four years. I think it’s time to take the plunge and put our dreams for this house in motion. More to come on that note.

Our time in Seattle was lovely. We both absolutely adore our charming neighborhood. It was winter when we left, so I was marveling at everyone’s lush gardens and how much has changed, but how much stayed the same. It was less challenging than I expected to deal with physical distancing and mask-wearing while out for a walk. Everyone was wearing a mask out and about, so that was refreshing to see.

Back in the mountains and our 24th week, we did all the things from taking a trip to the blueberry farm to hiking, hiking and more hiking.

Hannah fell in love with a cat at the blueberry farm. Girl loves animals!

I had the most amazing running adventure with my friend Joanna when we ran another half marathon together.

We ran along the Little Wenatchee River, an incredible area I had never explored. It was so serene and secluded. Running with Joanna has undoubtedly been a highlight of the pandemic for me. Joanna is SO BRAVE and adventurous and I just follow right along with my bear bell jingling on my hip.

During our run we found a little swimming hole, which I took the gang to the following weekend. The water was frigid and flowing, the flies were biting and it was so, so, so beautiful.

Alex took Donna and Stan up on a hike along the ridge that looks down over the river and our valley, including our house. It’s a very steep hike but they were able to walk out our sliding doors and head out on foot, which I think is pretty cool. Hannah and I even saw them standing up there.

What a dream it is to have this natural beauty surrounding us. The more and more into our time here the more we realize just how special these mountains are. It is really hard to believe our time out here is winding down.

Lodge Life: Pandemic Week 23

The weather is changing out here at The Lodge and it is really starting to feel like fall is just around the corner. The aspen trees have that golden glow when the sun hits the leaves that look like those special early fall days. We’ve had a very mild summer – really, it felt like we only had three weeks of true summer heat this year.

This week we had several themes: flexibility, change, grandparents and hiking!

Alex’s parents arrived on Wednesday afternoon and will be staying here at The Lodge until mid-September.

The kids couldn’t be happier. They’re loving this extra special time with Grammy and Papa. It’s been just over five months since we’ve seen them, which is probably the longest we’ve gone without seeing them ever.

I have to imagine the kids are enjoying the variety in having other people around and playing differently with Grammy and Papa than how Alex and I play with them. Their imaginations are running wild!

We’ve enjoyed a few hikes with Donna and Stan.

Friday I took them, along with the kids, on a very easy 2-mile round-trip hike to Hidden Lake.

The views of the lake were picturesque.

Over the weekend the highlight was our Icicle Gorge hike.

It’s one of my favorite hikes. It’s very family-friendly, though at 4.6 miles it’s a bit long for little legs.

We meandered at a cruising pace of 1 mph for the first two miles. Post-lunch we buckled the kiddos in the hiking backpacks and made our way through the trail a little faster.

The views of the crystal clear river were spectacular.

The trail is quite popular and we encountered a number of other groups, most of whom were also wearing their masks. Everyone was very respectful and either we or they would move off the trail to the side to allow for space to pass by safely.

I’m not sure what our next hike will be, but it has been so rejuvenating getting out to the trails so much in the last week.

Before Grammy and Papa arrived we spent the week at home. The kids have been loving taking our mini easel out onto the deck and doing drawing. All. the. time.

Hannah is particularly into drawing these days. She always wants me to draw her family and a house, then she draws her variation alongside.

We are having the pillars by our front door replaced right now. It’s been quite a project, it turns out. It looks like he might wrap up today or tomorrow, though.

We’re in the beginning of wildfire season out here in the mountains. We’re so very grateful it’s not been a very active season this year; however, there is one 380 acre fire not far from us. We’ve had quite a lot of helicopter traffic overhead and the kids have enjoyed watching the firefighting helis carrying their gigantic buckets of water to help put out the fire.

Wednesday we received a note from Ben’s school informing us that they’re in the process of re-evaluating their decision to open up in September. The governor announced new guidance last week that they are now considering. We’re hoping to have their update and final decision mid-week, though we know that the school can decide at any point to move to all virtual.

Finally, in food-related news, we’re loving the incredible peak-summer produce right now. The Washington peaches are divine and the nectarines are even better. I cannot get over the green beans – they’re just the best thing. One of my favorite foods. I had to make a second batch last week for Ben.

The kids loved this fun muffin tin snack I made them last week. I’ve seen it all over Instagram and finally thought to do it myself. No surprise there!

We made one of our go-to dinners, BBQ chickpea quinoa bowls, last week, which were a hit. Otherwise, we’re just rotating through our faves. Joanna Gaines’ pancakes. Pasta with pesto. I made a simple lettuce salad with a traditional vinaigrette. Avocado toast. Bread on the daily. Burgers. Takeout. Panzanella!

Assuming we’re still set to move back to Seattle in a couple weeks we are soaking it all in and making the most of our time out here in the mountains. Here’s to the new week ahead…

Moving Home

We’ve been out at The Lodge now for about five months now. It’s looking like Ben’s school is going to be 100% in-person come September. That means we’re preparing to move back home to our primary residence in Seattle.

Our time out here has provided memories we know will last a lifetime for Alex and me. We can only hope at least Ben takes some of these memories with him forever. This time, hunkered down, has changed us all and will help shape our future. Alex and I have had so many conversations about what the short and long-term future we imagine might look like, and I’ll tell you, our thinking has changed quite a bit from what it was pre-pandemic.

School is what is pulling us back to Seattle, and frankly, we’re wondering {expecting?} if sometime in the fall or winter the kids’ schools will move virtual and we’ll be back at The Lodge. The coronavirus is raging in Seattle and it’s really hard to wrap our heads around sending the kids back to school, but Ben’s school is confident it has the resources to bring kids back safely.

Ben will be starting pre-kindergarten at a private school that has the capacity to social distance, spread kids out and cut class sizes. Hannah will be starting preschool virtually at a small co-op.

It’s going to be a massive change for us, having been here for so long. Hannah had just turned 19-months old when we arrived at The Lodge and she’s going back a potty-trained 2-year old. Our kids are different kiddos than they were when we left. They’ve grown up in the mountains.

Our house is not set up for a 2 and 4 year old. We still have Hannah’s high chair out, and we’re anticipating she’s going to move to a toddler bed any day now. We don’t need her changing table, and she’s jumping into 3T, so she won’t fit any of the 18-24-month clothes hanging in her closet. Her toys and books are for that of a baby, not a full-fledged toddler.

We’re certainly nervous for all of the unknown associated with COVID-19 and returning to school amidst a global pandemic. Life as we knew it doesn’t exist anymore – we know that much, at least. There will be big emotions, certainly from us all, as we adjust to our new normal.

I want to make sure we allow plenty of time for us to get settled and for us to have some Western Washington fun before school starts up. I really want to take Ben to the WA coast and try to find some safe, local adventures nearby to help ease us into the transition.

The kids are now overdue for a visit to the dentist, vaccines and a well-child check-up. We’re skipping a haircut for Ben to avoid another possible exposure opportunity. So, we have a lot to catch up on before they start school.

We are certainly nervous about our move back to Seattle. It’s been so easy to weather this storm on 3 acres in the middle of nowhere. When we arrive back in Seattle we’ll be able to high five our next door neighbor from our kitchen window. We’ll don our masks every time we walk out the front door. Life as we left it in Seattle does not exist anymore.

We have savored the family time, our precious time in the mountains and simply slowing down. It’s been so so so special.

Here’s to slowly starting to close the chapter on our spring and summer riding out the pandemic at The Lodge and beginning a new chapter on weathering the pandemic in a city where one of our children is attending school…….. wish us luck!

Lodge Life: Week 22

This last week we were feeling all the feels over here. It was a really tough week in our house. Alex had his last week at his job and is beginning his new position {same job different team} today, so he was busy making that transition last week. Later this week we’re expecting Alex’s parents to arrive from Illinois, so we’ve been preparing for their arrival and for the change ahead. More seriously, our week began with the heart wrenching news of the death of our friend’s 3-year old son, who died in a vehicle crash right outside his house.

We’ve known Finn since he was two weeks old. His family was in our parent support group {PEPS} that we attended with Ben. They live four blocks from us and Ben and Finn attended preschool together in the past. Our lives are interconnected with Finn’s family and we share quite a large number of friends and acquaintances. It has devastated our neighborhood and “mom” community.

Finn would have turned four this week. On his birthday Ben made four wildflower arrangements in honor of Finn and in celebration of his life. Ben has been asking all the questions this week about Finn and his death. It’s been really enlightening to hear him process this. It’s been a really big deal for Ben, as it has been for us, too.

I’ve been working with a group of folks to support our friends’ family through this time. I’m petitioning the city for more roundabouts and speed bumps and general speed zones/awareness in our neighborhood. Additionally, I’m working to help create a scholarship fund in Finn’s memory at the forest school his mom founded. It’s nice to have a few initiatives to funnel my energy and sadness into.

Thankfully we had something fun to look forward to last week. I packed the kids in the car and we drove through Blewitt Pass over to Suncadia Resort, about an hour and a half away from us. We went to enjoy the day with my friend Shannon and her two boys, both of whom are about 18 months older than each of my kids. I took almost zero pictures, surprisingly.

Suncadia is in a county with very few Covid-19 cases and they were able to open their pools at limited capacity. Shannon invited us to come swim with them. I knew this would be the only opportunity we’d have to swim in a pool, I expect for sure for the remainder of the calendar year.

Of course the kids had a blast. Hannah took a little while to warm up to the pool but once she had her Puddle Jumper on she was comfortable and confident. It was such a fun time!

Earlier in the week we had a morning beach trip, too. The kids just love playing in the sand.

And yes, I swear Hannah has a swimming suit. She hates when it gets wet and wants to take it off.

We all made a pilgrimage to the Leavenworth Farmers Market in 105 degree heat. Ben had been asking all week to go to the farmers market and he picked out three beautiful bouquets of flowers from a local flower farmer.

I picked out an entire box of peaches, which I’m going to be freezing and also making a peach crisp or pie.

My own vegetable garden was a massive flop. I’m not exactly sure what the culprit was – likely a combination of the birds {I think they ate the seeds} and Hannah and maybe under watering. Thankfully, though, my tomatoes are growing really well, despite having been dinner last week for the deer.

We made the best Rice Krispies treats on Friday afternoon. Naturally they were gone by Saturday afternoon.

In school related news we received some major updates on Friday afternoon. Hannah’s co-op preschool will be starting 100% virtual. We received an email from Ben’s school shortly after that confirming their plans to start 100% in-person.

I have been asked to serve as Hannah’s class representative at co-op and Ben’s grade level representative at his school. I’m really honored and excited to be stepping into those positions to play a more active role in their school experience. It will be quite challenging to fulfill these jobs amidst the pandemic when so much will be virtual, though. What a time it is.

We’re jumping headfirst into August, preparing for a month with tremendous change for our family. Here’s to the new week, new challenges and new changes ahead…

Lodge Life: Week 21

We had an extra special week celebrating Hannah’s 2nd birthday and enjoying a few bonus days with Alex, as he took off some time from work.

Our week started out with a busy Monday – I took the kids to the beach that morning, then we made a post-nap trip into town to a blueberry farm.

We beat the crowds to the beach and enjoyed some sunshine and a calm lake, then headed for home before too many people arrived.

It was an absolute scorcher that day – 97 degrees when we were at the farm. I figured the heat would keep the crowds at bay and I was right! We had the farm all to ourselves.

The kids and I had such a blast at the blueberry farm. Naturally, we picked blueberries.

The farm also boasted some beautiful rows of flowers and invited us to bring home a bouquet of freshly cut zinnias.

My flower-loving boy was so enamored by the rows and rows of brightly colored zinnias and helped make the selections.

Hannah’s second birthday came mid-week, along with the start of Alex’s time away from work.

For our beach loving birthday girl we made a trip to the beach. Our time there was rather quick, as it ended up being extremely windy.

The rest of the day was spent celebrating our sweet girl and playing with some of her new toys.

It’s been so sweet watching her take care of her new babies and push them in the stroller.

We enjoyed birthday cupcakes in honor of our adorable two-year old.

Late in the week we packed up the car and set out on a day trip to Winthrop, Washington, a quaint town in the Methow Valley, located 2.5 hours north east of The Lodge. It’s a town known for cross country skiing in the winter, wildflowers in the spring and its beautiful scenery in the summer. I can only imagine how striking the autumn backdrop is with all of the aspen trees changing colors in fall.

We were a little nervous about the drive, as our last day trip was only 1.5 hours away. It was 1.5 hours of misery for us all, thank you, Hannah. But this trip was different, thank you Kindles! Both kids did exceptionally well and there was virtually no napping, surprisingly.

We spent a little time walking the streets of Winthrop, taking in the charm of the old western town.

We were so impressed by the seriousness with which folks were taking the pandemic. I’d say at least 90% of people walking around {outside} were wearing masks. People would move off the sidewalk to also provide the recommended six feet of separation. It wasn’t very crowded at all, and we felt so comfortable being there.

Of course we got ice cream at Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe. It was absolutely delicious!

Ben led us on a bike ride/walk across the river where we could take in the views some more.

Our final stop in the Methow was Pearrygin State Park. This was the highlight of the trip for the kids. They absolutely LOVED swimming at the beach.

It was a quiet beach with sand and relatively few people, 100% of whom kept to themselves. Hannah was extra excited to have both Alex and me in the water. It was the most comfortable and adventurous I’ve ever seen her in a lake before. She had several tumbles from the waves and got knocked down and pushed under water but quickly relaxed and went back to having fun.

Our excursion was extra fun because none of us had ever been to the Methow before. I had signed up for a half marathon taking place there in May 2020, which of course was canceled. I was most disappointed with the cancellation because I had been looking forward to exploring the area.

We hope to return to the area as soon as we possibly can. We have so much more to see and do.

In other musings, Alex decided to buzz his hair. I’m not sure what he’ll torture us with next but I’m guessing we’ll find out in August.

Have you tried ButcherBox? We’re partway through our first box and so far I’m impressed. If you haven’t heard of it, ButcherBox is a meat delivery subscription service.

Hannie and I perused the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale preview over the weekend. I look forward to this sale all year long. It’s where I stock up on my kiddos winter outerwear, I usually find shoes and boots for them {and myself!} and get great deals on next season’s clothing. I’m still shopping the preview and my wishlist is filling up!

The kids are living in the sprinklers and splash pad. It feels like I’m making a new batch of ice pops every other day. We’re savoring all the al fresco dining. Summer is in full swing and we are loving it!

Our weekend was full. Alex got a mountain bike ride in both days and I got a run in Saturday and Sunday, as well.

To finish off the long weekend together we piled in the car and headed for a 95 degree jaunt at Ski Hill. Alex did a mountain bike ride, Ben did a “mountain bike” ride and Hannah and I tagged behind.

We picked up a pizza from one of our favorite spots in town, Tumwater Bakery, and picniced in the parking lot.

We’re gearing up for our last week out at The Lodge as a family of four. We have some major changes on the horizon – Alex’s parents are expected to arrive early next week and stay through mid-September. Also happening next week is Alex’s first day of his new job {same company, different team}. We’re preparing to move back to Seattle in just a few weeks in anticipation of Ben’s school beginning in September. Lots going on out here!

Hannah is 2!

I keep having to remind myself that Hannah hasn’t already been two for a while. She’s been acting like such a two-year old for a few months now that it’s funny we’re just now celebrating her birthday. But, lo and behold, our girl is TWO!

Hannah’s 24-Month Stats:

  • Weight: 26 pounds, 6 oz {88th percentile – as of 1/22}
  • Length: 32 inches {60th percentile – as of 1/22}
  • Clothing size: 2T – anything I buy now is 3T
  • Shoe size: toddler size 6
  • Number of teeth: 16
  • Favorite foods: smoothies, pasta, cheese, watermelon, strawberries, crackers, cookies
  • Least favorite foods: beef, chicken
  • Favorite things/activities: reading books, playing anything with Ben, digging in the sand, climbing, swinging, watering, seeing animals, pouring water, and taking baths.
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, not getting what she wants

As a two-year old, Hannah is nurturing, so loving, extremely strong-willed, chatty, sassy, opinionated, conscientious, athletic, observant, independent, loud, animated, bright, cuddly, so so happy and absolutely delightful. She has her own style and goodness sakes, she knows what she wants. Our little Hannie has quite the personality and I just can’t get enough of her.

Communication continues to be a major theme for Hannah. It’s hard to estimate her vocabulary because I’m positive she has more words than we realize. I’m thinking she’s approaching or exceeded 400 words.

The complexity of Hannah’s sentences blows Alex and me away. The other day she said, with tremendous animation, “There is an ant in the grass! They bite my feet!” She is putting together proper pronouns, subjects, prepositions, and building off of her basic vocabulary with all of those fun filler words. She can even identify a few different types of birds.

I’ve been mentioning for months that it’s very difficult to understand Hannah, especially out of context. I was concerned she would need speech therapy so we got a referral and ended up having a full developmental evaluation for Hannah yesterday. The gist of it is, in all areas, aside from fine motor skills, she’s developmentally aligned with a 35-38-month old. We always knew she was ahead of her age and it was so cool going through the assessment, realizing a lot of the things she can do are pretty advanced skills.

Regarding her speech, it turns out it’s on-par with her age, so that was great news! All of the areas we were concerned about are age appropriate. She has so much to say and is so bright I want everyone to be able to understand everything she says, so we’ll certainly keep monitoring and making sure she’s on-track.

A few fun/new things she’s said this last month:

  • “I did it myself!”
  • “Nope!” {favorite word, normally followed with a sly look and an eye roll.}
  • “Mamaaaa! Where are youuuuu? I found you!”
  • “I love you!” {she’s started saying this unprompted}
  • “Excuse me!” she said after she sneezed and she says when someone’s in her way
  • “I go to school!”
  • “Mama, hold me like a baby?”

Lately Hannah’s relationship with her blanket and her babies has been developing in the sweetest way. She has such a natural maternal instinct and I’ll often catch her brushing her baby’s teeth, sharing a bite of food with her baby or taking her baby potty. She loves to cover up her baby with her special blanket and she often wants her blanket with her. For months and months she’s wanted her blanket to be laid out on the floor for her to sit on.

Hannah and Ben’s relationship has also transformed quite a lot in the last month or so. It’s certainly been evolving for a while, but these two are turning into the best pals. On occasion they’ll hold hands and walk through the field or forest together. Ben is usually the leader and Hannah is so pleased to be included in his creative play.

Riding her bike or scooter continues to be one of Hannah’s favorite activities. She just loves it and my goodness she is really getting the hang of it. It is so fun going out to the street to take a little spin with the kids.

Our girl is a natural dancer. She definitely got that from Alex. She waltzes around on her tippy toes like a ballerina, perfectly and so naturally does Alex’s “spaghetti arms” move and just generally moves to the beat of the music so fluidly. This girl has got moves. I so wish I could put her in a dance class right now – she would absolutely love it. I’m going to try to find something on YouTube in the interim.

Hannah is always there to lend a helping hand. From a very early age she has been terrific at sharing with Ben – that has only gotten even sweeter. She is quick to share her food with others, “dada, want a taste?” as she holds up a bite of her food. The other day Ben was asking for more of something and she started scooping up her food and putting it on her plate to share with him. She loves to clear her plate and even put things into the dishwasher. Cleaning up toys is usually an enjoyable task for her and she always sings the “clean up” song.

This girl keeps us on our toes, usually in the best way possible. She is just an absolute delight and I cannot get enough of her. We are absolutely smitten with our Hannie and are so, so very excited to continue to watch her grow and thrive as a two-year old! And now that she’s two, I’ll switch to quarterly update posts like I do with Ben.

Ben is 2

Lodge Life: Week 20

Summer’s heat has arrived at The Lodge and we’ve been doing all the things. All the things at home, that is! The coronavirus is raging in Washington state and we’re extra hunkered down. Hunkered down and happy. The kids are having a blast just being kids, running around at home and riding their bikes and scooters.

Despite being hunkered down, we did venture out to the beach on Monday morning. Make no mistake, we were there by 8 a.m. and left by 10:30 and saw very few other people. It’s a huge beach and we largely had it to ourselves. The perfect way to start the week!

Alex took Monday morning off and we eased into the workweek. It was such a treat.

The weather was perfect and we ate the best blueberry muffins and played in the sand together.

It’s been HOT this week. Our yard is largely full-sun, though the kids are getting good at finding the shady spots. Our sprinklers and splash pad are on heavy rotation these days. Also noteworthy is Hannah’s newfound love of sparkling water. I feel you, girl.

Ice pops are eaten on the daily. The one’s we’ve been making most recently are just strawberries, yogurt, vanilla and a sprinkling of sugar, so my kiddos can eat them ’til their heart’s content! Here is the base recipe I use, though I cut the sugar down substantially and I used frozen strawberries. I have a couple new recipes to try this week. And here’s a link to our ice pop mold.

We’re in full-blown summer food mode here, too. The kids helped Alex make burgers one night. It was the sweetest. Neither of them are too into burgers, sadly.

One afternoon I had them help me shuck corn, which really took me back to my childhood.

In other food-related news, I made a winning snack board for lunch one day. The kids gave it their stamp of approval.

I found some burrata and paired it with some tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic, salt and basil and served it with some toasted baguette. It was practically a meal on its own.

Alex and I had two adult-only dinners this week. Friday we enjoyed ribs together, post-bedtime. Saturday I made my favorite Tortilla Espanola. We love our adult dinners and at-home date nights to catch up and try to do them at least once a week.

We’re taking great joy in the little things. Bike and/or scooter rides are daily occurrences now. The days have slowed down drastically, and, for us, in the best way possible.

These little experiences together are extra special these days.

Knowing it’ll be quite a while before Ben steps into a hair salon, I gave him his first “quarantine haircut.” It was getting a liiiittle scraggly. Here’s the before:

I think it turned out pretty well. Far from perfect, but it’s definitely cleaned up.

My cousin, Chris, and his wife and two kids spent the weekend out near us and stopped over for an outdoor play date. Ben had the BEST time playing with Henry and Claire.

It was so sweet seeing him engaging with other kids. There were times where they did okay with physical distancing and times where it was non-existent. This age is so hard for them to give others’ space.

Saturday morning I went for a nice long and hot run, then we took a family bike ride into the farmers market. We set up a little picnic, grabbed some sausages from Frank’s Franks {a weekend sausage stand at the hardware store} and enjoyed our time together. We devoured our berries and tried a few new varieties, including saskatoons and yellow Anne’s.

Alex took his mountain bike into town Sunday morning and did a ride on Freund Canyon. He reported that the ride up was great, as was the view at the top, but the way down was rather nerve wracking after seeing not one, but two, rattlesnakes on the trail!! Yikes.

We’re gearing up for the hottest week of the summer, thus far, along with a birthday celebration for our Hannah on Wednesday! Cheers to the week ahead.