Hannah is 23 Months Old!

We’re one month away from having a two-year old!!! Honestly, though, we keep forgetting that she’s not two yet because she’s been acting like it for a while now. Hannah is so precocious.

Hannah’s 23-Month Stats:

  • Weight: 26 pounds, 6 oz {88th percentile – as of 1/22}
  • Length: 32 inches {60th percentile – as of 1/22}
  • Clothing size: 2T
  • Shoe size: toddler size 6 – new shoe size this month!
  • Number of teeth: 14 with her last two canines popping through
  • 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

So much has happened with Hannah in the last month it’s hard to even know where to start. The beginning of her 23rd month was filled with a major physical and intellectual growth spurt that seemed to last about two weeks.

When she was on the other side of her growth spurt we noticed so many changes. First of all, she grew! Her feet outgrew her shoes overnight – of course with the shipping delays she had to wait an entire week for new shoes. She got very good at stealing her big brothers shoes in the meantime! Now Hannah can reach the rings on the swing set and has an easier time climbing up into the chair at the counter.

Intellectually this growth spurt turned her into a full-fledged two-year old. She’s throwing tantrums, refusing to get dressed and she is potty trained!

Her communication is really incredible. She is still very difficult to understand; however, she’s been working really hard, mostly with Alex, on properly sounding out words and it’s getting slightly easier to figure out what she’s saying. We can typically get the gist and she’s actually an incredible non-verbal communicator.

It’s really hard to say what Hannah’s vocabulary really is, just because many of her words are unintelligible. I’m guessing, though, that her vocabulary is probably somewhere around 300-400 words, maybe more and I just don’t know. She’s stringing together 3-5 or 6 word sentences and the complexity and variance of her sentence structure really grew with this last developmental leap.

Hannah was showing signs of potty training readiness for a while. I took a very laissez faire approach and let her run the show. Sure enough, she did and she is officially potty trained!

Hannah is fiercely independent. She wants to do everything herself. Usually she is very patient with herself as she tries something new and keeps trying and trying. She’s started saying “I did it!” with enthusiasm, pride or sass. She loves an audience and will frequently ask anyone, including the dog to “watch this puppy!” when she is trying something new or doing something silly.

A major milestone for Hannah this last month has been learning how to ride her balance bike and Ben’s scooter! Alex and I had previously been pushing her on both. One day I just decided I was over that and if she wanted to ride the bike she had to do it herself. So she did!

With each passing week Hannah’s personality comes out more and more. When Alex chose her name, he named her Hannah because he thought about a tough but girly girl with her pigtails pinned up under her ski goggles, zipping down the mountain – a girl who could really keep up with the boys. He chose Maxine after his grandmother who was fierce and tough and wouldn’t put up with anything out of line – she told you how it was and that was that. It is remarkable how well our Hannah Maxine is living up to her name.

Hannah knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. She knows her body and herself and is learning how to ask for some space when she needs it. Hannah is overflowing with love, affection and sincerity. She’s the first to ask “are you okay, mama?” if I {or anyone} gets hurt, then meets the injury with a gentle caress from her chubby, beautiful little hand. She is rough and tough – some of her injuries and falls almost go unnoticed it seems, and she’s very quick to pull hair, bite or hit when she wants attention or is upset. If she does get hurt she brushes herself off and tries again.

My girl is ever the helper. She is so nurturing and has the loveliest maternal instincts. She is always at my side, ready and eager to help me with absolutely whatever I am doing. She’s my expert waterer when we’re tending the garden, she puts the dirty clothes into the washing machine and then the dryer, she wants to do whatever she can to help cook or bake and she always wants to help fill up the water table.

I could go on and on and on about how enamored I am with this girl. We just adore our ferociously spirited sweet Hannie.

Ben is 23 Months Old

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 15

It’s starting to feel a little silly titling these posts “quarantine” now that it seems most people have forgotten we’re amidst a global pandemic. I’ll have to re-think that for next week. In this 15th week we’ve spent out at The Lodge, we had cool and stormy weather and it was a bit of a stormy week for our toddler, as well.

A big highlight from the week was Alex’s new mountain bike! He’s been talking about wanting to get into mountain biking for a while now and decided to take the plunge because, well, what a better time than now!?

He took it for a few test rides with the kids – we even did Allen Family Bike Camp in our yard so everyone could practice their maneuvers.

Over the weekend he really put it to the test with some actual mountain bike rides on his own. He biked up Natapoc Ridge, the ridge just behind our house. He ended up riding the exact route I ran a few weeks ago so it was fun to compare notes about the trail/forest service road.

We ended the weekend with a family trip to Ski Hill where Alex got to ride the mountain bike trails and I took the kids on a hike. Ski Hill is known for its mountain bike trails in the summer and I think we’ll be coming back as often as possible to foster this newfound love.

One of our favorite things about having our mountain house is the proximity to hiking, nature and now, for Alex, mountain bike trails. The opportunities are endless.

On that note, we’re working on putting together some summer activity lists {Alex won’t let me call them “bucket lists”} and I’m pretty sure Alex will have his own checklist for mountain bike trails to ride. I’ll post about this separately.

I had a low-key running week. I ended up only running one day and had a whole week to make up for, so I made it a long one. Unfortunately I didn’t hit my weekly running goal {goal: 15 miles, actual: 10.3 miles}; however, I am quite proud of the accomplishments in the run I did take.

Another fun highlight from the week was celebrating Ben’s last day of preschool.

Ben’s teachers put together a very sweet Zoom graduation to commemorate the year.

Our week was a little rocky at times, as Hannah has been going through a massive developmental milestone, both physically and mentally, it seems. She just outgrew her old shoes, overnight it felt, and is approaching the next clothing size and she has two teeth that just cut through. All of a sudden she can reach more things on her own, including the rings on the swing set. I’ve been seeing more and more two-year old behaviors from her lately which for some reason caught me off guard.

One of the delightful two-year old behaviors was her enthusiasm towards learning how to ride the balance bike and Ben’s scooter independently this week! It was a major accomplishment for her.

Side note: did you know that a three-year old is not considered a toddler!? Here I’d been calling Ben a tot as a three-year old but I now know that he was a preschooler instead. It feels weird to say I only have one toddler, even though that’s been the case for a year now!

It’s hard for me to believe that we held out on screen time longer with our second child than our first, but we made it to 22.5 months with Hannah, so we almost got to age 2, American Academy of Pediatrics! This week the kids’ new Kindle Fire tablets arrived. Hannah has been enjoying watching Daniel Tiger {modern day animated show based off of Mr. Rogers} and Ben, of course, has been watching Octonauts. There is a steep learning curve and I’m very much at the bottom of it, so I have a lot of exploring to do to figure out some high-quality content for both kids.

Ben and I had a super quick date on Saturday night. He wanted to come with me to pick up our take-out. It ended up being a really, really special time. We chatted and I carried him into the restaurant and we snuggled in our matching masks as we waited for our food. I even let him have a bite of cookie in the car on the way home. Plus, it was a really great {and quick!} way for him to start getting used to wearing his mask.

Last bit of very important news: I got new slippers and they are basically the best things that have ever been on my feet. How did it take me so long to try Ugg slippers!? I’ve been a Minnetonka Moccasin and LL Bean slipper wearer for many, many years but I’m moving into Ugg camp from here on out!

I decided to splurge on ordering some peonies from Sinclair & Moore, a Seattle-area wedding planner. With weddings being canceled for the foreseeable future, they pivoted and are offering flower arranging videos, and of course, flowers to arrange. I certainly didn’t do any out-of-the-box arrangements but I did learn a bit and put together two beautiful arrangements.

We’re launching into the first sixteenth week of summer vacation like Ben and his rocket!

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 14

While much of the country seems to be loosening its restrictions for the pandemic we’re still very much hunkered down here in the mountains. Washington state is doing a phased re-opening by county. Where we are is still very much in phase one of re-opening, which essentially means nothing is open. It’s certainly been feeling like people are trying to move on from being in the middle of a pandemic, but we’re still playing it safe.

It’s been another week filled with strong emotions of extreme joy and sadness. Our family has had an absolutely wonderful week together; however, the events happening around the country have me feeling distraught and like I need to take my own action.

I had already purchased some new books for Ben for his birthday around culture and racial inequalities, so the timing of that purchase worked out well. While I had already intended on teaching Ben more about race and racial injustices, the timing of the most recent Black Lives Matter protests have amplified that. I have a lot of learning and personal exploration to do surrounding race, racism and white privilege, and particularly what I can do and what my family can do. We’re having a lot of really thoughtful conversations in our family and I’m certainly proud of that.

In other news, our four year old has really been acting like he’s four this week. He has been at his absolute best and is just the sweetest. We have had some extremely special moments and conversations with Ben this week.

We’ve had a blast playing with Ben’s new birthday toys. One of them, a build and take apart car, inspired a lot of building. We’ve been building and taking apart the car and doing a ton of playing with Duplos.

One of the kids’ favorite activities right now is running through the sprinklers – Hannah prefers running around while the sprinklers are on next to her.

I took the kids on a couple mid-week outings. It’s been nice getting out and about while places are quiet; however, once we move into phase two of the state’s re-opening, our peaceful and quiet beach will be overrun with campers at the adjacent campground.

Ben and Hannah absolutely love going to the beach. They both love to dig in the sand and Ben lets his imagination run wild and creates scenes from his favorite show, Octonauts.

Late in the week we went into town and did a short hike at Ski Hill. Ben had fallen asleep in the car on the drive there and upon our arrival was too tired to be a walker. Into the hiking backpack Ben went. Which means I got to carry two children on our hike.

Hannah is basically potty trained. I can take absolutely zero credit for this, aside from providing a toilet for her to use in exchange for an M&M. She has the biggest sweet tooth in the family and she’s totally taking advantage of the M&Ms, so we need to re-work that reward. Normally I’m opposed to rewards, especially in the form of food, but for potty training, I’ll be flexible.

Alex and I had the best at-home date night on Friday. We try {and certainly do not always succeed} to have a date night each week where we put the kids to bed then cook dinner together. This week’s date night was extra fun because we “traveled to Spain” – I made pan con tomate {tomato bread} and tortilla Espanola {basically a fritatta with potatoes and onions}. Both dishes are extremely popular in Spain and remind me of our travels together. We had so much fun cooking together and hanging out, just the two of us, in the kitchen.

Our weekend was delightful and very low-key. We headed back into town so Alex could take the kids on a hike {spoiler alert: he ended up carrying both of them for much of their hike, too} while I went for a run.

We ended our evening with a picnic at the base of Ski Hill. After our hike/run, Alex drove down the hill and picked up some pizza from one of our favorite Leavenworth Restaurants, Tumwater Bakery. It was so, so lovely. Ben was in the absolute best mood and kept trying to serve us all – he’d pick up a piece of pizza or pull a piece of sausage off of a piece of pizza and ask if we were ready for more.

We ended the weekend with a relaxing day at home. A major highlight was a little family bike ride we did together. Ben takes so much joy from riding his pedal bike. It was so endearing watching him practice and practice – he even told us he was practicing to get better for the pump track.

Alex has been getting in quite a few bike rides during the last couple weeks. I’ve also been running a ton. It’s been so rejuvenating for both of us to have time to ourselves to exercise.

We’re ready for another week and the start of our fourth month at The Lodge!

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 13

This has been a week filled with emotions on both ends of the spectrum. We’ve had an absolutely incredible week, as Alex took the whole week off of work and we celebrated Ben’s fourth birthday. While we were out having fun it seemed like our country completely fell apart. My heart just aches for the events that took place in my home state of Minnesota, as well as around the world, over the last week. I’m not going to dwell on that here, but wanted to make note that this was a roller coaster of a week with both joy and sorrow. Let’s focus on the joy!

Our sweet Benjamin turned four!

We celebrated him with a rainbow-themed birthday party with the four of us in attendance. I wasn’t sure how his quarantine party would go and if he’d be disappointed. In the end, I felt like it was an extra special day focused around Ben and what he loves and what’s important to him.

Most of our week was spent at home. The majority of Washington state is still very much closed-down with our stay-home orders in effect. Even once we move to phase two {no projected date} we will still lay low for a while. We’re not in a hurry to be the first ones out doing anything.

We took a day-trip to Lake Chelan. That was probably a summer highlight for the kids.

Our first stop was at Lake Chelan State Park to enjoy the quiet, rocky beach. The kids had a blast. Alex and I forgot how crazy it is to bring our two monkeys to the beach, especially over a mealtime. They’re not too keen on sitting still for any period of time.

From there, we moved into town and strapped the kids helmets on and cruised the one-mile loop trail.

Ben had a perfect opportunity to practice with his two-wheeler in a slightly hilly setting. It pushed him to really work on getting started all on his own and he nailed it!

In addition to our day-trip, we ventured into Leavenworth and did a family hike at Ski Hill.

Since it was a Tuesday we figured the town would be pretty quiet {we were right} so we decided to pick-up dinner for the first time since the beginning of March. We ordered sausages from our favorite sausage house and had a picnic in the town center.

Our other outing for the week was a late afternoon trip to the beach at Lake Wenatchee State Park, just up the road from us. We kept our outings to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to ensure the crowds were at bay.

The kids had so much fun going to the beach two days in a row. It’s really hard to take the kids out in public right now. They don’t have the impulse control and understanding of the situation with the virus to truly keep their distance from folks, so it feels a little more micromanagy than my personality likes.

Check out our new wagon! We LOVE it.

The weather made us feel like summer was in full-swing this last week. I believe we hit 90 degrees at least once. The sprinklers and splash pad came out, the water table was heavily used and gosh the kids go through swim suits quickly!

The pollen. Oh my goodness, the pollen. We literally had clouds and waves of pollen coming across the field at us all week long. Thankfully Ben was kind enough to hose off all of our deck furniture. It needs it again, though…

We baked doughnuts and Ben’s special Turtles Cake {chocolate & caramel cake}. Alex made some delicious ribs for dinner one night and we have been baking bread daily. I made our family favorite pulled pork for Ben’s birthday.

I spent a lot of time dreaming of Spain {I studied abroad there in college} and the time Alex and I spent in Europe together. We’ve had several conversations lately about dreams and goals we have for our family and one thing we’ve continued to come back to has been travel and exposure to various cultures around the world. Our ultimate dream is living abroad somewhere for a year or some unknown amount of time. In the short-term I’m hoping to make a couple things out of my new Spanish cookbook this week.

From all of us here at The Lodge, we hope you have a wonderful week and we send our love.

Ben is FOUR!

Ben sure has been starting to act like a four-year old the last few weeks! His independence, imagination and creativity have been exploding lately and we are so excited to be celebrating Ben’s fourth birthday today.

Ben’s stats:

  • Weight: hopefully more than 33 pounds {this is so out of date!}
  • Height: around 41 inches {also out of date!}
  • Clothing size: 4T on top, 2T shorts, 3T pants
  • Shoe size: size 9 toddler
  • Favorite foods: crackers, pasta, any type of cheese, yogurt, smoothies, cottage cheese, most meats, roasted chickpeas
  • Favorite activities while in quarantine: playing with his stuffies, listening to music, playing outside, picking wildflowers, riding his two-wheel pedal bike, reading books together or looking at books independently, getting lost in his imagination, watching The Octonauts.

The last quarter of Ben’s fourth year has been spent entirely in quarantine at The Lodge, with the exception of one week. Ben has been such a trooper as we abruptly adjusted to this strange new normal. His whole world was turned upside down on a moment’s notice and you’d hardly know by how he responded.

Exploring in nature is something that seems to comes naturally to children. Throughout our time living in the mountains these last {almost} three months Ben has discovered and cultivated a love of flowers and plants. He has a keen eye for wildflowers and we’ve enjoyed taking wildflower hikes and identifying what we’ve found.

Some of his favorite things to do right now include playing pretend in his “house” {the space under a large tree in our yard}, digging in the dirt, swinging on the swing, going on mountain adventures and playing in water – the sprinkler, water table, spigot….

Ben is doing an exceptional job of just being a kid. All he wants to do is play.

That said, our academic progress this spring has certainly tapered off. Ben had zero interest in doing the remote learning videos or associated worksheets from his school to make up for time lost in class.

Certainly Ben’s personality is still forming and emerging; however, we’ve gotten to know him quite well over these last four years. Ben is empathetic, kind, aloof, curious, focused, independent, strong-willed, charming and loving. He is energetic and social and he leans towards the introverted end of the spectrum. Ben is also really funny and has begun occasionally speaking in a different accent.

Ben is quite athletic and loves to run around, climb things, play baseball, kick his soccer ball, ride his two-wheel pedal bike and play catch with a ball or Frisbee.

We even managed to get in a couple ski days at the very beginning of our time in quarantine. Ben LOVES skiing.

Another favorite physical activity Ben enjoys is dancing! I’ve noticed on our hikes lately that when he gets really excited or finds a patch of beautiful wildflowers he will just break into a dance. He has always really enjoyed music and we love to have little family dance parties.

Speaking of hiking, this is a new favorite activity of Ben’s. He has been really into our hiking adventures and loves being a walker.

These days Ben is off in his own world a lot of the time. He has a wild imagination and loves to let it run. It’s perfect for quarantine because he can create scenes in his mind where his favorite characters come to life and are playing with him. Right now his absolute favorite show is Octonauts on Netflix.

Baking has been another favorite pastime we’ve all enjoyed together recently. We’ve made countless loaves of banana bread, poked holes in focaccia bread and pulled together our famous Friday night pizza dough about a dozen times this last quarter. I’m not sure how many cookies or cupcakes we’ve made – I’ve lost track!

Ben is really starting to develop patience and understanding for the process of baking. He’s building awareness and the ability to slowly mix with control so the ingredients don’t go everywhere. His absolute favorite thing to do regarding baking is the decorating.

For years now I’ve said Ben is as sweet as they come and I really mean it. He’s extremely loving and affectionate and absolutely adores his little sister. I can’t get enough of the two of them playing together.

Now that Hannah is working so hard at becoming a talker, sometimes Ben tries to be an interpreter. He’ll often say something like “I think Hannah means….” or “I have absolutely no idea what Hannah is talking about!” He’s quick to be her little cheerleader to encourage her when she uses the potty.

Lately Ben has been in an adventurous eating phase and has been very eager to try new foods. I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out with our garden this summer. Hopefully with his involvement in the growth of several vegetables he’ll be inclined to give them a try.

I don’t feel like we’ve hit the “why” phase where 10,000 times a day Ben asks “why?” He’s extremely curious and asks really thoughtful questions, but it’s not always “why?” A lot of times he’ll just ask “Is a narwhal a type of whale?” or “where do coyotes sleep?” or “can you show me a picture of a houseboat?” His questions often end up being more along the “how” lines than the “why” lines. I will say, though, that I love his inquisitions and find it so fascinating to see how he processes new information.

Ben has done a lot of growing up this year. I have heard that age four is oftentimes quite a magical one, and we’re quite looking forward to it. I enjoyed so much about age three and it’s been a rather humbling experience to navigate my little threenager. We are so excited to get to know Ben as a four-year old. He has so much to look forward to this year!

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 12

Our twelfth week at The Lodge was one filled with activity and adventure. There was hiking and trail running, sprinklers and projects galore. Each day we’re realizing just how much we can do without getting into a car.

That said, mid-last week I did pile the kids in the car and we headed into Leavenworth to go for a very kid-friendly hike at Leavenworth Ski Hill.

The wildflowers were abundant and both kids were so excited to be out on a hike. It was a very special memory.

I took the kids on a big running excursion early in the week. There was a road marked on Google Maps as a road but I ended up finding out that it was a private driveway. Nonetheless, we made it almost to the top of that ridge and had the most breathtaking views.

Are the views better when you’ve worked really hard for them? Ben and I were both disappointed when we came across the property owners and had to turn around, not far from the top. I worked SO hard to push that dang stroller up the gravel road and it was a big letdown not to have been able to complete our mission.

The rest of the week we had to make up for it so we continued to scout out new adventures. Memorial Day weekend brought us two family hikes, a bike ride for Alex and the kids, and a run/hike combo for me!

Together as a family we tried to hike up the ridge that our house overlooks, but we failed to find the trail. The hike ended up becoming a long walk with hiking backpacks on.

The next day we hiked up Beaver Hill, which was a quick and steep jaunt. Ben was a walker and loved every minute.

Alex got clearance from his doctor last week for bike riding after his knee injury {he dislocated his knee in early March} so he finally brought his bike out from Seattle and has been loving getting back into cycling. On Monday he took the kids on a bike ride near our house and they had a blast. He took zero pictures.

While Alex was riding his bike with the kids I went for a run/hike with my friend Joanna. She took me up the ridge that overlooks the Wenatchee River and our house and the valley we live in.

The hike up the ridge was brutal. It was a game trail and it felt like we were going straight up a cliff. It was so steep and overgrown and it was not what I had expected at all.

The view from the top of the ridge was absolutely breathtaking. Once we found ourselves at the summit of the first ridge we were able to run up to the top of the next ridge. From there, we ended up winding our way down the other side of the ridge and running home on the road. It became quite an adventure!

In other news, we accomplished a few small projects in the yard over the course of the week. Alex helped me put up the tomato cages and now that I have a good grasp of where everything is planted I traded out my little craft sticks for some cuter plant markers. We have a few vegetable starts in the garden, which are fun to look at, and quite a few little sprouts popping up.

We also planted 38 dahlia tubers and I can hardly contain my excitement for when they start growing. I just hope our dog doesn’t dig them all up first……

Our irrigation water got turned on last week so we’ve been able to run the sprinklers again. Alex spread a bunch of grass seed to over-seed the lawn and fill in some gopher holes and has been having fun driving his lawn tractor.

We completed the tiniest little project I can imagine, but sometimes those are the projects that end up making a really big impact. We have a little spigot out on the corner of the swing set that is perfect for filling up our watering cans, as it’s adjacent to the gardens. The trouble was that it would turn into a muddy puddle every time you turned the water on. The kids helped us collect some rocks and we put an extra patio paver down and voila! We worked together on a small project with huge results.

Hannah is the proud new owner of this fun tricycle, an early birthday gift from her grandparents. It’s a hotly contested item in our toddler household, but oh my goodness, she loves it.

In food-related news, I’ve been baking bread every day. It is such a siple pleasure I’m getting so much joy from. Also last week I made our first watermelon, feta salad with mint from our garden. Ben said “Mama that salad looks SO delicious!” It was.

One of the biggest, most special highlights from the week was the absolutely incredible rainbow we saw. It was the most perfect rainbow I think I have ever seen. We sat out on the deck just staring at it.

We’re starting this week out with all four of us home together! Alex took the week off of work, a MUCH needed break for both of us. We are so looking forward to spending more time just the four of us and get out for a few mid-week outings. Also this week, we will be celebrating Ben’s fourth birthday on Sunday!

Hannah is 22 Months!

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

Hannah’s 22-Month Stats:

  • Weight: 26 pounds, 6 oz {88th percentile – as of 1/22}
  • Length: 32 inches {60th percentile – as of 1/22}
  • Clothing size: 2T
  • Shoe size: toddler size 5 – new slip-on Crocs this month!
  • Number of teeth: thirteen, with #14 almost all the way in
  • Favorite foods: smoothies, pasta, cheese, any fruit, cottage cheese, COOKIES
  • Least favorite foods: beef, chicken
  • Favorite things/activities: reading books, playing anything with Ben, digging in the sand, climbing, swinging, watering, seeing animals, pouring water, and taking baths.
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, not getting what she wants

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

Some of my favorite things Hannah is saying right now:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ben is 22 months old

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s my hunk, formed into a ball.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out that fresh cut grass!

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

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

What We’ve Been Eating in Quarantine

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

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

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

Some of my most favorite quarantine meals have been:

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

How we’ve been grocery shopping

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

Fruits:

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

Vegetables:

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

Recipes

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

Kelsey’s Chickpea & Feta Salad

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

Dressing

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

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

Tuna Noodle Salad

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

Mix all ingredients together, enjoy!

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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