Hannah is FIVE!

Hannah has always seemed to act her age or even older, so it feels so natural that she’s five. Her birthday was a couple weeks ago and we had the best time celebrating our tenacious girl.

Hannah’s five year stats:

  • Weight: 41 pounds
  • Height: 42″
  • Clothing size: mostly 4/5 but really starting to outgrow it!
  • Shoe size: toddler size 10
  • Favorite foods: watermelon, ice cream, blackberries, strawberries, basically anything sweet
  • Least favorite foods: beef, chicken, most vegetables, anything I serve for dinner
  • Favorite things/activities: playing with her babies or dollhouse, watching her iPad, reading books, playing outside, running, dancing, riding her bike, painting, baking
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, stopping doing something fun, leaving somewhere, not getting what she wants

Ever since Hannah was about two, maybe even a little younger, she has shown such an innate nurturing side to her. One of her favorite things to play is with her babies – she loves the Wellie Wishers dolls from American Girl Doll. She also loves her doll house, her adorable little mice, and any object or item that she can turn into a character or family.

More recently it has been so special to see Hannah’s imagination and creativity blossom. She’s always been imaginative and creative, but there’s a new maturity to both. We’ve been learning that she loves to create stories in her mind. She also loves to paint and her artistic skills are becoming more refined and a little less abstract.

Hannah’s personality is just so fun. She is so silly, nurturing, sweet, matter-of-fact and genuine. She is so good at playing and imagining and pretending. She tells you how it is and knows what she wants {and doesn’t want!}.

She has so many wonderful qualities that will benefit her tremendously as an adult {many are a liiiittle challenging as a parent!}… she is tenacious, she knows what she wants, she is incredibly persistent and strong-willed, she is brave and curious, she loves to learn, she is a tremendous problem solver and she does things on her own time.

Recently, a teacher suggested she’s quite like an owl – a quiet, thoughtful observer watching in the shadows, waiting to make its move.

Hannah absolutely loves her family, her routine, familiar people and places, and her home. It can take Hannah a while to warm up to new people and she is often very, very quiet until she is ready to jump in. Similarly, in new situations, it typically takes her a while to feel comfortable. During the school year she really appreciates having her Friday “mama-Hannah days” where we relax, recharge and spend the day together.

One of my favorite things about this last year with Hannah is watching so many things click and fall into place. Hannah truly does things when she is ready – good luck to you if you try to push her before that point.

With skiing and swimming this last year she put the pieces together and last winter became a much more independent and absolutely fun, beautiful skier. This summer, just within the last few weeks, she became comfortable enough to put her face in the water and that has now lead to cannonballs, somersaults under water, diving for rings in the deep end and an absolutely gorgeous crawl stroke.

Hannah played “kinderkicks” soccer last summer, just after turning 4, and joined in a little tiny bit, but mostly wasn’t ready. This fall she says she’s ready to get out there and join in on a soccer team, and that she wants to join the Nordic ski team this winter and play t-ball in the spring. Mid-way through the last year Hannah was able to begin ballet class, which she loved probably more than anything. She participated immediately. And she did the recital!

During the last school year Hannah made some lovely friendships. Previously, she was more of an observer at school, and this year she really got into the mix. She has a few very good friends and certainly knows who she likes and who she doesn’t like. In just a few weeks she will start her new school program where she’ll be in a class with mostly new kiddos, but her best friend will be joining her. She is soooo excited for her new program, which will be 100% outdoors, with most of the time spent hiking and exploring down by the river.

It feels like we’re at a really exciting point with Hannah. Five is such a big age and so many things are coming together with her. We’re really looking forward to this next year with Hannah!

Summer Swimming!

Our second home this summer seems to be water – anywhere we can find it!

We’ve basically been living at the Leavenworth Community Pool, which is absolutely amazing. We continue to be incredibly grateful for the outdoor pool and the wonderful, attentive lifeguards who keep us safe.

The kids have been taking swimming lessons all summer and have progressed in ways I didn’t even imagine were possible at this point. Ben has become an absolutely beautiful and strong swimmer. Next summer he will be joining the local swim team. Hannah has put all the skills she’s been working on for the last year into practice and she’s finally swimming on her own. Both kids can do an impressive cannonball!

In addition to the pool, we’ve been swimming in the river and our local lake, Lake Wenatchee. The level and swiftness of the river subsided rather quickly this summer and it’s made for a lot of fun in the local swimming holes.

One of the summer highlights was going to Slidewaters, a water park in Chelan. The kids loooveeddd it.

One of our goals this summer was to simply enjoy it. I think we’re nailing it.

Road Trip 2023: Oregon Coast + Redwood National Park

We kicked off summer vacation this year with a big camping road trip down the Oregon Coast to Redwood National Park. The trip was filled with making memories, s’mores every day, chilly weather, exploring, a tremendous amount of work and planning, as well as the gorgeous surroundings one would expect.

The first day of our road trip we made it all the way down to the central part of the Oregon Coast. We stayed at South Beach State Park in Newport, Oregon. The drive down the coast was really fun – we stopped for the best iced Americano we’ve ever had in Astoria, conveniently located 1 block from The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop houses.

Tillamook, Oregon is home to Tillamook Creamery, so naturally we stopped there for ice cream, cheese curds, mac & cheese and the little amazing cheese square snacks they make.

Our first two nights of camping were overall really great. I had an incredible night sleep the first night {then it went slowly downhill from there} and the kids absolutely love camping, so it was fun to see them experience it again. Of course there are challenges when you combine children and camping, but they were outweighed by the fun we had.

We loved exploring the beach, which was adjacent to the campground! It was not at all warm but it sure was beautiful.

The biggest highlight of the trip took place on our drive down to Redwood National Park. We stopped at the Oregon Sand Dunes {specifically the John Dellenbeck trailhead} and it turned out to be one of the most unique, FUN and incredible experiences I think any of us has ever had. It was an absolute blast!

The sand dunes went on seemingly forever! It was like nothing we’d ever seen before.

Our southmost destination was Redwood National Park – we stayed in the northern portion of the park at Del Norte Coast campground. It was completely opposite from our campground in Oregon – we were surrounded by massive trees and our campsite was private, teeny tiny and tucked up into some bushes.

We spent a full day exploring the park. We drove through Howland Hill Road and ended up doing most of the Boy Scout Tree trail. Our day ended the day at Endert Beach, which was another highlight of the trip.

After our day in the Redwoods we opted to cut our trip a little short. We were all tired of being perpetually cold {it was 55 and windy the whole time} and were all ready to get home. So, we decided to high tail it home, bypass our Hood River campground and do the whole drive in one really long stretch.

Our drive home was just fine – we stopped at In ‘N Out Burger, a fantastic park in Portland, a donut shop in Portland and then made a beeline for our house, which we made it to just before the sun set. It was so good to be home.

All in all, it was a really lovely trip. We had some wonderful family time, made a boatload of memories, had new experiences and explored new places. We learned a lot about travel and what we want and don’t want {hint: we’d like a beach vacation where it is actually WARM!}. We’re happy to be home for the rest of the summer now.

Kindergarten Graduate!

Now that it’s almost time to go back to school, I’m playing catch up! And I’d like to present to you our Kindergarten graduate! Ben’s school did the sweetest graduation for all of the kindergarteners. It was so special.

It’s amazing how much he’s changed in the two months since his last day of Kindergarten. I’m really looking forward to his upcoming year as a first grader!

Ben is SEVEN!

Ben is really, really growing up! It feels like seven is such a turning point for a kiddo to transition from a little kid to a big kid. Gosh, he is getting so big and has become so capable. It’s been suuuuch a fun year with Ben!

Ben’s stats:

  • Weight: around 46 pounds
  • Height: about 49 inches
  • Clothing size: kids small (6/7)
  • Shoe size: kids 13
  • Number of teeth lost: 2!!
  • Favorite foods: crackers, pizza from school lunch, tacos, mac & cheese from The Old Mill
  • Favorite activities: playing outside, climbing, running, riding his bike, doing art projects, skiing, spending time with friends/family, jumping on the trampoline

Ben’s personality is certainly evolving as he gets a bit older. He is wildly inquisitive and curious – the depth of his inquisitions is honestly a bit mind boggling, as are the connections he makes. He is incredibly thoughtful and caring, so friendly, confident yet cautious, loving, cuddly and just so funny.

Ben has always been extremely independent. He really appreciates being able to do all the things for himself and on his own, and he also likes to make his own decisions. He craves autonomy in every way imaginable.

Ever since Ben was in utero he just didn’t stop moving. That continues to hold true for the most part. Ben is incredibly active and has impressive endurance. That said, if he’s interested in creating something or working on a project, he’s content to be still and focused.

This year Ben was on the Nordic ski team and played soccer in the spring. He took Spanish and swimming lessons in the fall. He’s certainly starting to refine what he loves and doesn’t really enjoy. I’m quite curious what this next year will look like for him in terms of the activities he chooses to pursue.

Some of my core memories of Ben are watching him ride his bike at the Leavenworth pump track – even as early as a two-year old. He is an impressive and confident biker. He has some remarkable goals on his mountain bike this summer.

Skiing with Ben is a sheer delight, I think for anyone. He is so much fun to ski with. If you can keep up with him, that is. He loves ducking off into the trees, finding the wildest bump sections to cruise through. It is simply a blast skiing with him.

Ben and his sister are the very best of friends. Sure, they argue and fight like siblings, but their love for each other gives me all the warm fuzzies. One of my absolute favorite things is to watch the two of them play pretend together.

Ben is at the tail end of his second year in kindergarten. We are SO happy with our decision to have him move into the school in town and begin with kindergarten. He is learning things that he wasn’t taught last year and his reading and writing foundation is incredibly solid now. He’s made some really lovely friends and he got to have another year where play was a part of the school day. He’s almost a first grader!

It sure seems like we have a lot of big kid changes on the horizon. I am really, really enjoying this phase of life with Ben and am also really looking forward to seeing how he continues to grow and change. What a guy he is!

Ben is six

Ben is five

Ben is four

Ben is three

Ben is two

Ben is one

Spring 2023

Our spring is flying by this year, and gosh it’s been a nice one! The transition from winter to spring was very slow – it took quite a while for the snow to melt and for it to really warm up. For the last three or four weeks we’ve been enjoying the absolute best spring weather!

The wildflowers this spring have been absolutely spectacular this spring. The hillsides are exploding with bright yellow balsamroot and purple lupine. I’ve started to see the orangey red Indian paintbrush popping up here and there, too.

We’ve been getting out to hike, run and ride bikes as often as possible to enjoy the wildflowers and sunshine.

Ben has been playing soccer this spring, though his season has already wrapped up. As with every soccer season he’s progressed tremendously from the start to the end. It seems like he’s enjoyed this season and probably made the greatest transformation. He scored his first goal ever during his last game! It was an absolutely incredible shot and I really hope I always remember that moment. It was a big one.

Hannah started doing ballet in January and absolutely loves it. Her recital is coming up tomorrow!

Alex has been getting out on weekly trail runs with the local trail running group. They’ve covered a lot of ground so far – this was a major highlight of his summer last year and I have a feeling that will be the case this year, too. He has also been mountain biking regularly and has been loving riding with friends and exploring new trails.

So far I’ve only gotten out on my mountain bike once, but have been hiking or running most days. It’s been so fun getting out exploring. It’s even better when Alex or a friend joins me.

We’re days away from planting the garden, though with the warm spring we’ve had, it seems we could have put everything in the ground several weeks ago. You just never know! Our strawberries are bursting with flowers – I am so excited to see how much they produce in their second year.

Our property is just over three acres, so there is a lot to do to maintain it year-round. We always have a very long spring clean-up list, and this year was no different. We’ve made really terrific progress, though it seems like there will always be projects. My car survived the long winter and mud season and has been staying pretty clean, thanks to regular maintenance touch-ups.

The grandparent parade has begun! My mom came for a visit a few weeks ago and she brought the gorgeous weather with her. We enjoyed a lot of time outside together.

Alex’s parents arrived recently and are spending several weeks with us this spring. My dad will come visit next month, as well. The kids are loving having grandparents here! It’s been so fun.

We are rounding the corner real fast towards the last day of school and a big birthday for Ben! We have so much to look forward to as we make the transition from spring to summer. More to come soon!

Winter Recap

You’ll have to excuse me from a two-plus month hiatus from blogging. Really, I’m not sure what I would have written about, aside from skiing, since that seems to be all we did this winter. And goodness was it fun!

Our winter started early this year – November 3rd, to be exact. We got our first snowfall that day and the Nordic trails opened just a few days later. The cards were stacked in my favor this year – it turned out I picked the right winter to embark on the challenge of skiing 100 days.

The beginning of winter is my absolute favorite time of the year. There is so much excitement and anticipation of snow, skiing, Christmas and all the joy that comes with the holidays.

This holiday season was no exception. We had such a snowy December and the kids are at such fun ages to really get into the Christmas spirit. It felt extra special.

Alex’s family came to join us a few days after Christmas. Ben and Hannah had the best time playing with their cousins. It is such a treasured relationship.

Alex’s parents stayed with us for most of the month of January. It was so fun having them for an extended period of time, and watching them get acquainted with winter in the mountains.

The prime winter days were largely spent skiing, unsurprisingly.

Ben participated in the local Nordic team again and absolutely loved his experience. He leaned into his competitive side during his first Nordic races – he did the 1K in both races.

A really fun non-skiing highlight of the winter was Ben *finally* losing his first tooth! He’s been eagerly awaiting that moment for years now. I wasn’t sure Ben could be any cuter, but it turns out, he is even more adorable with his little toothless smile. His first tooth came out the night before Valentine’s day, followed by the second one two weeks later.

Just after Christmas Hannah started ballet. She absolutely LOVES it.

Hannah’s downhill skiing ability took off in leaps and bounds this winter. She started the season completely unwilling to ski on her own and finished it as an independent skier, capable of skiing most blues at Stevens Pass, our local resort.

I had no idea how much fun you can have skiing with your children, but it turns out it’s one of the best parts of parenthood, at least in my experience. Both Ben and Hannah are just so much fun to ski with.

Hannah dances down the mountain and you can tell by looking at her that she’s having a blast. Ben is a completely different skier – he is so focused and so unbelievably fast. I really have to work hard to keep up! But he loves to check out new lines, find the best jumps and cruise through the trees.

Alex started a new job just before Christmas and he’s been hard at work during the day, which has left us little time to ski together this year. I’m holding out hope for next winter! We did manage to sneak in a few Nordic laps at lunch and one alpine day when the kids were in ski school.

Of my 100+ days, many of the weekday ski hurrahs were on my own. I really leaned into Nordic skiing, partly because I absolutely love it, and partly due to the convenience.

One of my favorite ski days of the whole season was the first time I took Brooks with me to the See ‘n Ski trail sort of near our house. I’m not sure exactly what made it so fun – was it Brooks? Or the variability in the trail? The sunshine? All of the above?

The kids had the week of Presidents’ Day off of school, so we made it an adventure week! It was a blast. And exhausting! We went rock climbing, skiing, to the gymnastics gym, and we took a day trip to Seattle.

This winter was a bit fickle for our ice rink. Christmas day marked the beginning of a six+ week warm stretch filled with rain, rain and more rain. The temps dropped just after Presidents’ Day and Alex resurrected the rink! He had the best curling night and the kids invited a bunch of their friends over and ended up essentially playing broomball without even realizing it.

I’m really into “challenges” this year I guess. Another challenge I’m in the middle of is cooking my way through the Half Baked Harvest Super Simple cookbook. It is SO GOOD. I have loved this delicious challenge and it has really helped pull me out of a seriously boring food rut.

I have so many highlights from this winter it’s really hard to narrow them down to not make this an entire novel. Skiing with friends and family, silent morning coffees with a book, watching my kids grow up, trying new things, chicken fingers at the ski lodge, volunteering in the lunchroom, watching the fire, Saturday date nights at home, watching the snow fall, listening to my kids laugh, getting hugs, ice skating in our yard, nearly finishing the guesthouse, and being home. All the little things made this winter what it was. Unforgettable.

Ski Season!

This is my absolute favorite time of the year. Bring on the snow!! And let’s go skiing! I’ve come to realize in adulthood that winter is the time I am often happiest. As a mother, some of the moments I feel most confident and joyful are when I am taking my kids skiing, either alpine or nordic. It’s such an important part of our lives.

This year we started out alpine skiing with one completely independently skiing kiddo. Three cheers for that!!

And our Hannah girl, true to form, hadn’t been ready to be skiing on her own. Physically she was there, and had been since last season, but she likes for us to somehow be connected. The least back-breaking way for that to happen is for Alex or me to hold one end of a ski pole with Hannah next to us, holding the other end, and skiing down together.

We could tell that she was at a breakthrough moment and managed to get her into a private ski lesson at Stevens Pass. The timing was perfect and by the end of her private lesson she was an independent skier! And now she is absolutely crushing it!!

Ben joined the local nordic team again, and Alex is coaching. We absolutely love that our community drops everything to support the ski team and rally around these kids. The spirit of our small rural, mountain community is filled with love, support and connection. We feel so fortunate to be a part of it.

This year Ben competed in two WA Nordic Cup races, classic skiing without poles in both. Especially at his first race he did exceptionally well. The lack of poles did not do him any favors, though! He’s a great little skier and was so proud of the ribbon he was given for his participation.

We’ve been skiing as much as possible as a family, both alpine and nordic.

Alex and I managed to get a ski day at Stevens in while both kids were simultaneously at ski school. We had so much fun skiing together!

I set a goal to ski at least 100 days this season. As of writing this, I’m at day 54 {and 28 consecutive!}. Luckily for me, we got such an early start to ski season I think I should be able to make this happen! It’s been a really fun challenge.

Our winter has been so incredible so far, and we still have so much of it left to enjoy! It feels like we’re living and breathing skiing right now, which is so much fun. We surely belong in the mountains and are so happy to be here.

Holiday Season

Now that the holidays are behind us we’re diligently focused on ski season. We had such a lovely holiday season, though it felt a little different this year.

The lead-up to Christmas felt so long this year. This is due, mostly, I think, to the wildly early start to winter. We’ve had snow covering the ground since November 3rd. It kick-started our winter and the anticipation of Christmas and the holiday season.

It felt weird to have a snow-covered ground and pumpkins and fall decor, but I just couldn’t bring myself to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving. We waited until the day after Thanksgiving to bring out all the holiday things. This is my absolute favorite time of the year, so, it was hard to not dive right in and start doing all the Christmas things right away.

New this year was our fake tree. Ack! I can hardly say it. Really, it was beautiful and it filled our space perfectly, but still, it’s not a real tree. Despite my disdain for fake trees, I am glad we did it, and dang it was nice not stringing the lights this year!

As December carried on, we filled our days with baking and eating cookies, skiing, ice skating, sledding, shoveling and drinking hot chocolate. We did SO much.

Ben finished up school mid-December, then recessed until after the new year. Alex had the same timeframe off of work, too, so we had two entire weeks off at home together. It was so special.

Amidst the fun was a whole lot of chaos as we were racing to the finish line to try to get the guesthouse done and ready for its first occupants: Alex’s parents! Trucks lined our driveway and the crew was in and out, working tirelessly to finish up the loose ends, get the cabinets finished up, install the last of the things and get the tile set in the bathroom.

The guys turned the guesthouse over to us, temporarily, on December 23rd and we scrambled to move in and get everything settled for Alex’s parents to arrive on Christmas day. There are still a few projects to complete, like the kitchen backsplash and finishing the railings in the stairway, but it’s livable now!

Some of our Christmas Eve traditions include making cinnamon rolls, making lasagna and reading The Night Before Christmas by the fire. This year we took the loveliest stroll via snowshoes – I hope to make that a Christmas Eve tradition.

The enthusiasm and anticipation of Christmas was so high among our eldest. Ben is truly like a real-live Buddy the Elf – he loves Christmas more than anyone I have ever met. Unsurprisingly, he was up at 4:48 on Christmas morning, eager to investigate and enjoy the day!

Christmas morning was delightful, despite the rain outside. We opened gifts, savored Alex’s cinnamon rolls {a new recipe this year!}, played together and FaceTimed with family across the country.

The delight waned when we received word that Alex’s family’s flight, originally scheduled for Christmas Day, had been canceled. We had been so excited for their arrival and it was such a disappointment that their trip was to be postponed several days.

While we awaited their delayed arrival the weather turned from rain to ice and we ultimately lost power. Always an adventure! We ended up camping out at home for several days while the roads crews literally chipped away at the ice. The mountain passes ended up being closed for days on end.

Finally, late in the week, Alex’s parents, sister and her family arrived! The kids instantly re-connected like no time had passed. They also couldn’t wait to tear into their Christmas gifts.

We had such a fun long weekend with everyone. We skied, sledded, ice skated, played together, rang in the new year and had such a lovely time.

After we said goodbye to Alex’s sister and her family we switched gears to getting back into the swing of things in the new year. The kids went back to school and Alex went back work. Alex’s parents are still here for the next few weeks and we’re getting into our new groove. And that’s a wrap!

2022 Recap… A Year in Review

This last year has been one of my absolute favorites. We are getting settled in our life in the mountains, we’re all making new friends, figuring out a balance and enjoying so much time together as a family. It helps that our kids are in such a golden age right now – they still like us, they like each other and they’re getting more independent and resilient and their stamina continues to grow.

Our 2022 kicked off with a massive snow dump. It was intense! We got somewhere around 55″ of snow in about 36 hours.

After we dug ourselves out of that snowstorm, it was as though Mother Nature was done with snow for the winter. She just gave it to us all at once, then not again until it all melted in April.

The huge snowstorm set us up for a very long ski season. I didn’t keep track of all of our ski days, but I had around 65 last year, the kids around 55.

I absolutely fell in love with skate skiing {a type of Nordic skiing where it’s like you’re skating on skis – you can get going quite fast and it is tremendous exercise!}.

Ben joined the Nordic ski team in our little community. He competed in his first ski race and just loved the fanfare and spectacle of the event.

Our base of snow eventually gave way to clear pavement and melted out trails in town and we started having dual-sport days – skiing and biking!

Much to my reluctance, Alex bought me a mountain bike for my birthday. I really thought I’d hate it – you know, flying down the hill making sharp turns, trying to avoid hitting a tree. I figured I’d be too anxious to enjoy it, but actually, I loved it. I have a tremendous amount to learn and so much practice to get under my belt!

Ben is also the proud new owner of a real-deal mountain bike with disc brakes, a suspension and a bunch of gears. It is so beautiful. He actually hated how it looked and refused to ride it. Our friend, Amanda, found these incredible rainbow bike graphics and gave them to Ben as a birthday gift. Now it’s perfect!

Early in the spring our little 3-year-old-at-the-time Hannah made up her mind that she was ready to ride a two-wheel pedal bike, so off she went!

The spring was dubbed “sprinter” {spring-winter} and was very cold – it just never seemed to warm up. Like ever.

We broke ground on our very own garden this spring! Alex set up irrigation and fencing, and together we prepared the soil. Hannah was my helper to plant all of the starts. The garden ended up being wildly successful and one of the coolest things I have ever done before. It brought so much joy to all of us to go and check what was growing and then harvest our bounty. Unsurprisingly, we learned a tremendous amount, too.

Summer eventually did come, though not until mid-to-late June. We had the busiest summer of all-time. It was ridiculous. Fun, but way, way too much. Memorial Day weekend was spent celebrating Ben’s 6th birthday in Winthrop, Washington.

We took our first family of four camping trip to San Juan Island in early June. Several families from Ben’s school were at the camping trip as well – it was so lovely. We loved taking the kids out to the Sound {Puget Sound} and letting them see a completely different environment than our mountain valley. Plus, the camping was a blast!

After Ben’s school year wrapped up, we squeezed in a week-long trip down to Bend, Oregon. A highlight was seeing Crater Lake. Ben was sick the whole time we were there {don’t worry, the rest of us got it eventually, too} and was just suuuuper low energy. We still made the most of it – we visited Mt Bachelor Ski Resort, The High Desert Museum, went kayaking, and at the very end, he had enough stamina to do a mountain bike ride.

Here and there, throughout the summer, we were able to fit in trips to the pool, a couple of camp sessions for Ben and a few trips to the farmers market.

Much of the summer was spent hosting visitors and taking regional trips here and there. We had the pleasure of seeing so many wonderful friends and getting to know their children.

Hannah’s fourth birthday was celebrated in Seabrook, Washington, a darling town on the Washington coast. She had her first-ever birthday party, complete with a watermelon theme. It was such a special time for her!

We put an end to our air travel hiatus and flew to Wisconsin to catch up with Alex’s family. We hadn’t seen our nephews for 2.5 years. It was such a special week together!

While we were in Wisconsin, Alex got to visit his grandmother, Nana. A month later she passed away. We all have so many memories and stories of Nana. What a special human she was.

Shortly after we returned from Wisconsin, I turned around and took the kids back to my hometown and family cabin in Minnesota for Labor Day weekend. We also got to see my BFF, Sarah, and one of her daughters. It was such a lovely end to the summer.

September arrived, and with it, the new school year. Ben transferred to the main public school in town, 30ish minutes away. Hannah returned to the nature preschool she attended last year – this year she’s going four days a week.

Along with the school year, the smoke arrived. There were multiple wildfires within 15-20 miles of our house and the smoke from the blazes infiltrated our valley. It was awful. Our air quality was horrendous nearly every day, and it lasted for more than two months.

We had to be very strategic about our outdoor outings during “smoke season.” We managed to escape the smoke a few times and went camping with some friends, we checked out a new state park and went on a family mountain bike ride and made it to the Chelan County Fair.

Mostly, though, our fall was spent indoors. We did a lot of baking, coloring, had lots of story time, and relaxed. We would have much preferred the air to have been fresh; however, we did appreciate the opportunity to catch up on some rest and focus on projects at home after our bonkers summer.

{Pantry overhaul!!}

The stars aligned for Alex and me one day to get the kids off to school and then make a bee-line for Colchuck Lake, which is located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. We didn’t have much time to make the nearly 9-mile hike to the lake, so we ran it. It was one of my favorite days of all-time. The run was the most challenging physical pursuit I’ve ever undertaken and the reward at the lake was absolutely worth it. And! Somehow, the air was clear and we made it back for pick-up!

By mid-October the weather pattern finally changed and the smoke dissipated. We jumped at the opportunity to get our house and yard ready for winter, we played in the leaves, went for hikes, spent time down by the river and tried to get in as much time outside as possible.

Little did we know, winter would be arriving at the very beginning of November! We were surprised to receive about 8-inches of snow in the first week. The temps stayed cold, and the snow never left. We have been Nordic skiing since the second week of November!

Our early start to winter has been a blast. The kids are loving the snow play and Alex and I are getting out to ski most days. I have a goal to ski 100 days this winter {Nordic and alpine combined}, and Ben’s ski team coach is pushing all the kids to try to ski 50 days this year. I think we can do it!

Throughout the year slow and steady progress has been made on our garage and guesthouse build. It was a mad dash to the finish line and it’s almost complete now. We have our first guests currently staying there, actually! It has been a very long process, which we have enjoyed, and we’re so excited to have a garage and guesthouse.

The holidays are my absolute favorite time of year. I relish in the nostalgia of going through our Christmas decorations, watching the kids delight as they trim the tree. I just love baking cookies and making gifts for friends and family, and it brings me so much joy opening holiday cards from friends and family around the world. I do keep our holiday cards and love looking back on them year-to-year.

As 2022 comes to a close, I am looking to 2023 with a calm smile. Of course none of us know what lies ahead, what challenges or opportunities will come down the pike. Wishing you all a 2023 filled with joy, good health, fun adventures and community.