Fall 2022

This should be a fairly short post since fall was about two weeks long this year!

We missed out on the best fall weather during smoke season, which was such a disappointment. If the smoke hadn’t been there, our fall would have been just spectacular. But, alas, towards the end of October, finally, the weather changed and blew out the smoke for good, and eventually dampened the fires.

The autumn colors we get are just striking. I live for the drives along the windy mountain roads, ooing and aahing at the clusters of ruby-red vine maples or the stands of chartreuse Aspens. The contrast of the changing leaves against the rocky mountainside or along the banks of the Wenatchee river are stunning.

We weren’t able to do many hikes this fall, given the short-nature of the season, but I got several walks along the river in town and a few hikes and runs at Ski Hill. Just enough to scratch the itch of enjoying the cool weather and the striking beauty of the autumn leaves.

It felt like we spent more time inside this fall than we have literally ever spent inside before. The kids adapted really well, and I was honestly nervous it was going to be hard to motivate them to go back outside when the smoke cleared. Thankfully that was not the case!

We had to squish all of our outdoor fall tasks into a matter of only a few weeks. Thankfully with some help from Alex’s dad, we made it! Our yard looks absolutely fantastic – Alex has really dialed it in.

We had a lovely visit with Alex’s parents, who were here basically for the 10 nice fall days we had this year!

One particularly smokey weekend we loaded up the car and headed two hours east to camp at Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park. It was so mild, the air was clear and we had a great time with our friends!

Another “escape the smoke” adventure took us to Squilchuck State Park, where we had an absolutely fantastic time mountain biking together.

We made the obligatory pilgrimage to a pumpkin patch. The kids had a blast.

Ben and Hannah had the best time getting into the Halloween spirit. Trick-or-treating was so much fun. More on that to come!

The day before fall ended the kids and I had an ice cream celebration in honor of us being fully-vaccinated! Hannah got her final Covid vaccine – woohoo! I got my booster {Ben already had his booster}, and we all got flu shots. We’re ready!

And now, winter is here! As far as I can tell, it might be here to stay!? We woke up to 8″ of snow yesterday and it is still coming down……..

Our Garden Project: 2022

This summer I was able to turn my years-long dream of having a garden into a reality. We bit off a *lot* this summer, and frankly I’m not sure how we pulled this project off in the midst of travel and visitors. We made it a priority and it ended up truly being one of the coolest things I’ve {we’ve?} ever done.

I did a blog post about the creation of the garden, along with a few snippets and previews mixed into other posts, but never a big update on how things went after they went into the ground.


Lessons learned/things for next year


-learn about diseases

-learned about when to harvest

-plant what we want to eat

-victory garden/homestead/mindfulness in planting to get appropriate yields

-more pumpkins!



Putting the garden to bed

Summer 2022 Recap

Now that we’re well into fall, I’ll close our our summer posts. Our summer was filled with making oodles and oodles of memories, but it was WAY too busy. We were playing catch-up from postponing travel during more serious Covid-times, and many of our friends had the same idea. We packed way too much into an already short summer.

Our summer travel started with our Memorial Day weekend trip to Winthrop to celebrate Ben’s birthday.

While Ben’s school year was winding down we went to San Juan Island for a family/school camping trip. This was our first camping trip as a family of four!

We managed to squeeze in a week in Bend, Oregon in late June. All of us ended up getting sick with a stomach bug either on the trip or upon our return. It really put a damper on the trip and what we were able to do; however, we still had a lot of wonderful moments and made it to Crater Lake National Park, did a mountain bike ride as a family and visited Mount Bachelor.

Swimming lessons took place for both kids whenever we could squeeze them in. Ben made tremendous progress and is swimming well independently. He is extremely comfortable in the water and absolutely loves to swim.

Hannah has, in her own way, also made amazing progress with her comfort in working towards being an independent swimmer. She is getting comfortable jumping in and getting her whole head wet, but when it comes to doing a back float or actually putting her face in she just didn’t get there this summer. We are continuing private swimming lessons this fall and winter.

Hannah’s school is year-round, so when we were in town she continued to attend school twice a week. I’m pretty sure her school days consisted of running through the sprinklers, eating ice pops and going for hikes. Kid paradise!

Ben signed up for two weeks of summer camp – one week was at Hannah’s school {flower camp} and the other was mountain bike camp in combination with an environmental/wilderness camp. He was living his best life while at camp!

Somehow, despite being completely over scheduled, we have managed to be pretty successful in our garden endeavor. We started with literally nothing – Alex built a four-zone irrigation system with drip lines in 12 garden beds, along with installing a fence. Ultimately, we harvested green beans, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon, 4 varieties of squash, pumpkins and sweet peppers. Our garden unexpectedly succumb to a surprise mid-September frost.

We had so many visitors this summer. It was so, so wonderful catching up with friends we hadn’t seen in several years. If only that guesthouse would get finished!

One of Alex’s best friends from high school moved to Western Washington late this spring and came to stay with us one weekend, along with his family.

Just after the school year wrapped up, our friends, The Millers, came and visited us from Colorado. Another family, The Buffingtons, came to take part in the reunion. We had so much fun catching up – The Millers and The Buffs were some of our best friends when we lived in Seattle. Fun fact – we took an annual trip to Leavenworth together for 8 consecutive years!

Alex’s parents spent two weeks with us in mid-July and were here to celebrate Hannah’s birthday. Donna returned in late-August to help watch the kids for me while I volunteered at an event for the farmers market.

In early-August two of my high school girlfriends, Kailey and Cammy, along with their families, came to spend a long weekend in Washington with us. They live in Minnesota and their kiddos hadn’t been to the mountains before. It was so fun showing them around and seeing all of the littles play together.

Alex’s good friend, Chris and his girlfriend, Veerle, came to visit us from the Netherlands. Alex and Chris were roommates during their internships in college and have maintained a wonderful friendship, despite the miles.

While the kids and I were in Minnesota, Alex’s good friend from high school, Kelly, and her family, including her two babes, came to visit from Bozeman. They were joined by another family, as well.

In addition to the craziness, another theme for the summer was really disappointing weather for our trips! We only had good weather on one trip {Minnesota} the entire summer, which of course complicates things when you’re hoping to be outside and active the whole time.

This was absolutely a summer to remember. We were bonkers busy, but we made oodles of memories. One of my biggest takeaways is to never schedule that much stuff again! 🙂 And now, onto fall, a season where we rest and I thank the parenting gods that Ben decided he did *not* want to sign up for soccer this fall.

Colchuck Lake Trail Run

This summer Alex caught the bug and is officially a trail runner – a very good one, in fact! He’s been venturing out on trail runs nearby with a local running group. It’s provided new friendships, adventures and a wonderful way to explore local trails. It turns out he loves to run – as long as it’s on a trail 😉

This newfound love has forged some new ideas for adventures together. We’re amassing quite a list of big runs to do. We started with a very steep run at Ski Hill this fall and then somewhat spontaneously ran to Colchuck Lake a few weeks ago.

Colchuck Lake is in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, just outside of Leavenworth, and is the gateway to The Enchantments. We had hoped to do the 20-mile hike through The Enchantments this summer but it didn’t work out with our schedules. We had a window of time recently and decided to go for a shorter adventure instead of the full thru-hike.

It was a smokey morning in Leavenworth and just as we rounded the corner toward the Alpine Lakes Wilderness the skies opened up. It was clear!!

We opted to run to Colchuck in lieu of hiking simply due to our limited amount of time. It’s just shy of 9-miles round trip with 2,500 feet of elevation gain, so a hike would have taken most of the day. Our run was 2 hours 55 minutes.

The scenery throughout the whole adventure was spectacular. The fall colors were in their splendor. The terrain was a lot rockier than we expected and it was surprisingly crowded for a Monday!

When we arrived at the lake I was in awe. It is truly a breathtaking sight.

We had so, so, so much fun. It was a highlight of the year for me, without a doubt. It was a very challenging run – probably the most difficult I’ve ever done.

We’ve got several more trail runs on our minds to help keep us active, busy and seeking adventures for the next several years.

Our proverbial village really showed up to help make this happen for us. Hannah’s teachers were cheering us on as we dropped her off, and our friend Lauren picked up Hannah early {her school closed early that day due to the smoke} from school and brought her out to lunch. Bri and Morgan were ready to meet Ben at Spanish and make sure he was set and ready to go! Thankfully we made even faster time than we had expected and didn’t run into any issues.

Here’s to the next big adventure!

Smoke Season

Just after we returned home from our trip to Minnesota, the kids started school and the dang smoke settled in. Unbeknownced to us at the time, it was here to stay.

After I dropped the kids off at their first day of school I went into town to run up Ski Hill. I got to the top and felt like I had exerted much more energy than normal, then looked across the valley and realized how bad the smoke was. I had no idea then that would have been one of my only runs at Ski Hill this fall because of the smoke.

{First day of school smoke – I’m jaded now and this looks clear! Hah!}
{Ski Hill one week later}

Our house is 25-minutes straight north of Leavenworth, and just 14-miles northwest of us were two significant fires {eventually they merged into one}. These two fires began in early August, then a couple more ignited nearby as summer turned into fall. We live near the top of the valley and the smoke just funneled down the valley and clung to it. For some reason, the town of Leavenworth seems to almost be in a little bit of a bubble. The air is almost never anywhere near as bad there as it is up valley at our house.

{We’re near the “464” dot}

It has honestly been miserable living through this poor air quality. Our air has been “hazardous” and “very unhealthy” almost every day {maybe truly every day?} since Labor Day. Ben has had indoor recess for weeks on end, and Hannah’s outdoor forest school had to close early most days for several weeks at worst, and at best the kids were crammed inside their small classroom.

{This was a view of the worst air quality we endured. We can hardly see the ridge 1/2 mile away from us.}

We have absolutely begun to adapt to this literal season. We’ve brought back our N95 masks, gotten accustom to checking the air quality 150 times a day. We bought a treadmill so we can still exercise inside {this will be nice for winter too}. A few times we’ve ventured outside of the valley or sought clean air elsewhere so we can still enjoy the outdoors.

Thankfully for the last couple of weeks the smoke has cleared out by mid to late afternoon, which means some days when we get home from school the kids can play outside. There was one day last week where they both got to be outside at school, finally!

Living on the west coast we’ve been familiar with a version of smoke season for several years now, as we’ve gotten smoke from Canada and California, as well as other neighboring states, but it’s nothing like living in such close proximity to major fires. We are counting down the days to Friday, when the rain is forecast to begin. I can only hope it puts out the fires quickly and ends our smoke season.

{This photo was taken on Sunday October 16 just down the block from our house, facing north east and looking at the plume of smoke from the White River/Irving Peak fire. The winds shifted and cleared our air for the afternoon!}

Minnesota Trip

For one last summer trip I took the kids to Minnesota to visit my family over Labor Day weekend. We really squeezed it in and made the most of it. Alex wasn’t able to join us, as he took way too much time off for our crazy summer of travel and needed to catch up on life.

I was really glad we had taken a recent flight so that everything would be fresh in our memory on how to have a smooth travel day. Ben and Hannah are travel pros! Everything went about as well as it possibly could have. Still, it was a very long day. The 2.5 hour drive to the airport really adds a lot.

For our first few days in Minnesota we stayed with my mom in the town I grew up in.

Hannah had never been to Minnesota before {aside from in utero!}, and Ben wasn’t even 1.5 yet when he was there last. We had a lot of time to make up for!

We had such a special time catching up with my best friend, Sarah, and one of her daughters, who was due within a day of Ben! It had been since pre-pandemic that I had seen her, so the reunion was long overdue.

{Proof of mom! Thanks for the picture Hannah!}

I took Ben and Hannah to the beach just down the street from my mom’s house. I spent my summers in high school lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons there. We bumped into the kiddos of one of my other girlfriends from high school – they had just been out to see us a few weeks before, so the kids had a blast reconnecting.

The weather during our whole trip to Minnesota honestly couldn’t have been better. Our whole summer filled with travel was also filled with terrible weather, but not on our Minnesota trip! It was just perfect.

I got to catch up with another girlfriend from high school and my aunt, who hadn’t met Hannah yet, and just return to my old stomping grounds, which brought back so many memories.

Halfway through our trip my dad picked us up and we drove to central Minnesota to his cabin. I was hit with overwhelming nostalgia upon our arrival.

The cabin is now in its third generation of owners {my dad and one of his sisters} and was built by my great-grandfather. I grew up spending much of my summers there, running around with my cousins, tubing behind the boat, shucking husks of corn and sunbathing in my favorite chair with my watermelon towel.

The cabin has weathered several very harsh years as level of the water in the lake has dramatically increased, putting it and other structures on the lake, in peril. My dad and brother came to the rescue and ultimately saved the cabin and it’s truly never looked better than it does now.

Ben and Hannah made all the memories up at “Grandpa Fred’s Cabin” and had such a special time.

They were obsessed with jumping off the dock {a huge thanks to my dad for bearing with their incessant requests to go swimming!}.

My brother was able to spend the whole time up at the cabin with us, too, which is always a treat. Ben and Hannah adore their uncle and really enjoyed spending so much time with him.

I knew it was going to be exhausting for me to take the kids by myself to Minnesota, and it was, but it was also really special and I’m really happy we were able to make it happen. I love that they have the trip so fresh in their memories, and I hope we’re able to make another summer trip back soon.

Trip to Wisconsin

Finally, after nearly two and a half years, we were able to reconnect in person with Alex’s sister, our brother in-law and our nephews. This was our first time together, along with Alex’s parents, since just before Covid. We met together at Alex’s parents’ lake home in southern Wisconsin and had such a special week catching up and making up for lost time.

This was our first air travel trip in nearly three years – our last trip was to Wisconsin in 2019! We really weren’t sure what to expect since it had been so long since we’d flown with the kids. Additionally, we’d never traveled by plane since we moved to Leavenworth. Now, any airplane trip begins with a mandatory 2.5 hour drive to the airport. Makes for a very long day!

Despite dealing with a bunch of delays, the travel day was surprisingly smooth, but very, very long. Ben has become a pro traveler and was legitimately helpful and just did his own thing, and Hannah tolerates travel about like she tolerates everything else – sometimes with grace and patience, and other times, not so much.

This trip was absolutely a highlight for us all this summer. We hadn’t seen our nephew, Marco, since he was 6 months old, and he had just turned three right before our trip.We’re so, so grateful for technology that allows us to stay connected from afar.

Being a native Minnesotan, I am well-versed on Midwestern lake culture, but my children are not! They got to take part in jumping off the boat in the middle of a lake, Ben took a spin on the wave runner {and hated it!} and they both got to try fishing.

We had a few really lovely boat rides, a few really chilly boat rides, and an extra special boat picnic one day. I think the official food of the week was Sun Chips.

We spent quite a lot of time at the pool, which is a part of the complex that Alex’s parents condo is within.

Ben and Hannah had the best time playing with their cousins, who are 5.5 and 3. They played so, so well together and it was extremely special.

Another new experience for Ben and Hannah was going fishing! Nico and Ben both caught a fish.

During our trip, Alex was able to see his grandmother, “Nana,” one final time. She has since passed away. It was a really special visit and Alex enjoyed showing Nana pictures of Ben and Hannah and sharing stories and memories with her. I’m so, so glad they had that time together. Nana was such a special person and I will always carry memories of her in my heart.

One evening, Alex and I went out for dinner with Alina and Alberto while the grandparents had a little party with the kiddos. We went to Lake Geneva, which is nearby. We deemed Lake Geneva “the Las Vegas of Wisconsin” which felt quite apt. It has become quite the party town.

Alberto, our brother-in law, was born and raised in Italy. He is an excellent chef and baker and we always love indulging in his Italian {and non-Italian} specialties. This trip brought us lasagna, pizza and a special birthday celebration cake his mother always made.

Continuing the theme of our summer trips, the weather was not exactly ideal. We had one sunny, warm day, but the rest were windy and chilly. Keep in mind, we do have a different perspective on “chilly” as we’re used to our daytime summer highs being around 95-105. In any case, the weather left a lot to be desired for our lake trip. Of course we were able to pivot and have a great time nonetheless.

The trip was so, so special and will hold a very special place in my memory. We can’t wait to get together with this crew again!

Trip to Seabrook, WA

This year we splurged and took the kids on a trip for each of their birthdays. Hannah’s birthday trip was to Seabrook, which is a little town on the Washington coast.

We had been to Seabrook when Ben was 13-months old, so it was really special coming back again, and this time with Hannah, as well as Alex’s parents.

Seabrook is unbelievably charming. The town is completely manufactured to be darling and just oozes with coastal character. The town is set up on a bluff overlooking an endless beach. It truly looks like it goes on forever.

The weather leaves much to be desired, though. We had one gorgeous full day while we were there, otherwise it was mostly cloudy, foggy and it felt just plain cold.

We spent a lot of time down on the beach. Despite the fog and chilly temperatures, the kids built a monumental sand castle and loved crashing into the waves or trying out a skim board.

One of the days we drove up the coast into Olympic National Park. It was perfect beach weather that day and we spent a few hours at Beach #4 on the coast.

The kids loved climbing the rock walls, building sand castles, checking out the tide pools and exploring a new beach.

We made a quick stop for a very short hike in the Quinault Rainforest and visited the world’s largest spruce tree.

Hannah’s birthday was in the middle of our trip. We celebrated her with a big strawberry cake, a new doll and lots of beach time. Coincidentally, there was a huge celebration going on in Seabrook, so Hannah enjoyed getting her face painted, eating kettle corn and jumping in the bouncy house. Perfect for a four-year old!

Brooks seemed quite happy to tag along on the trip! He experienced salt water and a big beach for the first time, and was delighted to do so.

All in all, we had a lovely time exploring the town of Seabrook. It is so charming. If I had the guarantee of good weather, I would definitely go back!

Hannah is FOUR!

Back in July we celebrated Hannah’s fourth birthday! We took her to the beach for a big birthday trip and she had the best time. It was so fun celebrating our girl!

Hannah’s four year stats:

  • Weight: 38 pounds
  • Height: 41″
  • Clothing 4/5
  • Shoe size: toddler size 9
  • 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 dollhouse, watching her Kindle, playing with her little ones, reading books, running, dancing, riding her bike, painting
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, stopping doing something fun, leaving somewhere, not getting what she wants

It was funny to read back on my post “Hannah is three” because I could literally copy and paste it to “Hannah is four” – this girl is fiercely herself. Certainly she’s grown up a bit since she turned three, but she’s still that same girl she’s always been. Hannah has always been so confident – she knows what she wants and she knows when she’s ready to do something.

This spring, Hannah was extremely insistent she wanted to learn to ride her two-wheel pedal bike. We really were not quite ready to go there, but because she was so determined we gave it a shot. Literally 20 minutes after she got stung by a bee she wanted to try riding her pedal bike. I sure wasn’t going to say no, and thank goodness I didn’t, because she figured it out right away! As she always does, she knew she was ready.

One big thing we’ve noticed is that Hannah is really coming out of her shell around other people. We really credit this to her experience going to school this year. She sure knows when she is ready to warm up to new people or a new situation, and she seems to be a great judge of character.

Being a little one at the start of the pandemic sure has brought challenges for most kiddos, but finally, now that Hannah is in school she is making her own friends. It warms our hearts hearing her talk about school and her friends and her teachers. We just love that she has her own life outside our family.

Hannah has such a natural maternal instinct. It is so sweet to watch her “make a family” out of four of any objects {but they have to be the same or within the same genre} and she will take care of them as though she’s the mama. The family is always mommy, daddy, Ben and Hannah. She just loves her baby dolls, too.

The relationship between Ben and Hannah has grown tremendously in the last year or so. They are the very best of friends.

Hannah is very quick to lose her temper, and heaven help you if you get caught in her wrath. Have I mentioned this girl is fierce? We’re continuing to work with Hannah to use kind words and for strategies on how to chill out. Sometimes it works!

Gosh this girl is such a light in our lives. We just adore her. She is growing into quite the little lady.

Hannah’s Fourth Birthday

We had so much fun celebrating Hannah’s birthday this year. I’m quite late in reporting about her birthday, as it was already two months ago! It was extra special because she has never had a birthday party before. Hannah’s birthday celebration turned into a week of festivities honoring her fourth birthday.

{This girl has always known what she wants. She saw someone with an open cup + whipped cream, and from that moment on, she only orders her milk with whipped cream and no lid.}

We kicked off her birthday week with a special mama-Hannah trip to the salon for her first official haircut and mani/pedi. Hannah felt SO special – Jenn, our stylist, went above and beyond to make sure Hannah was pampered to the nines.

Because our girl loves watermelon we chose it as the theme for her birthday party! I found everything watermelon and we met some friends down at a beach along the river. It was perfect!

Several of Hannah’s classmates from school were able to join us, along with some of our other family friends. It was a gorgeous day and she had so much fun!

Despite the watermelon theme, Hannah requested strawberry cupcakes. I found a wonderful recipe and they were amazingly delicious!

For Hannah’s actual birthday we took a trip to Seabrook, which is on the Washington coast. It’s a very charming town right on the ocean. The beach is absolutely massive.

Hannah is a little beach babe – she just loves playing in the sand. She can spend hours and hours creating things or just scooping sand into buckets. This was the perfect place for her birthday this year.

For a few years now Hannah has loved playing with babies. This year for her birthday she got a new Wellie Wishers doll named Camille. Wellie Wishers is a line within American Girl Dolls and you can get all kinds of accessories for these dolls. Hannah has spent hours and hours playing with her new doll and all that goes along with her.

It was so fun celebrating our sweet girl turning four. She is so much fun and such a delight and we just loved having a special week for her.