Tag Archives: Leavenworth

Sixth Annual Octoberfest Trip

Our sixth annual Octoberfest trip has now come and gone. This is a trip that Alex and I look forward to all year long. We take off for a weekend in the mountains outside of Leavenworth with several other families. We relax, drink wine, play adult board games, eat sausage and sauerbraten and enjoy our time in the mountains. This year was extra special because our little ones are all so close in age and they were playing together and were more on the same level now that they’re a bit older than last year.

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Altogether this year there were 8 adults, 5 toddlers and 3 dogs. The tots range in age from 16 months {Ben} to 22 months {August and Oliver}, with Roslyn at 17 months and Liam at 20 months. It’s pretty remarkable that all of our kids are so close in age. The adults in the group are Ryan and Mary, parents of August and Oliver; Dave and Trish, parents of Liam; and Carrie and Patrick, parents of Roslyn.

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The weather this year, like many other years, couldn’t have been more perfect. It was very crisp and clear and made our trip that much better.

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We kicked off the weekend by heading into the town of Leavenworth on Saturday morning for a stroll, some coffee and gingerbread cookies and, of course, sausage. Ben loved the parade that rolled through town and kept neighing at the horses. It was pretty cute!

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On Sunday morning the guys ventured off on their own to take advantage of their Father’s Day gifts — a fly fishing lesson! It sounds like they really enjoyed learning how to fish and I know at least one of them intends on returning and giving it another try.

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While the dads were off fishing the moms packed up the littles and drove to Lake Wenatchee State Park, a few miles up the road. We were most interested in the playground but ended up being captivated by the beach and the breathtaking views that we hardly spent any time on the jungle gym with the kids. Our trip, though, was pretty short lived, as it was extremely windy and very chilly.

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I think we all were really pleasantly surprised about a lot with the kids – they all got along really well and there weren’t any issues and the chaos was extremely minimal. Another big surprise was that they all went to sleep in the evenings very well which allowed for some adult time. The nap times for the kids were sort of well organized, too.

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It was so fun to see the kids playing together and having the opportunity for all of us to engage with the other tots and really get to know them a little better. All of our schedules are so busy and we don’t get together nearly as often as we used to or would like to. These weekends are extra special now that we’ve got kiddos.

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This year we stayed in a different house for Octoberfest than we had in the past. We stayed in the same house that our family rented for Ben’s birthday back in May. Conveniently, this house is located literally right next door to our piece of property. It was really fun being so close to our lot so we could walk over there and check out the view. Alex and I cannot wait to wake up to that!!

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Before heading back to Seattle on Monday, Alex and I, along with the Millers, stopped at Lake Wenatchee State Park. Alex was bummed he missed out on going the day before while he was fishing and wanted to enjoy the view. Luckily for us all, the wind was still and the weather was perfect.

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I’m pretty impressed with our group that we are still taking our annual trip to Leavenworth together. These trips have really changed over the years – it was so fun to look back on photos from last year’s Octoberfest trip, which was the first one where we all had kiddos! If you’re curious – here is the evolution of our trips {I hadn’t started our blog quite yet for our first annual trip}:

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Holy cats! August is shaping up to be NUTS for us. We have SO much going on this month it’s going to be hard to keep up! I even started writing in our calendar who is taking which car on what days so that we can manage everything right down to the nitty gritty details.

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We started off the month by buying a piece of land over in Leavenworth, a quaint mountain town about 2 hours from Seattle that we spend a lot of time visiting. We’ve been looking for a vacation home in the mountains to share with Alex’s parents for more than a year and recently decided to change course and build a house.

{The view from our new property!}

{The view from our new property that overlooks a field with a giant rock wall and mountains in the background.}

{This is where we expect the house to go.}

{This is where we expect the house to go.}

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We’re elated to have found a beautiful, flat 3.1 acre property to call our own! We expect to close at the end of the month and will likely start building next summer. We had hoped to break ground this fall if possible, but it seems like holding off until next year makes more sense. We don’t want to rush into it too much. That means, though, that we might be spending Christmas 2018 in our new mountain house! More on this to come later, I’m sure.

{Holding up his computer after signing the offer we made on the lot! We were so excited!}

{Holding up his computer after signing the offer we made on the lot! We were so excited!}

In other news, lately Alex has been suggesting that we should get Ben some more socialization with other kids during the day. While he gets out to the playground most days and story time at least once a week and a play date most weeks he doesn’t have the same social experiences that he would have if he went to daycare.

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I’ve got no qualms about daycare, it simply works better for our schedules to have the flexibility of a nanny. So, after scouring the Internet and polling some of my mama friends, we have enrolled Ben in a preschool co-op that starts in September. This preschool has “classes” for one year olds where it’s basically unstructured play time together {they have more formal classes for 2, 3 and 4-year olds). The class meets twice a week for 90 minutes each day. Not too big of a commitment. I’m really looking forward to starting – because it’s a co-op, all families have to get involved to help run the school, so I’m excited to meet other parents in the area and get Ben some time with other kids. Buuttttt that also means that each family has a “job” {I’m the designated “worker” in our family} sooooo you’re looking at either the new Halloween party planner, spring picnic party planner or sunshine chair!

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Another child care note worth mentioning is that our nanny has left us for a three week trip. We’ve got backup care scheduled, but you never know how that will turn out. I have a feeling it’ll be a mama + Ben month.

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Nearly a year ago, now, we started going to our parents group, called PEPS {Program for Early Parent Support}, which met once a week for 12 weeks. We built a really nice community with other families close by who have babies the same age as Ben. The PEPS organization asked if I’d be interested in facilitating a new group and because we didn’t have enough going on, I said yes! Despite our crazy schedules I’m really, really looking forward to leading a PEPS group, which starts in a couple weeks. It will be one evening per week where I get to facilitate a meeting between 8 families with newborns. It will be so fun to think back to those crazy days with a newborn!

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Alex has two bachelor parties to attend this month – one in Whistler and one down in Portland. So, it’s really going to be a mama + Ben month!

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The weather has been hot, hot, hot lately. We’ve had this really weird smog clouding the region the last 10 days from wildfires up in British Columbia. I heard that our air quality right now is worse than Beijing! We can’t hardly see across the lake and you can literally see the smoke clinging to sights off in the distance. It’s really strange. That being said, I haven’t gone for any runs in the last week and Alex hasn’t ridden his bike, so we’re ready for the heat wave to break and the smoke to clear! I’m ready for fall!

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Fourth of July Weekend

Much to my surprise we had a four day weekend at home together. I had no idea Alex had Monday off until late last week. After having a few busy weekends in a row it was nice to have a low-key weekend just the three of us. The icing on the cake was the weather – it was basically perfect all weekend long.

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My weekend kicked off a day early – Ben and I had a really fun Friday hanging out in Madison Park, the neighborhood just north of us. It has a much bigger downtown than our neighborhood and it’s got a great beach and a really nice park. Ben and I started at the beach, stopped at the swings and then grabbed a bite to eat at the deli.

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Not surprisingly, Ben loved the beach! He loved playing in the sand and sitting in the water, feeling the waves crash on his little legs. He was all smiles! 🙂

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We had a laid-back day on Saturday and somehow Alex and I managed to make it to yoga at the gym. It was so nice to start the weekend with a relaxing yoga class! Alex took Ben to the pool afterwards, too, so they had some fun in the water together.

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Lately we have been loving taking Ben up to the park in our neighborhood and setting out the picnic blanket and just hanging out. He has been practicing standing on his own and for some reason seems to be more comfortable in the grass. While we were at the park over the weekend he stood up from a seated position all on his own without holding onto anything! Since then we’ve seen him do it several more times but it seems like he’s still realizing that he can do it.

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Since I had so much fun taking Ben to the beach on Friday we decided go together over the weekend too. Ben was practicing standing on the picnic blanket at the beach too and is really getting the hang of it. He had so much fun!

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We made an impromptu trip over the mountains to Leavenworth on Monday. It was super spontaneous and last minute and we had a great time. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky which made for a spectacular drive over the mountain pass. We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful state!

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One of our favorite things to do with Ben is to share foods that we love with him. Thankfully he has similar tastes to us so usually he enjoys them. While we were in Leavenworth we stopped at one of our favorite sausage shops and got some sausages and a pretzel. Since it was 90 degrees and a fun, bonus day we treated ourselves to some gelato before we made the drive back home.

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All weekend long we had been looking forward to our plans for the fourth – we headed up to our friends’ Carrie and Patrick’s new house on Camano Island. Camano Island is located a little over an hour northwest of Seattle and is an island, connected by a bridge, out in Puget Sound. Carrie and Patrick moved into their new house two weeks ago and we couldn’t wait to see their new place.

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Our friends Ryan and Mary joined us up north with their 19 month-old twin boys, August and Oliver, and Carrie and Patrick have a 14 month-old daughter named Roslyn. It was so fun to have all four babies together for the day. We loved Carrie and Patrick’s new house and hope to spend a lot of time up there with all of our kiddos.

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It was sad to see such a nice long weekend come to an end, but we’ve got a short work week and another weekend at home coming up. I love July – it seems like such a nice, relaxing family month. This year anyway!

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Ben’s First Birthday Celebration

To celebrate Ben’s first birthday, his grandparents and great grandma joined us for a long weekend in the mountains. We rented a big house in Leavenworth and spent the whole weekend spoiling little Ben. It was the perfect way to celebrate our little boy’s first birthday.

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Our families flew in from the Midwest then we drove about 2.5 hours through the Cascade Mountains to Leavenworth where we set up shop for Memorial Day weekend. Our trip was really low-key and we spent most of it hanging out at our home base.

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My dad surprised us with some fun outdoor toys like this blob bed and a hammock. We had fun testing them out and relaxing in our new outdoor toys.

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The house we stayed at was awesome. It had a great layout, expansive property and exceptional view. We really didn’t need to leave!

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Jackson was in doggie paradise the whole weekend. He is a country dog at heart and loves to roam around off leash. In all honesty he behaves better off leash than on.

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There was a family fire safety event taking place at the fire station, two blocks away, so we took a short stroll over there to check it out. Ben got fitted for a bike helmet {to wear in a bike trailer attached to Alex’s bike} and he got to sit in a fire engine!

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One afternoon we headed into downtown Leavenworth for lunch and a little meandering. We ate at our favorite spot for sausages and did an olive oil/balsamic vinegar tasting. Ben loves sausage and had a great time pairing the sausage with the giant pretzel we got to share.

 

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Saturday evening we had Ben’s birthday celebration. We had my dad’s famous burgers and potato salad, followed by a Bavarian black forest cake for dessert. Ben was hanging on by a thread through dinner and managed to hold it together while eating the burger and potato salad. By the time we brought out his cake, though, he was done…

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Oh well! We tried again the next day when he wasn’t quite so tired and he loved it.

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We had a fantastic weekend with our families and are so grateful that they were able to make the trip out here to celebrate Ben’s birthday with us. It was a really special weekend.

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Fifth Annual Leavenworth Trip

One of Alex and my favorite weekends all year is our annual trip to Leavenworth with some of our friends. Each year our trip looks a little different – typically we perfect something we learned the year before. This year’s trip wins for the most changes from last year — babies and a new house to stay in. Before I start, holy cow, it took me 5 hours to pack up the car by myself. It is a whole new life trying to leave town with an infant. Especially one who was adamant that he be carried around all day {and yes, I did put him in the carrier, but that only made it slightly easier to load the car…}.

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This year’s house was the best one yet! The property was fabulous – it had two acres of fenced in yard — perfect for the dogs to run around in. There was a hot tub, several sitting areas and a great fire pit, which we enjoyed making s’mores in.

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Our group of adults was a little smaller this year, but we nearly doubled our group with the addition of four babies – Mary and Ryan and their 10-month old twin boys, August and Oliver, along with Carrie and Patrick and their 5-month old girl, Roslyn, joined us for our trip. Sadly we didn’t get any group photos with all of us!

{The Buffs!}

{The Buffs!}

{The Millers!}

{The Millers!}

This year we also added another day onto the trip – we opted to head back to Seattle on Monday. It has always felt a little rushed to get up there Friday afternoon or evening and then pack up and leave early Sunday morning. It was so much more relaxing to have an extra day.

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The babies all did really well. Oliver and August are on the move now and Roslyn and Ben hung out on the mat together a little bit. It was so fun to see the boys eating real food and be able to entertain themselves. It’s not too long before Ben starts doing that!

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{Me with Roslyn}

{Me with Roslyn}

{Could I pass for a twin mom!? Definitely not one with as much grace as these boys' mama!}

{Could I pass for a twin mom!? Definitely not one with as much grace as these boys’ mama!}

{Ryan is a pro!}

{Ryan is a pro!}

{Ben and Roslyn hanging out on the mat together.}

{Ben and Roslyn hanging out on the mat together.}

Our weekend was really low-key. We hung out at the house on Friday night and then attempted to head to town on Saturday. Once we entered downtown Leavenworth we realized there was a parade and it turned out to be even busier than the Octoberfest weekends. We planned our trip for September to try and avoid the Octoberfest crowds throughout the month of October. Oops!

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No worries, though – Patrick came up with a backup plan to go to the Sleeping Lady, which is a little resort that Alex and I have stayed at a couple times. We had a wonderful lunch there and took a little tour of the grounds.

{A bottle for mama and a bottle for Ben!}

{A bottle for mama and a bottle for Ben!}

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Mary made Sauerbraten, our staple Octoberfest meal, for dinner on Saturday night. We were able to enjoy our evenings relatively kid-free, which was great. All of the babies cooperated pretty well and allowed us to have some adult time.

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Because of Carrie’s new job {she’s a nurse now!!}, the Buff’s couldn’t stay on Sunday night and had to head back home that morning. Her new schedule is actually really great and allows for her to have weekends free, she just needs to be back on Sunday night. Later that day, the Millers headed into Leavenworth with us, as we figured the crowds would have gone home after the big parade the day before. We had some sausages, pretzels and did a little shopping and wine tasting before retreating back to our little mountain home.

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Our plan for Sunday night was a pizza, PJs and movie party night but only the pizza and PJs ended up happening. We opted for a fire and s’mores plus a dip in the hot tub instead!

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The last day of our weekends is always a sad and chaotic one. It was SO nice to have had the extra day added onto our trip. It made that 5 hour packing session on Friday that much more worthwhile. We are already counting down until our next Leavenworth trip!

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Relaxing Weekend in Leavenworth

For a lot of occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and Christmases Alex and I opt to get each other “experiences” rather than something tangible. For us, the time together is more meaningful. This year my Christmas gift to Alex was a weekend away in Leavenworth, Washington at the Sleeping Lady Resort.

{This is the rock pool at the resort! Really neat concept. It was really foggy and overcast for our stay, so I didn't get any good pictures, due to the lighting.}

{This is the rock pool at the resort! Really neat concept. It was really foggy and overcast for our stay, so I didn’t get any good pictures, due to the lighting.}

We cashed in on Alex’s gift as soon as we could after Christmas and headed out there this past weekend. Both of us had been to the Sleeping Lady Resort before, which is why it was so appealing to go back. The resort is really unique – the owner turned it from a camp into a high-class resort in the mountains.

Each “room” is essentially its own cabin and there are different clusters of cabins strewn across the property. They all have very modern amenities and are very, very comfortable with nice linens and robes and the like. We were once again very pleased with the accommodations. One of the special perks is that the resort has a huge dining lodge where they offer a gourmet breakfast and dinner buffet that is included with your stay. We felt like we were eating like kings all weekend!

{This is the style of the buildings/cabins on the property.}

{This is the style of the buildings/cabins on the property.}

So – about the trip now… we arrived around dinner time on Friday night, got checked into our room and then headed straight for the dining lodge. Because it’s a buffet, we were able to pace ourselves how we wanted and ended up having a wonderfully slow and leisurely dinner.

When we awoke the next morning it was snowing! After our relaxing breakfast we took a nice stroll around the resort property. Neither one of us had been to the Sleeping Lady when it was particularly light out, so we hadn’t gotten the chance to do much exploring.

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The rest of our morning and early afternoon was spent in downtown Leavenworth where we popped into some shops and had a delicious sausage at our favorite place, Munchen Haus. We needed to fuel up for our afternoon of cross country skiing!

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Alex had never been cross country skiing and I had only been once, but not since I was in 5th grade – so about 20 years ago! We rented our gear from the Mercantile shop at our resort and walked across the street to the public cross country ski trail {couldn’t have been more convenient!} and after watching a quick YouTube video titled “How to Cross Country Ski” we set out for our excursion.

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Our afternoon of cross country skiing turned out to be the highlight of our trip. We had been talking for a couple years about getting into nordic skiing but just never bit the bullet. Now with our little babe on the way we figure that once s/he arrives, it will be much easier for us to strap the kid into a backpack and go cross country skiing, rather than having to trade off who stays in the lodge with the baby while the other one of us downhill skis by him/herself. Plus, it is absolutely fantastic exercise! Both of us are sore in places we’ve never been sore before. We’re hoping to convince one of my cousins to come out with us and give us a few pointers so we can master the skating part of nordic skiing, rather than just the scooting part 😉

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The rest of our Saturday was spent sitting in front of a great outdoor fire at O’Grady’s Pantry {a little restaurant on the Sleeping Lady property}, napping and enjoying another slow-paced dinner at the resort. Both of us were ready to tuck into bed early that night!

{The hot tub was built into the rocks!}

{The hot tub was built into the rocks!}

Our stay at the Sleeping Lady included ski passes at Stevens Pass, so on our way back home to Seattle on Sunday we stopped at the ski resort to get some downhill turns in. With the Seahawks/Vikings playoff game on Sunday both of us expected the resort to be completely empty – we were grossly mistaken! It was an absolute zoo! This was the starting weekend of the ski lesson program, so we’re guessing that was the culprit. In addition to the crowds, it was really foggy and there was almost no visibility and the conditions were less than ideal. Needless to say, we took a few runs and continued home… It was a little disappointing, but it wasn’t the best day to be skiing.

All in all, we had a fabulous weekend away! Alex and I have been so enjoying the quality time we’ve been spending together lately. I hope we’re able to take a few more little trips before our little one arrives soon!

Fourth Annual Leavenworth Octoberfest Weekend

We’ve got another Leavenworth Octoberfest weekend in the books! This marks our fourth consecutive year making the pilgrimage to Leavenworth, Washington with three other couples to enjoy a relaxing getaway in the mountains.

{the drive through the Cascade mountains at this time of year is spectacular!}

{the drive through the Cascade mountains at this time of year is spectacular!}

We all arrived late afternoon/early evening on Friday and spent the evening playing games, chatting and eating! Our trip this year was with the same group as last year. This was also our third year in a row staying at the same vacation rental home – it’s a great setup for us with four bedrooms and a great fenced in backyard for the dogs.

{the girls... Mary, Ali, Carrie and Trish! all 3 other girls are pregnant right now, so our group is majorly growing!}

{the girls… Mary, Ali, Carrie and Trish! all 3 other girls are pregnant right now, so our group is majorly growing!}

Friday was my day to prepare a meal – in keeping in line with the German/Octoberfest theme, I made beer and brown sugar brats with sauerkraut, German potato salad, a regular salad a beer cheese spread. Our group is full of excellent cooks, so it goes without saying that we ate very well all weekend!

{enjoying some time together at our rental house}

{enjoying some time together at our rental house}

Saturday was our full day together and it also happened to be Ryan’s 35th birthday! We had a really nice time celebrating his birthday in Leavenworth and then at the house as well. The weather was great, too, so we were able to be outside the whole afternoon.

{the birthday boy with his bride}

{the birthday boy with his bride}

One of my favorite parts of our weekend is when we actually go into the town of Leavenworth. Leavenworth is a small town in the Cascade mountains that was built with Bavarian style architecture. Each October they host a huge month-long Octoberfest. We learned the first year not to go to the organized event, but instead to simply come into the town and hang out. We typically post up in one of the outdoor beer/sausage gardens and the boys order a stein of beer and we all get sausages for lunch. Typically we split up and the boys keep drinking beer while the girls shop, do wine tasting or visit the art fair. We’ve gotten to know the town quite well and have a good system down.

{Cheers!}

{Cheers!}

{we did some fun photo shoots - the scenery was too gorgeous not to!}

{we did some fun photo shoots – the scenery was too gorgeous not to!}

{dave with trish who is rocking her baby bump! :) }

{dave with trish who is rocking her baby bump! 🙂 }

{photo op in Leavenworth!}

{photo op in Leavenworth!}

Upon arriving back at our vacation home we realized there had been a power outage! We were less than prepared to deal with that. With our fingers crossed for a quick fix, we dug around and found some candles and then realized that the house’s well was powered by an electric pump, so not only were we without electricity, we were without water, too. That ended up being a much bigger bummer than the electricity. There had been a big windstorm up in the mountains and power and cell service to AT&T was knocked out through the entire valley.

The quick fix to the power that we had hoped for did not happen – that it made it really tricky to cook the sauerbraten for dinner. This is a finicky meal that Mary and Ryan began preparing three or four days earlier. It needed to cook on Saturday night for four hours, but we were sans oven. Eventually we fired up the grill and stuck the dutch oven in there and it did the trick! The power stayed out for the entire night and didn’t come back on until the next morning, so it was a little interesting, but we survived just fine.

{thank goodness for the built-in flashlight feature in the iPhone! this came in SO handy}

{thank goodness for the built-in flashlight feature in the iPhone! this came in SO handy}

It was actually kind of fun to not have power. We huddled around the “candle” table in the living room and Mary kicked off a game of “Table Topics” where she went around in a circle and asked each person a different question from a deck of prescribed cards. While we all know each other really well, it absolutely made us learn more about everyone – like that Patrick had a rat tail when he was a kid! We made some great memories during this trip!

When we woke up on Sunday morning it was an absolutely spectacular day. Since the power came back on we were able to do dishes and clean up from dinner the night before. We all congregated in the kitchen and hung out before breakfast. While some folks watched the Seahawks game, Alex and I took the opportunity to enjoy the hot tub and gorgeous view of the mountains.

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And just like that, our fourth annual Leavenworth Octoberfest trip is over. I have to say I’m already looking forward to seeing how dramatically different next year’s will be with a bunch of babies!

Our Christmas Vacation

The theme of this holiday season for Alex and me has been family, friends and new traditions. While we still have a few more days left of the season, I’d say our Christmas surpassed my wildest expectations of new traditions and time with family.

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We just returned home from our Christmas vacation in Leavenworth, Washington with both of our parents and Alina and Alberto. We spent five days in the mountains, as well as a day on either side in Seattle. I found a cabin for us to rent that came with a huge kitchen meant for entertaining, a great big wood burning fireplace, a fabulous hot tub, a dining room table to accommodate us all, a shuffleboard table and a wine fridge.

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Our trip began in downtown Leavenworth where we stopped for lunch at Munchen Haus to enjoy a sausage, sauerkraut, as well as beer and mulled wine. We walked the streets of town and got our bearings before setting off to check into the lodge.

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While it was a little different than I expected, the lodge worked out really well for us. I wish there would have been two more bedrooms and bathrooms, but the three {of each} that were there sufficed pretty well. The layout was meant for entertaining, though was still a little sectioned off. I would definitely stay there again – the hot tub was awesome, there was a huge deck off the back overlooking the expansive property and onto the mountains. The kitchen was enormous and had a lot of space to set food out for all of us to indulge in. We brought our own Christmas tree and a few decorations, as we had been told that the lodge wasn’t decorated for Christmas. As it turned out, there was a huge artificial tree and tons of decor in the closet. I guess the property manager was just too lazy to decorate for us!

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The trip was a wonderful hodgepodge of cooking, eating, drinking, skiing, chatting and playing games. The first night we were treated to an Italian meal called Spetzatinna {or something similar}, which is a ragu with slow cooked beef served with polenta. It was divine!

Our first ski day was Christmas Eve. We woke up to find an early Christmas gift in the form of new snow! I think it’s safe to say we all enjoyed getting back on the slopes at Stevens Pass.

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Donna prepared our delicious Christmas Eve turkey dinner and we spent the evening playing the game called “Things” which is a new favorite.

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Christmas day started out with homemade cinnamon and orange rolls, opening our pajamas and gigantic stocking and just hanging out. We spent the day at the lodge and went in the hot tub, played Uchre, worked on the neverending puzzle and the ladies did Pilates. My mom arrived just in time for our prime rib dinner on Christmas night. She flew in late so she could spend Christmas morning with my brother back in Minnesota. Our night was finished with a grossly inappropriate game of Cards Against Humanity. Nothing like playing that game with your parents!

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The day after Christmas we all piled in the SUVs and headed back to the mountains for more skiing.

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We had planned on doing a sleigh ride that evening but there wasn’t enough snow for the sleigh so it got canceled. That meant we had more time in downtown Leavenworth to taste wine at Icicle River Winery and eat dinner at Gustav’s.

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On our final full day in Leavenworth the moms treated themselves to a day at the spa while the rest of us made our final turns at Stevens Pass in one last day of skiing. It snowed quite a few inches during the day, which conveniently provided us with free snow refills.

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We headed back to Seattle on Sunday with two very full SUVs, while my mom made her way slowly back to the airport. She went back home a day earlier than everyone else, and just as she was getting ready to leave the lodge we found out that chains were required to get through the mountain pass. Having a rental car meant she didn’t have chains, so she had to take the long way around through a different mountain pass. Of course less than 30 minutes after she left, the restriction was lifted so she could have gone the original route anyway. Oh well!

The rest of us packed up and headed back to our house since we still had one more night with the rest of the gang in Seattle. We spent quite a bit of time playing the game Fibbage on the Xbox before settling in for an evening of drinking wine at Bottlehouse.

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Our house is now empty and feels much too quiet. It was very sad to see our families leave today after such a wonderful Christmas vacation with everyone. We are so grateful that our family was willing to come out to Washington to celebrate Christmas with us in the mountains. We knew it was a lot to ask but now that we’ve had our first Christmas out here we hope it won’t be the last. This holiday will go down as a highlight of my Christmas memories from recent years.

 

Third Annual Leavenworth Octoberfest Weekend

We just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Leavenworth, Washington for their Octoberfest celebration. This is our third year taking this trip and we keep saying every year we get better and better at it. For sure this one was the best!

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Our group changed a little bit from the last two years. This year we had Dave and Trish and their little dog Louis with us. We really enjoy the Hilliards {and loved meeting Louis!} and they were a welcome addition. We stayed in the same rental house as we did last year. This house was perfect for us – it had four bedrooms, a fenced in yard for the three dogs, a hot tub, and a really open kitchen/living area. Alex and I stay in a lot of vacation rentals and we really enjoy doing that, particularly with big groups of friends because then we can all help prepare meals and spread out and just spend more time together.

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One other thing that we modified from years’ past is that we all left Seattle by 1:00, which got us to the rental house by 3:30. We practically had another day there, it felt, because in the past we have always worked a full day and then headed out, fought traffic and arrived closer to 8:00.

{The Millers made sauerbraten for dinner on Friday - it had been marinading/brining for FIVE DAYS before our trip! It was awesome!}

{The Millers made sauerbraten for dinner on Friday – it had been marinading/brining for FIVE DAYS before our trip! It was awesome!}

The drive was simply stunning. The drive on highway 2 through Stevens Pass is always beautiful but with the bright yellow and orange leaves popping out all over the place against the backdrop of the rocky terrain and the river it is just breathtaking. In retrospect I should have stopped for a few photos…

Since we all arrived so early on Friday we had a lot of time to catch up and hang out. Alex brought his famous new shot ski, so we took shots of wine, beer and/or water. No one brought hard alcohol or anything particularly good to take a shot of, so we had to be creative just to put the shot ski to good use!

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Both evenings ended with some good old fashioned card games. Friday we busted out Cards Against Humanity, which is always a fun favorite, but we had a new addition this year. I got a brand new game called The Game of Things which was so fun! We all agreed that we liked it much better than Cards Against Humanity. It’s more interactive and you can be a lot more creative than Cards Against Humanity. It is still inappropriate {but could also be more innocent} and hilarious.

{Patrick is 6'6" and Dave is about 5'6", so it was fun to watch this...}

{Patrick is 6’6″ and Dave is about 5’6″, so it was fun to watch this…}

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Saturday was our big day in the town of Leavenworth. After a delicious breakfast and leisurely morning we drove into Leavenworth and parked ourselves at a table and ordered sausages, pretzels and giant steins of beer {well, the boys drank the beer…}. Carrie, being the studious student she is, took a couple hours to herself to go study for an upcoming nursing school test she had, so Trish, Mary and I walked around some of the shops.

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We popped into several wineries and did some tastings, we also did some olive oil and balsamic tastings, along with chocolate tastings. Needless to say we had our fair share of sugar! Leavenworth is such a cute town and it is just oozing with character on its own, but several of the shops are just adorable, so we had a great time dropping into them.

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While we were doing girlie things the boys were drinking more beer and then they found a random mini golf course, so they did some putting and hanging out. All in all, it was a great afternoon spent in Leavenworth. The weather held out and didn’t rain and we had a really fun time exploring some parts of the city that we had previously missed.

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We got back to the house just before dark and Carrie started to whip up our feast for dinner. We spent the rest of the evening eating, chatting and playing The Game of Things before retreating to bed.

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The last day of a vacation always seems to be one of the hardest. You know it’s coming to an end but you want to savor the rest of the trip… I made breakfast on Sunday and we were able to relax and read by the fire. Because we got a late check-out, Mary led a pilates class for 5 of us in their bedroom. I asked her to take a picture and she told me to take a mental picture, so sorry that I can’t provide a humorous image of 5 adults doing pilates in a very small space. It felt amazing to get a good stretch in after our fun weekend and before our drive home.

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{this photo was taken in the back yard of the house we stayed at. simply gorgeous!}

Thanks Millers, Buffingtons and Hilliards for the best Leavenworth weekend yet! Here’s to an even better one next year…

Ski Trip in Leavenworth with Alex’s Parents

After my parents’ repeat visits it was time to welcome Alex’s parents for their spring visit to Seattle. Donna and Stan came out to spend some time with us last weekend. They arrived on Friday morning and we had a quick lunch at the Hi Spot before we packed up the SUV and hit the road to head for the mountains.

Cascade Mountains from Stevens Pass

Cascade Mountains from Stevens Pass

It was a beautiful day for a drive and we loved checking out the views through Snoqualmie Pass and Bluwett Pass as we approached our cabin in Peshastin, Washington, just outside the town of Leavenworth. It took us just over 2 hours to get there from our house, which was a nice and easy drive to get us out of town. Our rental cabin was so cute!! It was really in the middle of nowhere, situated on a huge lot. The cabin had a funny layout but it worked really well for us with a galley kitchen that opened up onto the dining room and living room. The view of the Cascade Mountains from the front of the cabin was incredible.

Our cute little rental cabin

Our cute little rental cabin

Jackson was in paradise the whole time we were at the cabin. The property allowed for him to go outside off leash and run around and roam free. He and Alex played ball for hours upon hours. Jackson has some pretty substantial anxiety issues, we’ve realized, so we were a bit nervous and unsure of how he would do in the new space. Much to our surprise he actually did do pretty well! At our last cabin weekend at Crystal Mountain we didn’t get any sleep at all the first night because Jackson was up crying all night from anxiety and restlessness. Thankfully he went to bed just fine both nights and was able to feel comfortable in the house and he didn’t feel the need to mark his territory in the house, either.

He was in absolute heaven.

He was in absolute heaven.

We didn’t have much on the agenda for our first night, other than to run into Leavenworth, check out the town and grab some groceries. We picked up some steaks, a lot of wine and some appetizers to enjoy back at the cabin. It was so nice to relax and catch up with Alex’s parents on our first night.

Jackson did such a good job of settling down in the cabin.

Jackson did such a good job of settling down in the cabin.

On Saturday we had a wonderfully relaxing morning at the cabin before packing up the car and driving about 45 minutes to Stevens Pass to go skiing for the day. Alex and I typically ski at Crystal Mountain and I have only skied at Stevens Pass once, while Alex has skied there a handful of times. Neither one of us is too familiar with the mountain so it was fun to explore some new terrain.

Ski tips up!

Ski tips up!

The weather on Saturday was wonderful! We enjoyed skiing in the sunshine – it was so warm that most of us ended up dropping a layer in a locker we rented. I always get a kick out of skiing with Donna and Stan because it is amazing to watch how much they improve from the start of the day to the end. The last time they had skied was in Breckenridge at Thanksgiving when they had their ski lesson. I think the pointers from ski instructor Rick really stuck with them! Stan, especially, showed drastic improvements – he truly looked like a different skier from the first run to the last.

Pro skiers!

Pro skiers!

After our fun ski day we headed back home to soak in the hot tub. It’s not a ski vacation unless there’s a hot tub! We had a wonderful dinner together before we all passed out on the comfy sectional in the living room.

My handsome hubby!

My handsome hubby!

One of the disappointing parts of great weekends is they always go too fast! We were all enjoying our time at the cabin so much that it was very sad when it was time to say goodbye on Sunday morning. It was such a relaxing environment for all of us, which was much needed. I wish we could have stayed longer!

Hanging out in Leavenworth

Hanging out in Leavenworth

On our way back to Seattle we decided to stop in Leavenworth again to spend a few hours perusing the town and grabbing lunch. Leavenworth is an adorable Bavarian-style town in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. It is really quite picturesque. Alex and I have spent more and more time here in the last few years and adore the town.

The four of us

The four of us

Since it was another gorgeous day Alex and Stan parked themselves at an outdoor beer garden and ordered a stein of beer to enjoy while Donna and I browsed in some of the shops and did a couple wine tastings. We met up with the boys for a lunch of sausage and pretzels at the Muchen Haus before getting back on the road to Seattle.

Leavenworth photo opp with the mountains in the backdrop

Leavenworth photo opp with the mountains in the backdrop

The rest of our day kept in line with being very relaxing. We shared a bottle of wine on our front porch before walking up to the new restaurant in our neighborhood, Red Cow, for a delicious steak dinner. I haven’t been impressed with Red Cow’s dessert menu, so I suggested we walk across the street to Bottlehouse to see if they’re still open. Everything about Bottlehouse is impressive, including their dessert menu, so we were happy to see that they still allowed us to come in for a night cap even though they had already technically closed. One of the many perks of being regulars, I guess! Donna and Stan got to catch up with Henri, one of the owners, while Alex and I ordered a bottle of bubbly and some pots de creme, two of our favorites.

Wine tasting

Wine tasting

Monday meant back to work for Alex and me. Donna and Stan were feeling independent so they hopped on the city bus and headed downtown to do a little shopping before meeting Alex for lunch near his new office. Shortly thereafter it was time for me to take them to the airport before I had to go to work.

Alex and Stan

Alex and Stan

It’s hard to believe how quickly our time came and went with Alex’s parents! As always, it was wonderful to have them come and visit. We are so fortunate that although we live so far away from our parents they still come to see us in Seattle and we always have a great time!