Tag Archives: new years

2010-2019… A Decade Recap

I’ve been super nostalgic lately and I think it’s partly due to the fact that my toddlers are growing up before my eyes, but also partly because the decade is coming to an end. I wanted to put together a little photo reel of images I thought summed up each year of the 2010s. Happy New Year!


We bought our first house! Back when we were 24 we were not anticipating still being there a decade later and bringing home our babies to that home. We fell in love with our little craftsman and absolutely adore our neighborhood. I don’t know if we’ll ever leave Madrona, but hopefully one day we’ll up-size and get a slightly bigger house.


Skiing was a major part of our 2011. This winter we made it to Whistler, Breckenridge, Jackson Hole and Crystal Mountain. We palled around Crystal Mountain with our friends Carrie and Patrick, as well as Steve and Diane, and solidified our friendship, love of the mountains and skiing skills.  We rented a cabin for four weekends the winter of 2010-2011 with two other couples and that was the gateway to our quest for our own ski cabin. 2011 also marked the year that Alex and I snuck off to the courthouse and got legally married, then later that year Alex’s paternal grandmother, Maxine, passed away.


Our winter wonderland wedding took place on April 14, 2012 in the mountain town of Vail, Colorado. 90 of our family members and closest friends joined us as we said “I do” while surrounded by puffy snowflakes falling down just for the occasion. 2012 was also the year we got our puppy, Aspen. Sadly, she only lived six months. We also said goodbye to Alex’s maternal grandfather, Papa.


We celebrated our first anniversary in Hawaii just before bringing home our puppy, Jackson. That summer was filled with weddings and associated parties, as well as travel to said weddings. As newlyweds ourselves it was extra fun to celebrate our friends’ nuptials. Along the way in 2013, I lost both of my grandmothers and now Alex and I only have one surviving grandparent – his maternal grandmother, Nana.


The trip of a lifetime was our major 2014 highlight. We spent a month touring Italy, Switzerland, Spain, London and Amsterdam. The reason for the trip was to attend the dreamy wedding of Alex’s sister, Alina, and her husband, Alberto in northern Italy. Our trip was a dream and we think back on this so often.


This was the last year before we had kids and we sure lived it up in 2015. We drank all of the wine, took as many trips as possible and enjoyed our time together. I got pregnant in the fall of 2015, so the year ended with my first trimester.


During the earlier parts of my pregnancy Alex and I managed to squeeze in quite a few memorable ski days. We went to Park City together, then Alex went on a cat ski trip with our friend Patrick while I went to Whistler with my dad. I’m so grateful we got that many ski days before we became parents. Ben arrived on the very last day of May in 2016 via an abrupt c-section. After a month in the NICU we brought him home and started our life as a family of three. Having a premature newborn is no easy feat. There were many challenges and so much joy in 2016. We certainly adjusted to our new normal and were so very grateful to have had Edina, our wonderful nanny help us navigate the beginning of parenthood.


I had a hard time coming up with a “theme” for 2017. It really was a fun year but not one with a major trend, other than navigating parenthood. We managed to travel a bit – we went to Arizona, Whistler, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois and we bought the property in Leavenworth that we eventually built The Lodge on.


Hannah was born right in the middle of summer 2018. She was the absolute best baby and made us feel like a real family. A few months before Ben turned 2 we broke ground on building The Lodge, and Alex had a big job change.


The Lodge was completed in early 2019 and our year was spent adjusting to our new life with two toddlers and two homes. The joy we experienced in 2019 is a life’s worth. We made all of the memories and squeezed in as much as we possibly could to this special year. We spent so much time together as a family, as well as with our extended family and close friends. Early in the year I left my job to stay home with our kiddos.

I can’t even imagine what’s in store for the next decade. I only hope that the 2020s bring us more family time, a continued love of exploration and nature, good health, an abundance of travel and patience. By the end of the 2020s our children will be teenagers and Alex and I will be approaching our mid-40s. I don’t really think I’ve thought about what those days late in the next decade will possibly look like – I just hope they’re happy ones.

2018 Recap…A Year in Review

The theme of 2018 for our family has been “change.” We had one big change after another all year long and they’re still coming at us hard. While it’s been overwhelming at times, we’ve weathered the changes just fine and have had such a special year. This is also the year we really felt like we were a real deal family now that we have two kids.

The year started out with the loathsome first trimester of my pregnancy with Hannah in combination with the arrival of our au pair, who didn’t end up working out. During this time Alex was interviewing for a new job, a process that is grueling to say the least. I had almost daily migraines because I was so stressed out about our undesirable childcare situation.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the first portion of 2018, other than the challenges that went along with it.

The sun came out for us, both literally and figuratively, when we took a much needed family-of-three vacation to Arizona. It was undeniably a highlight of the year. We loved taking Ben swimming and watching the pure joy on his face when he’d jump in the pool over and over and over. He ate a 1/2 pound hot dog all on his own and shared a {virgin} strawberry daquiri with me. Just after we returned from Arizona, Alex started his new job and we switched au pairs.

Throughout the winter and spring Ben continued to go to his co-op preschool, which we all loved. We made wonderful friends from the preschool and I felt a comforting sense of community. It’s always nice to bump into friends from the co-op around town or at the park.

We spent the winter designing our mountain house in Leavenworth and broke ground ahead of schedule in April. The process has overall been wonderful. We are so pleased with our builder and the trades who have been building the house. We’ve taken as many trips out to the Lodge as we possibly can this year.

Ben turned two at the end of May and we invited his grandparents out to Leavenworth. It was fun to stay next door to our house and get to see the framing start to take shape.

Toddlerhood was another theme of our 2018. Alex and I have taken the positivity approach in parenting our toddler. While it is unbelievably challenging at times it is SO much fun. We love two! We are so enamored every day by the things that come out of our two-year old’s mouth, the associations he makes, how quickly he figures things out and his unbelievable vocabulary and ability to have a conversation. Raising a child from birth is undeniably the most magnificent learning opportunity.

The start of summer was also a bit of a blur for me. I was super pregnant and rather uncomfortable {as I was for most of the pregnancy} and trying to wrap up all of my work before the baby arrived.

As a birthday gift, Ben received some outdoor toys for our backyard and we loved watching him play independently outside at home, which was new for us. Every time he played outside in our postage stamp backyard in Seattle we’d envision him running and playing on our 3-acre property out in the mountains.

Soon after Ben’s second birthday we embarked on the unexpectedly long journey that is potty training. The latest rage with potty training books tells you that miraculously, even if you have a boy, he’ll magically be potty trained in three days with eight easy steps! So not the case! Why does everyone rave about this!? {They all have girls, that is why.} We’re very close to calling Ben potty trained during the day, but it’s been a life altering work in progress for the last seven months.

We managed to make several trips out to The Lodge over the summer, including one camping trip. My brother and his girlfriend came out to the Pacific Northwest/British Columbia and ended up meeting us out at Lake Wenatchee State Park to come camping with us. I have delightful memories from this two-night trip turned one-night; however it was extremely challenging going camping with a very active two-year old and being pregnant. While it was so, so wonderful I’m not in a hurry to do it again.

Hannah arrived just two weeks after our camping trip. It had been an extraordinarily busy week – I helped put on my organization’s annual golf tournament on Thursday, then Alex and I had an exhausting all afternoon affair at The Lodge with our electrician, and Saturday I spent nesting, thankfully, before my water broke that night while Alex was at a bachelor party.

Truly from the moment she was born she brought a calming sense to our family. Alex and I were overjoyed to meet our baby girl. It felt like Ben grew up overnight when Hannah was born. He had been promoted to big brother and knew just what to do. Some of my favorite moments from the year are the sweet sibling moments that I often witness. Ben and Hannah adore each other. While Ben occasionally gets jealous of Hannah’s attention he innately knows not to take it out on her. Instead, he’ll ask us to put Hannah down so he can have our attention instead. Lately, five months in, Ben is darn near the only person who can make Hannah giggle. She is already looking up to her big brother.

My maternity leave was a blessing in so many ways. My time with Hannah was so precious. I loved our daily walks and getting out and showing off my sweet baby girl. Hannah has been a dream of a baby and we are smitten.

All four of Ben and Hannah’s grandparents came out to meet their first granddaughter during my maternity leave.

I ended up spending several weeks of my maternity leave sorting through the profiles of hundreds of au pairs from around the world. Just four days before Hannah was born, Stacey, our au pair at the time, told us that she was, in fact, not going to stay on with our family another year. She had gone back and forth on extending her time with us for a while so it didn’t come as a complete shock. Stacey finished out her contract with us and went back to England in late November. Finding a new au pair was a time consuming, competitive and overwhelming process and in the end, we decided to contract with Stacey’s cousin, Anna, as our next au pair. She just arrived from England at the end of December.

In the midst of my maternity leave, Ben started Spanish immersion preschool at a spot near our house. We were delighted to be able to have him immersed in Spanish language from the early age of two. Unfortunately the school didn’t end up working out for us. I quickly scrambled and pulled together a backup plan.

In early October Ben started preschool for the second time – his Monday through Thursday is split between the same co-op he was at the previous school year and a different preschool. He was instantly comfortable and fell right back into his groove at the co-op with his old teacher.

Alex and I have loved the emotion coaching he has received, the music classes that enrich his school day and the time he’s spending away from his family as he’s getting closer and closer to kindergarten. He is developing so rapidly and comes home with new vocabulary and has really started to talk about and regulate his feelings.

Throughout the course of the summer and fall Alex and I made numerous trips out to The Lodge to make decisions or see the progress of our house. Occasionally we brought both kids with us and made a day out of it. We have so many wonderful memories from some of those day trips and we are all the more excited for our house to be finished just after the new year.

One of the on-going themes of our year has been a challenge with childcare. This was exacerbated during the holiday season as we said good bye to our second au pair, Stacey, and had a three-week lapse before Anna, our brand new au pair arrived a couple days ago. I got to play “stay-at-home-mom” for a few weeks and enjoyed a lot of quality time with the kiddos.

The holiday season this year was extra special with our little ones. Ben seemed to mostly understand the concept of Santa. Our Christmas holiday was spent in the snowy mountains surrounded by Alex’s family. We made so many new memories this season.

We are closing out 2018 together as a family of four plus our new au pair, Anna. Alex and I are giddy with anticipation and can hardly wait to move into our mountain house. We have no idea how it will change our lives this year and forever – we just know it will. Cheers to bidding adieu to a busy, chaotic and mementos 2018 and welcoming 2019 – a year I hope brings so much time with family and friends and making new memories and traditions.

Looking back…





2017 Recap… A Year in Review

About this time every year I am so glad that I take the time to keep our blog up-to-date with what’s going on in our little lives. It’s so fun to look back on what’s happened during the past year and put together a recap. 2017 has been a very special, joyful year for our family. It’s hard to believe that we started 2017 with an immobile baby and we’re ending the year with a walking, talking toddler! They say for parents of young kids that the days are long but the years are short. So far that holds true!


We began the year by taking up a new hobby: cross country skiing. It fulfilled our love of being in the mountains and we could easily bring Ben along for the ride. The winter was filled with far less downhill skiing as Alex and I had hoped, but we made do with what we could. Ben took his first trip to the playground in our neighborhood and fell in love with the swings!




Just after the turn of the new year, Ben learned how to sit up on his own. This, combined with beginning to eat solid foods, gave him a new lease on life. Now that he was a bit older, our nanny, Edina, became more able to take him to story time and other local kid-friendly attractions.





Winter was met with a bit of travel – our first trip was to Arizona in conjunction with Alex’s family, including our new nephew, Nico!



Somewhere along the line right around the time Ben began to crawl {8 months}, things got crazy. He started getting goofier, learned to pull himself up on things quite quickly and not taking our eyes off him for a second became the theme of the late winter/early spring.


Our first-ever family trip was to Whistler last March. We cross country skied one day, spent some time in the village another day and Alex and I hired a babysitter to enjoy a day on the mountain another day. Our trip came to an abrupt end on the fifth morning when Ben woke up with a 105 temperature, only for us to quickly realize that he had contracted hand, foot and mouth disease. He was absolutely miserable for a solid week. It was rough. That was the middle of cold season, of which he had something like 9.

{Our family trip to Whistler!}

{Our family trip to Whistler!}


Travel continued through the spring with a Ben and mama trip to Minnesota. It was really special to introduce Ben to his great aunt, my high school friends and their babies, meet little Madeline and spend time with other family and friends.



{Meeting Madeline and having Ben meet Sarah was a real highlight this year!}

Before we knew it, it was time to celebrate Ben’s first birthday! We invited our families out to Leavenworth to mark the occasion.




With summer in full-swing, Ben and I walked down to our neighborhood farmers market nearly every Friday. We sampled berries, picked beautiful flowers, bumped into neighbors and made quite a few memories.


Edina quickly became a part of our family and she and Ben sported their matching t-shirts one day!


Early last summer, Alex and I took a trip just the two of us down to San Francisco and Sonoma to enjoy a long weekend together. We loved touring SF, stopping by Yountville and enjoying lunch at Bouchon, tasting Napa and Sonoma wines, staying in a beautiful hotel in Sonoma and just spending time together. We didn’t expect to miss Ben so much, but next time maybe we’ll bring him along.



To commemorate Ben’s first birthday we did a family photo shoot in our neighborhood. Ben loves ice cream so we thought it would be fun to include a little tasting.



Seattle’s summer 2017 was long and beautiful. Our family enjoyed many trips to the beach, a quick trip up to Vancouver, touring the parks across the city, our summer family vacation to Seabrook and watching Ben learn how to walk. In late summer we celebrated the purchase of a 3 acre piece of land out in the mountains to build a vacation home on.

Ben_Madison Park









Travel and busy times continued as summer turned to fall. While Alex headed south to Mexico for a friend’s wedding, Ben and I flew east to Minnesota to spend time with my family. Eventually Alex met up with us and the three of us drove to Wisconsin to see his family, then Alex and I went to Chicago for the weekend for another wedding. We loved seeing our family so much this year and getting the chance for Ben and Nico to play together.







Fall seemed to last forever! We kicked off the new season by sending Ben to a twice-weekly cooperative preschool, which has been wonderful so far. The rest of the season was spent enjoying the local playgrounds, exploring our wonderful tot gyms at the community centers nearby and with our annual Leavenworth trip.











Just as the snow started to fly we took a little day trip out to Leavenworth to see our property, sample sausages and play in the snow at Stevens Pass.



Just like that and the holidays were upon us. My mom joined us in Seattle for Thanksgiving, then Alex’s family came out for Nico’s birthday and Christmas, followed by my dad’s trip out for a few days between Christmas and New Years. Alex and I managed to get some skiing in and we hosted our fourth annual holiday party.







As 2017 has now come to a close we are looking forward to a new year that I have a feeling will be filled with firsts. Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!



Ben is Seven Months Old!

Happy New Year! We are ringing in 2017 with our seven month old!! Several of our friends have told us that from about four months on it just keeps getting more and more fun and we are really seeing that hold true with Ben. The first few months were fun in their own way but now that he’s super interactive and alert, he is a blast! Here is what Ben is up to these days…


Ben’s Seven Month Stats:

  • Weight: 15 pounds 11 ounces
  • Percentile for weight: 8th!
  • Number of teeth: zero
  • Clothing size: Teetering between 3-6 month and 6-9 month clothes, depending on the brand
  • BTW: If you see an outfit that says “6 months” that means 3-6 months…
  • Ben doesn’t have another check-up with his pediatrician until 9 months so we won’t have an updated length for a while


The biggest change in his seventh month is that Ben started eating solid food! We started right when he turned six months old and it took about three weeks but now he’s mastering the pureed foods. When foods have more texture he is still figuring out how to navigate them in his mouth and swallow.


Ben’s favorite food is without question sweet potatoes. He’s tried apples, bananas, avocado, oatmeal, ground beef and egg as well. I’ve been pureeing most foods but also giving him things like sweet potato fries or apple wedges to gnaw on. Eggs are served scrambled.


He’s mastered feeding himself with a spoon. I had expected that I’d have to put the spoon in his mouth and feed him but instead I hand him the spoon, usually upside down, and he takes it and puts it in his mouth. Most of the food actually makes it into his mouth, though by the end of the meal he’s wearing quite a bit of it. He loves chomping on the spoon too! Bath time and laundry have become a daily occurrence in this house now, as well.


Throughout his seventh month, Ben was seemingly changing every single day! He went through a physical growth spurt and tons of developmental changes. Most of his growth was really small but we noticed day-by-day he would figure something new out or be able to balance better from one day to the next and other times it’s figuring out how to make new noises. I think, though, the thing that grew the most was Ben’s feet. He’s in size 12-24 month socks already! You’re welcome for the big feet, Ben!


The biggest challenge we had with Ben as a six month old was sleep. He went through a significant sleep regression, likely due to a combination of travel/adjusting to the time change, major developmental changes and learning how to sleep on his tummy.


At the end of his seventh month {within the last week or so} he started becoming more comfortable sleeping on his belly and resumed sleeping through the night. We had a few rough nights in there, though, where we were waking up 8-10 times a night to help him re-adjust and get back to sleep. Needless to say, our coffee intake increased substantially in the month of December. Thankfully, though, it seemed to work itself out and we’ve started to catch up on sleep again.


This last month has been filled with physical development for Ben. His physical movements are so much more calculated and solid. He’s not really mobile yet, though he can sort of navigate around his play mat and get to toys by rolling and doing little scoots, but his rolling skills are really improving and his balance and body control is more precise.


The biggest physical thing that Ben is working on right now is sitting. He is able to sit unsupported for a period of time; however, he doesn’t quite have the core strength and control to keep himself upright 100% of the time. He still tips over if he gets off balance. We’re not able to plop him down on the ground in a seated position and leave him there, but we are able to sit him upright and he’ll stay that way for a few minutes until he gets distracted or over-reaches for a toy.


Ben’s personality is really starting to emerge. This kid is so much like his father and he’s got a BIG personality!! He is stubborn, very charming and social, curious, observant, happy and easy to make smile and quite a chatterbox. He’s also quite easily distracted… I think he gets that one from his mother though!


We are having so much fun with Ben and can’t wait to see how much he changes in his eighth month!


2016 Recap… A Year in Review

Another year down…. 2016 has left a really big mark in my life. It has been the year with the most significant ups and downs and it will likely be one of the most momentous years of my entire life. This was the year we became parents, after all!


Our 2016 began with the announcement of my pregnancy! We were elated to share the news with our friends and family.


{First ultrasound at 8 weeks!}

{First ultrasound at 8 weeks!}

Shortly after we announced the pregnancy I started to feel mostly human again, after having spent my first trimester nauseous and averse to foods. It was so exciting for me once I was finally showing – it’s so strange being pregnant. You’re going through this massive life event and yet it’s no big deal for anyone else.



{17 weeks today!}

Early in January we took a spontaneous trip to Leavenworth, an adorable town in the mountains, and stayed at the Sleeping Lady for a weekend away together. We tried cross country skiing, drank lots of hot chocolate and relaxed.


We took a ski trip in February with Alex’s parents to Deer Valley, Utah. It’s always nice picking up and meeting somewhere fun with Alex’s parents, and we’re particularly fond of Utah, plus there are some posh perks of going to Deer Valley!


Being able to spend time in the mountains is something that is extremely important to Alex and me, and it was really special to still be able to do that last winter. I loved skiing while I was pregnant. I was extra cautious, but it was something that made me feel normal.


One of the many highlights from my 2016 was when my dad came out to visit – we drove up to Whistler for our own little ski trip, just the two of us.


While my dad and I were in Whistler, Alex and our friend Patrick were on the other side of British Columbia on a cat ski trip. They had an incredible time together!

Day two - tired legs but big smiles.

This is the cat - a magic box that takes you into great terrain.

In our spare time last winter and spring we were busy preparing for the arrival of our baby. We did a lot of home projects, mainly organizing and rearranging, and a ton of online shopping and researching. We wanted to have the nursery mostly put together by the end of April when several family members were planning on coming out for my baby shower.


Initially we debated whether or not we’d find out the gender of our baby in advance of his/her arrival. Eventually Alex convinced me to find out and we were very surprised, but thrilled, to learn via ultrasound that we were having a boy! Seemingly everyone expected we were having a girl.


{We weren't trying to get a picture with Jackson in it - he just showed up when Alex pulled out the camera, but that meant you can't really see the size of my belly that well because I wasn't quite prepared!}

My BFF Sarah came out for a weekend visit in March. We both found out that we were pregnant on the same day and ended up having due dates a day apart! During her trip we went to a prenatal yoga class, did some shopping and chatted a ton about baby stuff, naturally.



I celebrated my 30th birthday at the end of March, followed by our 5th wedding anniversary in mid-April. Somewhere in there Alex and I splurged on an overnight in Woodinville at Willows Lodge with dinner at the famous Herbfarm. The meal was divine and we had such a lovely time together.


April was really busy for us. Alex high-tailed it off to southern Mexico to visit our friends Justin and Tania, who lived in San Cristobal, a large city in the mountainous state of Chiapas. It was a trip with highs and lows – Alex loved the beauty of the region but came to appreciate some of the modern amenities he is used to in the US.


While Alex was in Mexico I flew east to Minnesota to visit family and friends. Two of my best girl friends from Minnesota were pregnant and due within weeks (or days!) of me. It was so fun seeing them!


My aunt hosted a baby shower for me out here in Seattle. We had several family members come in from the Midwest to attend it. The shower was very beautiful, tasteful and I really enjoyed introducing some of my friends from out here to my Midwest family.


Since so many people were visiting we planned a bunch of outings that weekend. It was fun showing off our beautiful city!


The following weekend my friend, Cate, hosted another baby shower for me. The shower was a mountain theme, which was perfect, and we had a lovely time!

{My mountain-themed shower!}

The week in between my baby showers I found out, via a routine prenatal appointment and later confirmed by ultrasound, that I had IUGR {Intrauterine Growth Restriction} and something was causing my baby to not grow properly. The weeks that followed are now a blur, but that was the start of the roller coaster ride.


Ultimately, I spent the next month in and out of doctor’s appointments and then the hospital, finally being hospitalized for 3 weeks until I delivered. The time in the hospital was both really difficult, but also I look back with some fond memories.

{33 weeks pregnant here... 2 days before I met Ben!}

{33 weeks pregnant here… 2 days before I met Ben!}

Our son Benjamin Ames Allen was born at 11:21 a.m. on Tuesday May 31st, weighing in at 3 pounds 3 ounces. He arrived nearly 7 weeks early but we were ready to meet our kiddo!



The first month of Ben’s life was spent in the NICU, while he learned how to eat from a bottle, as well as put on some weight. That month was unbelievably trying, but was filled with memories of kangaroo care and getting to know our son.


20160604_034758008_iOS (1)


He’s a little trooper and after 26 days he was able to come home!


Our summer at home was filled with walks around the neighborhood, brunch at Vendemmia, a random trip to Yakima wine country, visits from family and lots of time together. Alex was able to have 10 weeks of paternity leave, so once Ben came home through Labor Day, we were together as a family.





One of our first “projects” over the summer was Ben’s newborn photo session. He was SO tiny!!




We wrapped up our summer with an extended visit by Alex’s parents, and both of our siblings.







Ben’s first “getaway” was mid-August when we went to Lake Chelan for a few days with Alex’s parents. It was really fun getting out of Seattle and taking Ben to a new place. We learned quickly just how much gear goes along with a baby!


September arrived and so did the reality of both of us going back to work. We hired a terrific nanny who made the transition so much easier, and by the end of the month we were in a new groove. It took much longer than I expected to get used to life as a working mom.




At the end of September we took our annual Leavenworth Octoberfest trip with our friends the Buffingtons and the Millers and their kids. There were four babies under one!



{Me with Roslyn}

Throughout the fall we spent our Wednesday nights at our PEPS {Program for Early Parent Support} group. This is our group of parents with very similar age babies. It is facilitated by a volunteer parent who has a little more experience than we do, but it fosters connection among parents in the area and provides some learning opportunities, as well. I really enjoyed meeting the other parents and hope to continue some of our relationships.


Most of the fall was spent getting into a groove and adjusting to our new life as working parents. A few weeks in we got into a pretty good routine, but it is certainly a flexible one, as our day-to-day changes pretty regularly.





We spent Thanksgiving in Illinois, visiting Alex’s extended family. This meant Ben took his first airplane ride!



The holidays came and went. We hosted our third annual holiday party and celebrated Ben’s first Christmas at home by going up to the mountains and playing in the snow, as well as hanging out at home by the fire.







This kid and our life keep getting more and more fun by the day. It is so cool to look back on 2016 with such fondness, even though we had some significant challenges. Amidst the ups and downs, we’re grateful for so much in this life.


Happy New Year from our family to yours!

A Year in Review…2015 Recap!

One of the absolute best parts of this blog is writing our year-end or seasonal recaps. I forget about a lot of the things we do during the year and it’s so fun to look back through our photos or posts from the year and refresh my memory. Overall, 2015 has been a really positive year, but really one that was more constant and had fewer “big” highlights than the last few years. Let’s start from the top!


Our 2015 kicked off with one of the most fun highlights of the whole year: our ski trip to Park City, Utah! We had so much fun exploring the food scene in Deer Valley and skiing Alta, Snowbird and Snowbasin. This was the only trip we took in 2015 that was just the two of us.


I ventured SO far out of my comfort zone later that month when I took a three-day backcountry ski clinic for women. It was terrifying, eye-opening, inspiring and confidence-boosting all at the same time.


One of the worst parts of 2015 was when our Henry cat went missing for 11 days. It is still heartbreaking to think about, but after spending that time in our neighbor’s garage, he has made a full recovery and continues to love on Jackson more and more.


I got a big promotion in the beginning of the year, so my work-life changed tremendously when I began working full-time in February.

Last winter’s “ski season” was completely pathetic. It was so disappointing. I skied 12 days last winter and I think Alex had 10 or 11. We typically average around 25-35 per ski season. It was an “El Nino” winter, which meant it was unusually warm and wet – too warm for snow. Our winter looked much different than usual… Thankfully we took a big trip to Mexico in mid-February so we could find something to do!


Our trip to Mexico included a week in Puerto Vallarta with my mom, while Alex was off in Guadalajara with some of his friends. He met me in PV and then we headed across Bandaras Bay to Yelapa to attend the wedding of our friends Nigel and Jolene at a remote accessible-by-boat-only destination in the jungle. After we returned home from Mexico we hired a private Spanish tutor to come to our house once a week and help us become more conversationally fluent in Spanish {one of both of our bucket list items!}. We plan to keep this up into 2016.



One of the silver linings of the ski season was another ski trip we had. This one was in Jackson Hole, where we met my dad. There wasn’t a whole lot of snow, but there was a ton of sun and really amazing food. We love Jackson!!


With the absence of a ski season in Washington, our March and April were super boring. The weather in Seattle was sensational, though {another silver lining}, so we spent a ton of time outside drinking wine and mourning the state of our backyard.


We celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary in the Yakima Valley by doing a big overnight wine tour of the region. It was a really nice little getaway!


May marked the start of summer with the weather and our travel/wedding season. Alex attended a bachelor party in Montreal in mid-May with a bunch of his high school friends. We also celebrated Alex’s 29th birthday with a surprise party! My birthday was celebrated with a Thai cooking class that we took together.


While Alex went home to Illinois to celebrate his dad’s retirement in May, my dad, brother and aunt came out to attend my cousin Jon’s wedding. It was nice to show them around Olympic National Park and spend time together.



We flew back to Illinois again in June to attend the wedding of Alex’s cousin Josh during a sweltering heat wave.


And then we flew back to Illinois again in July to attend the wedding of Alex’s friend Adam.



And then we flew to Minnesota to attend the wedding of Alex’s friend Sammy.


Somewhere in there we squeezed in a weekend in Lake Chelan so that Alex could participate in a major bike ride, including some very steep climbs. Lake Chelan is absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to go back again.



Nearby Lake Chelan is where we spent a separate weekend in late July – we went camping with the Millers and the Furtwanglers at Lake Wenatchee State Park. It was ungodly hot, so that made camping a little uncomfortable, but being right on the lake and having a canopy to cover part of our campsite provided a little solace.


The summer of 2015 was, I believe, the hottest on record for Seattle. Now I’m really not one to complain, but our 106 year-old house had zero insulation or shade, nor air conditioning, so having our interior temperature hold steady at 92 degrees got old pretty quickly. We got creative with the grill and made a lot of salads for lunch, but our wimpy Seattle blood isn’t used to the heat!


Some other highlights of the summer include finding out that our friends Mary and Ryan were going to have twin boys this fall…


Celebrating Alex’s big promotion!…


Getting several pre-cancerous moles removed…


Spending time with my college roommate Rachel…


Catching up with Alex’s family in Illinois….


And my family in Minnesota…




Oh, and my friends, too!


We took a really fun trip down to the Willamette Valley wine region in Oregon with my friend Sarah and her husband Mike. We sampled an enormous amount of wine and spent a day on the Oregon coast.


The summer came to a close with the Allens annual trip out to Seattle. We spent the long Labor Day weekend on San Juan Island with Alex’s parents.


In mid-September my mom came out to visit and watch me run my first half marathon!


Sometime in mid-summer we began the process of a major redecorating/renovation in our house. We revamped our bedroom, living room and dining room and completely remodeled our master bathroom. The process was much longer than we expected but our house has completely transformed and we are so proud and happy with how it turned out!




Our annual fall kick-off tends to be our trip to Leavenworth with three other couples: the Millers, Buffingtons and Hilliards. We had a great time this year, though it was a different trip, because all three of the other women were pregnant. Next year there will be five babies!


We took one final trip back to Illinois for the year for our final wedding of 2015: the wedding of my college roommate Julie.


One of the big highlights from the fall was finally “breaking ground” on our major bathroom renovation. It was a two-month process to gut the bathroom and put it back together. It was well worth the wait!



The biggest highlight of the fall {and probably the year} was finding out I was pregnant in early November! We are thrilled to be starting a family.


We spent Thanksgiving in Mexico with Alex’s family this year. It was a wonderful and relaxing week in Puerto Vallarta to celebrate Donna and Stan’s 35th anniversary.


Ski season went off with a bang this year and December proved to be a fantastic month for skiing!


As 2015 comes to a close and I reflect on all that’s happened, I am really focusing on the future. 2016 is going to be a huge year for Alex and me. We’re both turning 30 this year, and, of course, our life will dramatically change this summer with the birth of our first child. I am seeing the end of 2015 as the closing of our “young adult” chapter and 2016 as the beginning of our “building a family” chapter. I have no idea what this chapter will look like or how it will play out, but I have every expectation that it will be filled with life lessons, a lot of laughter and love and many, many challenges as we face parenthood and raise our family. With that, Happy New Year!

2014… A Year in Review

2014 has been a year to remember. I think it’s safe to say that it has been our busiest year ever, filled with trips, new experiences, strengthened friendships and a lot more sunshine than usual.


The year started with a crummy ski season and a reeeeaallyyy bad case of the flu. The 2013-2014 ski season marked the year we skied the least since we moved to Seattle. It was a shame, too, because we didn’t take any ski trips in 2014.

{It's not often that I strap my skis to my back and hike up a mountain.}

{It’s not often that I strap my skis to my back and hike up a mountain.}

We had several visitors throughout the year: my dad came to ski with us twice, once bringing my brother; Bryan and Sarah visited us for a long weekend in January, as did my mom.

{Fred & John riding the gondola up to do the First Tracks breakfast at Crystal Mountain}

{Fred & John riding the gondola up to do the First Tracks breakfast at Crystal Mountain}

We finished off the winter with a little Leavenworth getaway with Alex’s parents. Somewhere in there we managed to take a little weekend trip to Crystal with the Buffingtons, Millers and Sally and Ian, only to ski in the rain.



Spring came early to Seattle and filled the city with an abundance of sunshine and glorious weather. We celebrated our third anniversary and spent a bit of time working on our yard, per usual, and trying our hand at some gardening.

{What a mess!}

{What a mess!}

Alex broke his wrist and several ribs in an unfortunate bike accident.


As a trial-run for our Europe trip we headed up to Vancouver, BC to be “International” tourists for a weekend in May.



I jetted off to DC and Annapolis for Alina’s bachelorette party. We also hired a dog trainer to help us be better puppy parents.

{I spent a weekend in DC and Baltimore celebrating my sister in-law's bachelorette party}

{I spent a weekend in DC and Baltimore celebrating my sister in-law’s bachelorette party}

Once June hit it seemed like the fast forward button got pushed and time just raced right on by. We spent an incredible month tooting around Europe, stopping in Italy for Alina and Alberto’s wedding, then moving on through Switzerland, Spain, London and Amsterdam, before ending our major vacation in Minnesota for Cammy and Adam’s wedding.

{Attended Alina and Alberto's fairy tale wedding in the Italian countryside}

{Alina and Alberto’s fairy tale wedding in the Italian countryside}

{Eating fondue in Switzerland was a highlight!}

{Eating fondue in Switzerland was a highlight!}

{We drank copious amounts of wine, took a tour of the Priorat wine region, sat on the beach and gorged on amazing tapas in Spain... Another major highlight!}

{We drank copious amounts of wine, took a tour of the Priorat wine region, sat on the beach and gorged on amazing tapas in Spain… Another major highlight!}

{We loved exploring London.}

{We loved exploring London.}

{Our nearly month-long trip ended in one of our new favorite cities: Amsterdam!}

{Our nearly month-long trip ended in one of our new favorite cities: Amsterdam!}

The rest of the summer was just as busy and included a camping trip near Mount Rainier with our great friends, the Millers and the Buffingtons.

{A great camping trip with great friends}

{A great camping trip with awesome friends}

Alex went to Chicago for Bryan’s bachelor party, then we both went to Lake Geneva for Bryan and Sarah’s wedding the following weekend.

Greenaway Wedding (2)

The next weekend we took a trip to Suncadia to celebrate Dave and Trish’s wedding, then we unofficially ended the summer with a Labor Day trip to Walla Walla with Alex’s parents.

Suncadia_Hilliard Wedding (12)

{The backdrop for the Hilliards wedding ceremony at Suncadia.}

{Our amazing trip to Walla Walla wine country!}

{Our amazing trip to Walla Walla wine country!}

Alex’s cousin, Bryan, came to visit for a quick weekend, as well as his friend Nick, who came for a weeklong trip. Thankfully I had the foresight to re-decorate our guest room, as our house turned into a hotel for about a month!

{The finished product.}

{The finished product.}

Fall marked a bit of a slow-down. We spent a weekend in Minnesota for my high school reunion, then celebrated ten years together with a staycation in Woodinville before we took our annual weekend trip to Leavenworth with several friends to celebrate Oktoberfest. The rest of fall meant relaxation for us.

{A great crew for our Leavenworth trip!}

{A great crew for our Leavenworth trip!}

{Had a great time decorating for fall!}

{Had a great time decorating for fall!}

The last month of the year has been a favorite, as we got into the holiday spirit by baking {56 dozen} cookies for our neighbors and family, planning and hosting our first annual holiday party, as well as our Christmas trip to Leavenworth.

{Enjoying the holiday festivities at our first annual holiday party}

{Enjoying the holiday festivities at our first annual holiday party}


Our pets were healthy, happy and fairly well-behaved this year. It was a great year for them too!



Finishing out the year in Utah by taking a ski trip just the two of us is the perfect cessation of 2014. We have SO much to look forward to in 2015… Bring it on!

New Year… New Exercise Goals!

It just so happens that Alex and I both got new jobs that have opened the doors to new exercise goals and routines around the start of the new year. It looks like our new fitness track will coincide with everyone else’s new years resolutions! Neither one of us has any specific goals with our fitness plan other than leading a healthy life that includes regular, consistent exercise and a well-balanced diet.

Both Alex and I were probably in the best shape we have ever been in over the summer, with him training for his 200-mile bike ride and me running all the time. Unfortunately, our busy schedules and lack of follow-through resulted in us “falling off the bandwagon” a bit this fall and winter. We have gotten a slow start to ski season, so we don’t even have that as a regular form of exercise either. It’s great that we both have come up with independent plans that should work for both of us to get back into a regular routine.

Alex's "Race Day"

Alex’s “Race Day”

Alex joined a gym near his new office and has been loving his new exercise routine. One of the benefits his company provides is a reimbursement for exercise equipment, so he stocked up on some new gym clothes and got a yoga mat to kick start his new habit. Alex has been going to the gym 2-3 mornings per week to start his day by lifting weights and doing cardio. He is also planning on starting yoga next week!

For at least a year, if not three years, Alex has been talking about wanting to do yoga or be better at stretching regularly. It is incredible that he is finally making that happen! I can’t wait to see how well he likes it.

One of the new running outfits I got over the summer.

One of the new running outfits I got over the summer.

Once the sun decides to rise before 8:00 a.m. I plan on getting back into running a few days per week. I am so excited to have Jackson as my running buddy now that he’s basically fully grown. It’s perfect timing, too, because he is starting to get to the point where our 3-mile morning walks don’t tire him out anymore!

I just started Pilates instruction this week and I plan on taking my Pilates class from Mary once a week. I might even mix in some mat workouts at home if I’m feeling particularly motivated. I am also planning on adding a couple days of weights at home to my fitness routine. 

It’s been nice to ease into our new fitness routines slowly so that we don’t get over amped and drop them right away. I think that we are both really motivated right now and are using our change in jobs to jump start a new healthy lifestyle in the new year!

Ringing in 2014

Hello 2014! I am happy to see you! 2013 was not my favorite year, so I’m not too sad to see it go. While we had a lot of really incredible experiences and learned a lot, 2013 was a bit of a sad year for the Allens.

Neither Alex or I have ever been much of a New Years resolution setter. We don’t really have any specific goals, per se, but I’ve identified some hopes and things that we’re looking forward to in the new year and thought I’d share them.

*We are counting down the days to our 4-week trip to Europe this year {…which we need to get planned!}

*Several family members have trips planned to come visit us over the next few months

*My fingers are crossed that we will “finish” decorating our house this year – at least our bedroom, office and guest bedroom

*This year we will be focusing on saving money and planning for our upcoming expenses and our future

*We have four weddings to attend this summer that we are very much looking forward to

*Alex just joined a new gym and has some fitness goals, while I am planning on starting Pilates shortly

*I always look forward to trying new foods and learning more about cooking – if only I could keep up with Pinterest!

I am really looking forward to 2014. I think it’s going to be a great year!


Goodbye 2013…

2013 has been a year of joy, anticipation, tears, exploration, loss, new friendships, travel, happiness, a newfound love of wine, laughter, dreams for the future and enjoyment. We said some goodbyes and introduced ourselves to new people, new experiences and new jobs. We learned a lot about life, loss and love this year. I think our perspectives have changed a bit and we have become more empathetic and able to stop and smell the roses.

Ringing in 2013

Ringing in 2013

The year started on a down and kept right on going. January begun with the unexpected death of our 6 month old puppy, Aspen. Two days later my beloved paternal grandmother passed away, and later that day I was laid off. These setbacks put us in a funk for a little while but knowing that we still had each other, our family and friends and so much else, we came out of our slump with a new attitude on life.

I'm so thankful for the time we had with this sweet girl!

I’m so thankful for the time we had with this sweet girl!

One of my favorite photos of me and Mor Mor (2003).

One of my favorite photos of me and Mor Mor (2003).

Winter is our favorite season. Some of our winter 2013 highlights include skiing quite a bit of powder at Crystal, along with an unusual number of sunny ski days, an impromptu trip to Portland, a fantastic trip to Whistler for Carrie and Patrick’s bachelorette/bachelor party in February, my dad’s ski trip in Washington, Sarah’s trip to Seattle and finding out that we were going to get a new puppy.

Alex and Patrick in Whistler

Alex and Patrick in Whistler – the power of the mustache gave us an unexpected powder day

The weather in Seattle this past spring was wonderful and made it easy for Alex to sign up and train for a 200 mile bike ride to Portland and for me to get into running.

First 5K!

First 5K!

Just a few months after getting laid off, I accepted a part-time position as the program director for a Seattle-based non-profit tutoring organization and began working again on April 1st, the day after my 27th birthday.

Enjoying a cup of birthday coffee in the sunshine on our front porch

Enjoying a cup of birthday coffee in the sunshine on our front porch

We celebrated our anniversary in April with a trip to Maui! It was a much needed week of rest, relaxation, sunshine and frozen drinks.



May marked the month that we got our new puppy, Jackson, and Sammy and Amy came out to see us.

Such a cuddle bug from day one!

Such a cuddle bug from day one!

Summer was mostly spent chasing our blonde furball around the backyard with the goal of keeping him as tired as humanly possible. My mom came out for a visit in mid-June to see Jackson and help me do some landscaping.

Showing a little interest in tennis balls/playing fetch.

Showing a little interest in tennis balls/playing fetch.

After training for several months, Alex successfully completed his 200 mile bike ride to Portland in July, only then to find out that he was expected to work what seemed like every waking second of every day until Thanksgiving.

STP Bike Race

STP Bike Race

Even so, we did get to enjoy several wonderful weekends away this summer. Our trip to Mount Hood marked the start of our summer travels when we spent a weekend camping with Ali, Tyler and Vivian. I traveled back to Minnesota for Sarah’s bachelorette party in early August, and then we went on another camping trip in mid-August with the Millers and the Buffingtons up in the North Cascades.

Mount Hood in the background

Mount Hood in the background

As summer came to a close we said goodbye to another one of our furry friends. Oliver tragically passed away in my arms after being hit by a car in front of our house. That day still haunts me but it’s comforting to think of all the memories I have of my spastic baby cat.

I will miss this ball of energy!

I will miss this ball of energy!

Once Labor Day arrived time seemed to not exist. We were so busy I don’t really know how we functioned for about 6 or 7 weeks. Alex’s parents came to visit us over Labor Day weekend and we took a quick trip to the Yakima Valley to do some wine tasting. The next weekend my dad came to see us and we did some local sight-seeing and went for a hike in the mountains. The following weekend was Carrie and Patrick’s wedding in Yakima. Two weeks later, Sarah and Mike tied the knot in northern Minnesota, and then we attended Kari and Mike’s botanical wedding in Illinois the next weekend. After we caught our breath from the wedding craze we had an eventful weekend trip to Leavenworth, Washington for Octoberfest.

Me with Mary and the blushing bride.

Me with Mary and the blushing bride.

Bridesmaids at Sarah's wedding

Bridesmaids at Sarah’s wedding

Meanwhile, along with the social craziness, both Alex and I were working double time at our jobs. I work in education, so the start of the school year is always a busy time for me, and Alex was finishing up his product cycle before the holiday season. It seemed like a great time to add in a small home renovation project – we had tile installed in the entry way of our back door to create a mudroom. Somehow we survived the craze and by Thanksgiving both of our jobs had tapered off to normalcy.

Our new mud room.

Our new mud room.

Enter the holiday season! We had a wonderful trip to Breckenridge for Thanksgiving, where we joined Donna, Stan, Alina and Alberto to catch up and ski together.

Skiing in Breckenridge

Skiing in Breckenridge

Just after we returned from our trip, Alex accepted and begun a new position with his company, and I accepted a job as a household manager for some neighbors. So far both of our new gigs are going well.

Had to throw in a cute picture of Henry sleeping in Jackson's bed :)

Had to throw in a cute picture of Henry sleeping in Jackson’s bed 🙂

The day before Alex and I flew back to Minnesota for Christmas my maternal grandmother passed away after a rough bout in the hospital. We had a nice time seeing my family and relaxing up at my cabin over Christmas. I extended my trip in order to spend extra time with my family and attend my grandmother’s funeral service.

At my college graduation in 2008.

At my college graduation in 2008.

After quite a year, Alex and I are really ready to say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. We have so much to look forward to in the new year… stay tuned!