Wednesday, June 27, 2018

notes on travel: Olympic National Park & Hoh Rainforest

ever since moving to washington i have wanted to visit the Hoh rainforest. it's the largest temperate rainforest in the northern hemisphere and considered one of the seven wonders of washington state. it also has the designation as a World Heritage Site (swanky, aye?).  the moody mossy backdrop of the forest and the many trails made it a must see for my little family.

we camped about an hour south of the Hoh rainforest. the campsite, also a rainforest, was beautiful and sat right on a huge lake. the lake was formed over 15,000 years ago by a giant glacier which settled and melted into the Quinalt Lake. the weather was a bit too cold for us to go swimming, but we enjoyed the view from our tent.

last year we went camping and realized that our tent was a tad smaller than we remembered (it was a two person tent). this year we borrowed a tent from a friend (a huge two room tent) and realized that it actually WOULD NOT fit in the tiny campsite we reserved. so... half of the tent sloped downwards, while the usable part fit perfectly on the 10x10 ft. tent space. next year, we'll have just the right tent...i just know it.

the boys spent much of the time stoking the fire with "pokers" found on the trails. three burns and one singed hairline later we finally stepped in and told the children to stop playing with the fire. there were tears and very high pitched objections. it rained all night long (we were very thankful for the 'almost' waterproof tent. i, being 21 weeks pregnant, went to the bathroom a total of eight times from the time i zipped into my sleeping bag until the time i woke up for the morning....both nights.

we drove to the Hoh rainforest on our second day camping. easton was very upset by the poncho i bought and insisted he wear, and had a rather bad attitude for most of the hike. he brightened up a bit when we discovered our first banana slug (i thought banana slugs only lived in the santa cruz mountains...a happy surprise!). sailor was happy and optimistic on our entire hike, happily taking photos and crawling into tree holes. he's our eternal optimist! we always try to encourage the kids to take part in the "Junior Ranger" program that national parks offer. so we went through the forest drawing pictures and answering questions in the free work-books they give at the visitor center. both kids were sworn in as junior rangers of the olympic national park. we were very proud.

we walked the trail called the "hall of mosses" and were amazed by beauty. tony commented that he felt it was like the grand canyon, in the way that no picture could ever do it justice. the forest looked ancient and majestic and far more beautiful in person than i could have imagined.

as always, we roasted marshmallows made trader joe's frozen dinners (gnocci on the first night and mushroom risotto on the second). tony set up the tent, i made the meals, and we all helped in making the fire last as long as we could (tony is beginning to improve on his campfire skills). the older the kids get, the more comfortable we are at letting them explore farther from the site and the more they help in the camping duties (sailor helped clean the pots while easton helped make dinner). it was a really awesome trip...we are hoping to get one more camp in this summer. we shall see.


Saturday, June 23, 2018

baby bird number three (a girl)!

 i found out i was pregnant on a trip home to the Bay. my first clue was falling asleep in the movie theater. i never fall asleep during movies...ever. i took a little test and than texted the result to my sister, then to christine, then to marissa. it took me a whole day to finally call tony. i told him over facetime...i think (i hope), i will never forget his smile.

the first trimester was a real challenge. i'm not sure those children of mine have ever logged so many hours of television in their entire lives. i was so sick that there were times (of which i'm not proud) that i was very close to hoping this whole pregnancy thang wouldn't work out. i stayed in bed as often as i could, i cried a lot, and i dreaded waking up in the morning because i would inevitably have to open the refrigerator to get breakfast ready for my boys. opening the refrigerator is a special form of torture reserved only for tough pregnancies and serious food aversions (to which I have had/been both over the years). i was sick daily...but only before i ate (another form of torture)  i mistakenly joked with my midwife that it would be nice if i could at least throw up once i've HAD something to eat- that gestational bulimia would be a welcome silver lining (ahem...joke). She did like that very much (whoopsi).

my boys were hoping for a baby sister...easton said he wanted a little sister who looked just like our friend's baby. sailor said he wanted a little "gurwel" who he would name lucy.
i just knew it would be a boy. i tried very hard to remind them how wonderful it will be to have another little boy running around the house...but my heart always wanted a girl.

i ordered two sets of confetti cannons, one blue and one pink. i had the ultra sound tech place the gender results in a sealed envelope, which i than gave to my friend. she gave me back the correct set of confetti cannons, sans any gender determining stickers. my best friend's sister just moved to bonney lake from the bay area...briana is an amazing photographer who so lovingly agreed to capture our gender reveal moment. below are the results. the surprise and excitement in all of our faces is palpable; my's etched in my heart forever. i am so grateful to be bringing this third little bird into the world, and so thankful to have a little girl.


the "open mouth smile" is something pretty common in special moments. like when best friends get married...

or when tony and i get married...

Friday, December 8, 2017

conversations with sailor.

sailor is a real kick in the pants. he has a witty, super quick sense of humor and he makes me laugh all day long. the other day, as we were driving to a doctor appointment (a location i had never been too), I had a science podcast for kids streaming on the phone and directions going simultaneously. every time Siri's voice interrupted the podcast to give me turn by turn directions, Sailor would say...

"calm down, Siri. Calm down."

i COULD NOT stop laughing. this phrase came out of no where. sailor, what will you say next?


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Notes on travel: Philadelphia

One of my best friends moved to New Jersey recently. Her new husband (tony) is a New Jersey native who knows how to order Philly cheese-steaks like a pro and speaks with a super legit NJ accent. They bought a house in Jersey, 20 minutes from the Philadelphia border, in a town where cars stop for geese as they cross the road, the streets are lined with trees, and the houses are so far apart you would never know you were in a "development."

Marissa casually brought up her desire to run the Philadelphia marathon a few months ago. I casually said I'd do it too (hand slap to forehead). So, we registered for the run, bought plane tickets, and promised to train in the months leading up. That training didn't happen. I ran about six miles two or three times, but most of the time I stayed in the three to four mile range. I was NOT ready. Luckily, she wasn't feeling super ready either- so we skipped it! 

We took a day trip to Manhattan, where we shopped, ate at Balthazar, hopped on the subway to grab desert at Serendipity (my favorite desert place in all of NY), and walked by my old apartment! I love being in New York so much...our day trip left me feeling like i could use a week trip (very soon).

On saturday (our run day) we went to Philly sans running shoes. My tony made me promise to take a picture by the Rocky statue (which I dutifully did), plus we took a quick run up the museum stairs (just like Rocky :).  We saw the Liberty Bell (from afar, we weren't going to wait in line to see it up close...sorry, it's just not that interesting). We strolled around Independence Hall, and I'll admit, I was overwhelmed a bit by our country's history. It was surprisingly humbling to stand where our forefathers stood...where they wrote, bled, and argued our country into existence (although, I could have done without that whole...electoral college bit). 

It was the shortest trip. too short. I had such a great time with my best friend...and felt so grateful for the opportunity to take a quick holiday to visit her. 


Thursday, September 28, 2017

one year in washington: wherever you go, there you are.

I had big plans for life in the Pacific Northwest. Things would move a little bit slower. I would create delicious meals every night, with healthy non-processed food (no more Macaroni & Cheese, thank you very much!). Tony and I would be home together every night, reserving the evenings for family time- "togetherness". I planned on weekly hikes with the kids- rain or shine and made a commitment to myself that I would go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier...I was going to clean bathrooms.

And then, it smacked me right in the face. Wherever you go, there you are.

Life got busy pretty quickly. Tony joined BSF, a men's bible study which met every Monday night. On Mondays, I had a regular women's meeting, where the kids would hang out in the playroom with a babysitter & the other AA kiddos. We had Community Group every Wednesday, (which has been amazing), planning sessions for Absolute Ministry's annual fundraiser on Sunday nights, plus YOGA in the evenings at iYoga in Bonney Lake. My grand plan of an early bed and early rise were sabotaged by Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Priorities were set. Evenings were packed. Togetherness...well, it happened when it happened.

Very quickly, our lives were full and busy and maybe...maybe a bit chaotic, again.  (I though chaos was reserved for the Bay Area and my college "town" of NYC).

Setting expectations is always dangerous for me. I am a bit chaotic. I'm an over-committer, who loves to LOVE people well and have alone time for my favorite things- namely yoga and detective shows. So, in knowing myself, and allowing me to be just plain old me, I can set myself up for a bit more success and a bit less chaos. I will not "create" elaborate meals, I'll plan simple healthy ones that take less time to prepare. I'll talk to Tony about our week.  We'll eat dinner together, enjoy some board game time, AND get to a late night Yoga class...if it works out. Mac & Cheese? It will happen. So will cereal for dinner. Instead of feeling guilty about that, I'll embrace it. I'll make an effort to give myself, my husband, and my schedule a little more GRACE.

I love our new home- the house...but also the place. The people. The smell in the air when it rains, and the feeling of sun on my skin when it shines. I feel settled, and less stressed. When I think about my favorite days or evenings- they always include my family, my best friends, and a bit of down time. You know, the Sacrament of Plop- that special time reserved for plopping down on the sofa and snuggling with my people.

I know I'm not the most prepared or organized mama. (How do the other preschool and kindergarten mom's remember homework, water bottles, and picture day?!?) I will never be TYPE A, but I'm okay with that. My kids are loved, my family is settled, and we have fun. A lot of fun.

Wherever you go, there you are. The geographical location changed, but I'm still me. You know, I'm okay with that...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

notes on travel: Mount Hood & Sun River, Oregon

Late July our family of four headed to Oregon, to camp at Mount Hood National Forest. It took FOREVER to find a camping spot, but I was finally able to reserve one right along the Columbia River Gorge- and now know that I should do it far more in advance next year.

We arrived at our camping spot only to discover that the tent we haven't opened in four years was actually a TWO person tent- not the four person tent I had imagined. So, with very little sleeping room, the four of us cuddled for two nights- Easton sleeping at the foot of the tent and Sailor crammed in between Tony and I.

There was a trail which started at our campsite and led to a valley, and then through a dense forest where it ended at a stream. we walked in the stream and did some yoga postures for instagram (of course). I nearly killed my whole family in order to get to a log that spanned both sides of the river (for said yoga pose). Whatevs.

On our second day we headed for Lost Lake. The 45 minutes of kids asking "are we there yet" was well worth it. Lost Lake Resort had everything we could have wanted for our day of adventure. We rented a canoe and crossed the entire lake, swam a bit in the ice cold lake, and bought ice cream at the General store. There's a hiking path which takes you around the entire lake, (about 3 miles or so), and lots of trails for more extensive hikes. The lake was clear and blue- and we were in heaven.

If it was up to me, we would have explored all of the waterfalls and swimming holes along the Columbia River Gorge, but alas, we didn't have the time to fit it all in. Next year, however, we'll be back!

From Mount Hood, we drove about three and a half hours to meet Tony's parents in Sun River. Sun River is a resort town, known for it's skiing in the winter and outdoor adventure in the summer. the house my in-laws rented was perfect for the six of us- it had a hot tub, bikes, and ping pong table! We went to the SHARC a huge pool and waterslide park, where we stayed all day, and took turns playing with the kids in the pool. Sailor loved the lazy river- him and i stayed in that thing for about two hours, slowly going round and round in know... being lazy.

Tony and I had a much needed day to ourselves, where we hiked along a waterfall for about five or six miles. we talked about work, family, yoga, and our new life here in the Pacific Northwest. We ate our Clif bars sitting on a bridge above the river, and made plans for the year to come. After our hike we found a restaurant in Bend, called The Laughing Cafe, where we ate bowels of Vegan AMAZINGNESS.

The Village at Sun River was fabulous, with little shops, an ice cream parlor, outdoor bounce houses for kids, and bumper cars! Easton did bumper cars about a thousand times, while sailor and I stood in line for the best ice cream I have ever tasted.

On this trip, the boys got to spend time with their grandparents, play in the hot tub every single day, explore a new city, and have daily adventures. I was able to go to Bikram Yoga in Bend (what a treat), and spent much needed quality time with the whole family. I ran over the boy's scooters with the car, went shopping (no sales tax!!!), and chatted late into the night with my mother in law (who i love dearly).

This was such a special trip, and we are looking forward to doing the EXACT same thing next year.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

notes on adventure: mount rainier national park

my God-sister and her family came to visit this weekend! it was a short trip, but we all had such a great time catching up and watching our sweet kids play together. katie, who is five years older than sailor, treated sailor like a little mama hen protecting her chick. she doted on him all weekend- it was so sweet to watch. 

we decided to head up to mount rainier on friday, to explore the mountain and do a little family friendly hiking! our first stop was paradise, where we got out of the car to enjoy a picnic lunch. we checked out the visitor center, where i must say, our tax dollars at put to great use! the center was big and beautiful, and park rangers were all over ready and willing to give us great hiking advise!

we walked up the mountain a bit, where we got some great pictures in the snow, let the kids get away with tossing a few snowballs our way, and were nearly blinded by the bright sun reflecting off of the snow (it's so obvious in the pictures that we could barley open our eyes up there).

after our quick playtime in the snow, we headed a little ways down the mountain and stopped at Longmire. the adults and kids had an equally amazing time hiking along the "path of shadows," where we were able to identify plants, discover 100+ year old cabins, and play in the bubbling water! the cool springs bubbled and the sulfur smell made us giggle (sailor said it smelled like "poop").

the park ranger gave each of our kiddos a book to fill out during our hike. they had to draw pictures of what they saw, write about their favorite sites at the park, and identify plants and animals. after the book was filled out, they took the Junior Park Ranger Oath, and were sworn in as Junior Park Rangers for Mt. Rainier National Park. (how cool is that?!) ps...look at them all raising their right hands!!!

i bought a little iron on patch for our backpack- we are collecting one from each national and state park (an idea i took from my very cool big sister). we drove to an ice cream shop in a tiny town outside of the park, where the ice cream was AMAZING and the town was so cool. old rainier train cars lined the streets, some were working restaurants and other looked like lodging (i would love to stay there someday). it was such a great day, exploring our mountain and hanging with family whom we love dearly.

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