Lakedale Resort

Do you ever want to visit a place where you can unplug? Where you can enjoy the great outdoors during the day and yet be able to come home to a few modern conveniences at night? A place where you can feel like a kid again either with or without your children? A quiet place where you can reconnect with your spouse? A place where you can enjoy quality time as a family or enjoy the serenity of nature alone? If you answered yes to any of these things, then Lakedale Resort is the place for you.

A couple of weeks ago Cameron and I packed an overnight bag, hopped on a ferry and spent a long weekend in the great outdoors enjoying beautiful scenery, delicious food and savoring every last minute of our time away together.  Over the weekend, I discovered a new found interest in tie dye, enjoyed the familiar scent of a campfire, partook in my first s'more of the season, savored my first grilled oyster, discovered the joys of glamping and enjoyed seeing the island from a different vantage point as we zipped around in a convertible two person coupe. 

Although we have visited San Juan Island numerous times, it felt like a completely new experience during our stay at Lakedale Resort. Lakedale Resort is an escape within an escape. We stayed in a luxurious canvas tent complete with hardwood floors, running water, electricity and a bathroom. Each morning we awoke to the sounds of birds chirping from our comfortable king size bed and as we exited our tent we were steps away from one of their three lakes.

Lakedale Resort is a unique property because they offer several different sleeping accommodations; from rental cabins to lodge rooms, primitive camping sites, an Airstream, canvas tents and luxurious canvas tents (what we stayed in). On their eighty three acre property we were able to feel like two kids at Summer camp minus the homesickness, bad food and endless mosquito bites. We pedaled around the lake in our pedal boat, played an oversized game of Jenga and chess, ate breakfast in the mess hall, learned how to tie dye and roasted oysters and s'mores over an open fire. 

My prized tie dye masterpiece. I will use this all Summer long to keep the mosquitos from buzzing in my ears while we hike, camp and kayak. 

The canvas tents skirting the lakeshore. 

The most beautiful and intricate looking water lily I have ever seen. 

There is no shortage of comfortable places to relax at Lakedale Resort and just enjoy the view. 

The main lodge overlooking Dream lake. 

You can rent a canoe, pedal boat or kayak by the hour for a very reasonable rate.

Each night they bring around a little package called "Toasty Toes" If you have never experienced using a hot water bottle to warm your sheets it is a thing of beauty. 

At Lakedale Resort they outfit each cabin with a cooler, lounge chairs, cooking utensils, one bundle of firewood, matches and an open fire pit. All you need is food, ice and you are all set to go glamping. 

A beautiful setting to enjoy comfy accommodations. 

The view each morning at breakfast from the Mess tent. 

The difference between glamping and camping is being able to have a fire and then go take a shower, wash your face, brush your teeth and fall into a comfy bed. Instead of when we go camping and we smell like camp fire, look a little grimy and wake up feeling stiff and tired. 

The view from our king size bed. 

The deck from the main Lodge. 

Lakedale Resort has several cabins which can be rented for either small or large groups. 

There is so much to see and do on San Juan Island that we didn't spend our whole time at Lakedale Resort. One afternoon we paid a visit to Westscott Bay Shellfish and brought back a bag of some of the largest oysters we have ever seen. We have never grilled oysters before so it was fun to watch they pop open with the heat. 

Lakedale Resort was such a fun place to get away to experience my first weekend glamping. Even though I am a big fan of primitive camping, I can see many more glamping weekends in my future. 

This post was sponsored by Lakedale Resort. All opinions stated here are my own and I was under no obligation to write anything other than my personal experience. I will never write about anything I did not enjoy or find to be a valuable experience. 

Bergen

On our recent trip to Norway we split our time between Olso and Bergen. Bergen is known as the gateway to the fjords and is truly a remarkable place to visit. Bergen is also the perfect place to use as your base for exploring Norway. From Bergen you can easily access the city, coast, and fjords for an all encompassing experience of Norway. Aside from prime location and breathtaking scenery at every turn Bergen also has a lot to offer in the way of culture and history. Our first stop in Bergen was the Tourist Information to pick up our Bergen card. The Bergen card gives you free or discounted admission to most of the city's museums, attractions, sightseeing, cultural events, bus travel and even parking! 

The Tourist Information is easy to find and conveniently located right above the Fish Market. From this building you will have a panoramic view of the harbor and the wharf. Inside you will find exhibitions on what to see and do in Bergen and the fjords and you will be able to book everything from train tickets to boat rides and hotel accommodations. You can even exchange many of the most common currencies here. Once you get all the information you need and plan your stay you can head downstairs and dine on some of the freshest seafood money can buy.  

The open air market down at the wharf gave us the opportunity to try the local cuisine as well as talk to many of the local shop keepers. We found everyone to be so kind and helpful and the people we met truly made the experience all the more memorable. 

Watching the boats come and go in the harbor was very reminiscent of our own bustling city- Seattle. We had no idea before we visited, but Bergen is a sister city to Seattle. 

The produce was fresh and plentiful and Jasper was eager to try it all. 

I think our entire trip Jasper either had a piece of food in his hand or in his mouth. Initially, I was worried about traveling with a little one, but the experiences we were able to share together as family were worth every minute of jet lag or crankiness. We learned a lot about traveling with a toddler and I give some of my best tips here based on our experience. 

Jasper checking out our bill at the Fish market. 

Rain or shine ice cream is always a good idea while on vacation!

Our son is currently obsessed with boats, so any reason we could find to be out on the water was a highlight for him. We took the water taxi to both the Fish Museum (free with the Bergen card) and the aquarium. We were able to have the boat to ourselves both times and getting there was an adventure in and of itself. 

The fish museum

The Fish Museum was a favorite of ours due to the creativity put into the exhibits and children's area. The museum is relatively small, but there was something for everyone which made for a fun afternoon. 

Since we stayed in this bright and airy apartment just outside the city center our car was our main mode of transportation. We were delighted when we discovered we could get discount parking throughout the city with our Bergen card

A delightful and filling lunch at the Fish Market. 

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This post was sponsored by the Bergen card. All opinions stated here are my own and I was under no obligation to write anything other than my personal experience. I will never write about anything I did not enjoy or find to be a valuable experience. 

Hiking with a toddler

Hiking can be tricky with a toddler. On most hikes it is a delicate balance between keeping them entertained, doing a hike that isn't overcrowded with other people and pushing them too far. The hiking back packs they make for children these days make for one comfy ride for them, but if your toddler is anything like ours he likes to get down and explore on his own two legs. We have taken Jasper on several dozen hikes and each time we learn a little something more to be better prepared next time. And if I had a dollar for every time someone said they wanted to be carried up the mountain in a back pack like we have for Jasper, I would be filthy rich! 

1. Know your limits. This not only applies for you, but them. If your child does not like to be contained for more than an hour or two then don't pick a hike where it will take six. If you can barely handle carrying your child around Target then maybe hiking with them on your back isn't the best idea. 

2.  Test it out- first. Go for a walk around the neighborhood with your gear on. Remember you will not only be carrying the weight of your child, but the weight of your pack and anything else you choose to bring. 

3. Get the right gear. Don't skimp on good gear for your child. The thought that they will only be sitting there is false thinking, your child needs rain proof, wind proof, sun proof more than you. 

4. When in doubt snack. I can't tell you how many times the only thing between us and a total meltdown is a bag of craisins. Often when we stop for lunch Jasper is too distracted by the scenery ie. sticks and rocks to pay much attention to the food we are trying to get him to eat. 

5. Keep your child contained. If possible, keep your child contained until they have had the chance to eat their lunch. It is much easier to get them to eat if they are sitting there then running around looking for the perfect stick. 

6.  Pick a safe, flat spot for all breaks. It is much more relaxing if Jasper is able to run around on a nice flat area instead of trying to maneuver over rocks and roots. Children want to be free, but they also need to be safe. 

7. Age appropriate. If Jasper had it his way he would walk along the trail at his leisure. However, we realize he is still too small for that and instead give him plenty of time to run around during our lunch break or at a park once we are finished with our hike. 

8. Throw the schedule to the wind. Typically on Saturdays, we know Jasper is going to miss his nap or take a shortened version of it in the backpack. Even if he sleeps forty minutes on the trail, that is forty minutes of blissful silence and restorative rest for him. We try not to stress about him missing his nap all together and usually end up putting him to bed a little earlier when he does. Something I have said time and time again is how important it is to not be a prisoner to your child or their schedule. They certainly need their sleep, but you also need some fun. 

9. Try, try and try again. Jasper like any toddler has his own opinions about things. Sometimes he will wear his hat, sometimes his sunglasses. Either way, we always try to get him to use these.

10. Don't forget the sunscreen. Even when it is cloudy it is important to put on your sunscreen. Also, unless it is super warm we put him in long pants for added protection. 

Scandic Vulkan

Scandic Vulkan

When planning our trip to Oslo we knew we wanted to stay somewhere fun, hip and with a local flair. Making certain there were cool places to eat and fun shops nearby was also very high on our priority list. So when I stumbled upon Scandic Vulkan it was a match made in heaven. The Scandic Vulkan is located in the up and coming Vulkan neighborhood, surprisingly the area and its recent growth reminded us a lot of Seattle. In just a two minute walk from the hotel you are inside arguably one of my favorite spots in Oslo- Mathallen OsloMathallen Oslo has an endless array of delicious things to eat and pretty things to look at. Eating out is admittedly one of our favorite things to do and food is consistently at the top of our souvenir list. 

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A weekend retreat on Silver Lake

A weekend retreat on Silver Lake

Over Memorial Day we rented this cabin through Mount Baker Lodging for the weekend. We had never visited Silver Lake before, but it was such a beautiful property I can foresee us visiting again and again. Although the weather was not fantastic while we visited, it encouraged us to take it easy and recharge after our trip to Europe. After a busy month of traveling it allowed us to get back on our schedules. Despite the weather we still managed to go on a short hike, visited the nearby state park, spent an afternoon in Bellingham and even did a little strawberry picking at a local farm. 

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72 hours in Olso

72 hours in Olso

When traveling with a toddler the first thing you might try to avoid is taking a city vacation. However, Oslo proved to be the perfect blend of natural beauty, history, and intrigue for the whole family. Both my husband and I love being close to the water and love to make it a point to learn a little bit about the history of the places we visit.  My son, Jasper, is currently obsessed with boats, so spending time down at the harbor, the Fram museum and the Viking museum were definite high points for him. 72 hours might not seem like a ton of time to explore a new city, but with the Olso Pass we were quickly able to create a game plan for our stay which involved museums, taking as much local transportation as possible, a few boat rides and a ton of walking. 

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Reykjavik

Reykjavik

Reykjavik will always be one of those places that feels like a friend; familiar and yet endlessly interesting. While we were in Iceland we spent a couple of days exploring the city. We enjoyed shopping in the brightest and cheeriest children's store called Iglo + Indi as they were incessantly patient with our enthusiastic little shopper, enjoying some of the best fish soup and fish and ships we have ever had in our lives at Reykjavik Fish and Chips, visiting Hallgr√≠mskirkja, and enjoying an ice cream break amidst all our wandering.  

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#mystopover

#mystopover

People are always a bit intrigued when we tell them we are going to visit Iceland again. And up until recently, Iceland has not been on the radar of most people as a tourist destination. The reason we continue to return to this beautiful place is also the quality I most appreciate about Iceland and that is: diversity. In one day, you are able to see glaciers, lava fields, bubbling sulfur pits, red rock hiking, icebergs, epic waterfalls, sandy beaches and one of the most adorable colorful little cities in Europe.

In my opinion, it is worth it to take advantage of the free stop over in Iceland from IcelandAir and check it out for a few days for yourself. The flight from Seattle to Iceland is a mere six and a half hours and gets you to Europe the fastest way I know how. On our flight to Iceland we even had the opportunity to fly there in Helka Aurora which is their new aircraft dressed up in the beautiful colors of an Icelandic winter landscape. Not only is the Boeing 757 wrapped, but the interior is illuminated with one-of-a-kind mood lighting to recreate the Aurora Borealis. 

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Bright and bold in Bergen

Bright and bold in Bergen

Vacations much like life are often punctuated with a few hiccups along the way. When our accommodations in Bergen fell through at the last minute I was elated when I found out this bright and airy apartment was still available. David, the owner, was easy to work with and was kind enough to procure a portable crib for us. Our entire experience from booking to staying was as lovely and laid back as his apartment.

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A modern home in South Iceland

A modern home in South Iceland

When planning our third trip to Iceland we knew we wanted to do things a little differently this time around. On our first trip to Iceland we spent ten days driving around the entire country. On our second trip, we made a quick stop over in Iceland before heading onto Amsterdam and Paris. This time we knew we wanted a home base to spend several days in one place. Since we were traveling abroad with a toddler for the first time we were uncertain how jet lag would treat him. The thought of a small hotel room while a toddler adjusted to a new time zone was not appealing. During my search for houses to stay in, I came across this beautifully modern home. At first glance, the covered outdoor space, idyllic location and wrap around deck immediately grabbed my attention. In addition, the house had three bedrooms which meant Jasper would be able to nap or go to bed early while we stayed up and enjoyed the sauna, hot tub or just relaxed.

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Do you shy away from the camera?

Do you shy away from the camera?

I know I am not alone when I say I have noticed myself starting to shy away from the camera. I do not by any means refuse to get in front of the camera, but I have noticed myself opting out more than I should. I often times feel silly things, like I don't look good enough for photos, I should loose a couple extra pounds, my roots are showing or any number of lame excuses. As the resident family photographer I have made a concerted effort over the past month to ask for my photo to be taken in particular with Jasper. I realize the importance of Jasper having photos of himself with me and I don't want Jasper growing up asking, "why is Mom not in the photos?"

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Raising boys

Raising boys

When it comes to raising boys people seem to have a lot to say. Many women I know accept or even condone rowdy or even bad behavior based on the simple fact that their child is a boy. Lately, I have found it interesting to witness certain almost inherent "male" traits coming out in Jasper. Although I have never taught Jasper to wildly wield a stick, throw rocks, or anything on wheels or in the sky he has a natural affinity for these things.

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The water taxi to downtown Seattle

The water taxi to downtown Seattle

With the viaduct closed for a couple of weeks we have decided to avoid the headache of traffic and stick closer to home on the weekends. Last weekend, we headed out on an adventure in the city. We hopped on the water taxi and within minutes were across the water and in the city. The weather was fantastic so our first stop was lunch down at Pier 56. After lunch, we made a leisurely stroll along the waterfront to the Olympic Sculpture Park. Afterwards, we made a quick stop at Pike Place Market to pick up provisions for dinner with friends. After grabbing a baguette, macaroons and a couple pounds of clams and mussels we headed back to the water taxi. Before we knew it we were back in West Seattle running around on the grass with Jasper and enjoying what felt like a lazy Summer afternoon. Such a perfect way to spend a hassle free day in the city.

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Lincoln Park, and my journey in motherhood

Lincoln Park, and my journey in motherhood

One of my very favorite spots in all of West Seattle is Lincoln Park. I have spent countless hours there running, walking, swimming, watching sunsets, having picnics, swinging, meeting up with friends and just being. Days after our first son, Asher, passed away when all my husband and I wanted to do was stay in bed, we made it a morning ritual after breakfast to go on a walk there. We would sit on the rocky shore, just us and our thoughts and write in our journals. In the coming months, I distinctly remember sitting on a park bench, a lump forming in my throat and tears filling my eyes every time a woman walked past with her newborn baby. The pain was so real, so vast, it felt like happiness was no longer an option.  When I compared myself to others I didn't know their story or their pain, all I could see was my own. 

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Half birthdays and celebrating everyday life

Half birthdays and celebrating everyday life

A few weeks ago Jasper turned eighteen months old. It is hard to believe this little guy has stolen our hearts and been the center of our universe for already a year and a half now. On the eve of his half birthday, my parents came over for dinner and to celebrate our little guy. The night before I decided to make a little construction cake for our construction obsessed son. His three favorite words are currently, "dig, dig, dig" 

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The Commons

The Commons

While visiting Woodinville the other week we stumbled upon this lovely brunch spot called The Commons. As soon as we stepped foot into this bustling space I was in love. From the light and bright interior to the piles of pastries under large glass domes, this spot is well appointed in every way. Once our food came we were delighted with an explosion of flavors. Although this place is a little out of our normal routine, it is definitely the type of place worth visiting again and again.

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Beach time and my favorite parks around the city

Beach time and my favorite parks around the city

In general, I try to pack as light as possible. In my beach bag I like to pack the following: sun hat, flip flops, a sarong which can double as a blanket to sit on and a towel, sunscreen, a variety of snacks, a small plastic bucket and a large water bottle. I have found the more I bring, the more stressed I feel about keeping track of it all. When you are out in nature, more toys generally does not equate to a better time. Also, unless Jasper is going swimming I do not bother to put him in his swimsuit or swim diaper. I find it to not be worth the hassle and most of his Summer clothes are quick dry anyways. 

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Dating your husband and fostering your own interests as a mother

Dating your husband and fostering your own interests as a mother

People closest to me know my idea of relaxation is being active outdoors. Given the choice between doing anything else, I will always choose to be outside.  It is not that I am a fitness fanatic rather I gain strength from fresh air and beautiful surroundings. I love a long walk with a friend, a solo run, camping, and kayaking. Once our son was born and my free time was heavily diminished I quickly realized whenever Jasper spent the night at my parent's I always preferred a restless night under the stars over a good night's rest in my own bed. Although intuitively this did not make much sense, the time spent together devoid of all other distractions strengthened my marriage and in turn my ability to be an even better mother. When you have something good in your life it is important to both nurture it and share it with others. My husband and my children are the greatest blessings in my life and both relationships need to be fostered and cared for. 

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