Weekend Adventures: Island hopping

We are fortunate to live near hundreds of islands, but the thought has never really occurred to me to go island hopping for the day. Usually, we have a destination in mind and the ferry is the means to get there, this time we decided to try something we had never done before and go island hopping. We knew we could head to Vashon Island and then hop on over to Tacoma but we have never done so. We live so close to the Vashon Island ferry within minutes we were cruising across the water and heading toward our island adventure. No traffic, no waits, perfection on a sunny Saturday with an antsy toddler in the back seat. 

Although he is just two years old, Jasper is becoming such a little man. I love he walks with his hands behind his back and is eager to absorb his new surroundings. 

Once we arrived on Vashon Island we made a quick pit stop at Snapdragon Cafe for some treats to take the beach. Their pastries are GIGANTIC and so delicious it is easy to eat a scone the size of your hand. 

Point Robinson park is one of our favorite spots on Vashon Island. We enjoyed a morning of treats , rock throwing and sunshine. 

Winter is one of our favorite times to visit the beach. The crowds are thin and this photo captures what a busy day looks like. It is not hard to have a large section of the beach to yourself. 

Dad is always where the fun is at. Cameron was showing Jasper how to play baseball with a stick and a few rocks. So impressive to our little guy!

After a fun morning on Vashon we hopped on the ferry and headed to Tacoma for a late afternoon walk at Point Defiance Park and an early dinner at Anthony's. Anthony's has a prime location, stunning views and if we time it right we never have to wait to be seated. 

Winter days like these just beg to be spent outside. Mount Rainier was center stage on our ferry ride down south. 

It is so fun to mix things up on a Saturday and head somewhere for the day rather than go snowshoeing. The time we spend together as a family on Saturdays is priceless to me and will be the days I will always remember. Saturdays are my favorite day of the week and the punctuation mark to my life with these handsome guys. 

A little hope of Spring: Pike Place Market

It is easy to forget about places like Pike Place Market when it is cold outside and rainy days become the norm. However, Pike Place Market is still a vibrant, thriving market place even when the thermometer drops. The biggest appeal once the crowds thin are you can easily find a parking space and you are no longer elbow to elbow with tourists. In between appointments we made a quick pit stop at Pike Place Market for the essentials: Ellenos yogurt, a bag of fresh green grapes, a couple apples and a bouquet of fresh flowers. Most importantly, amidst the fresh produce and tchotchkes I was able to find a little hope of Spring.  Often when I think about heading downtown I can talk myself out of it. However, these type of spontaneous trips remind me how much richer life is when we approach life with a little bit of wonder and fill each day with adventures that make our heart sing. 

Out and About with Kids: Never give up!

After a tough day of snowshoeing with Jasper a couple weeks ago we both felt like throwing in the towel on future trips this Winter. However, later that week we were able to take him and have such a fun time. At the spot where we took our break Jasper insisted on me lifting him high in the sky over and over again. All while telling Cameron "one more cheese" meaning take another photo please. There are so many highs and lows when it comes to parenting, a happy day on the trail is such a high for me! One of my New Year's Resolutions is to get out from behind the camera more often and these photos of Jasper and I are such treasures to me. 

Every time we go snowshoeing I feel like I need to pinch myself that we live in such a beautiful place. It feels like pure magic when we are walking amongst these snow covered trees. 

Being active as a family is such an important thing to me. I want Jasper to grow up knowing eating healthy and working out is part of the routine and is intrinsic to life. 

Best places to eat in San Francisco

Best places to eat in San Francisco

When we go on a city vacations the food is always what gets us the most excited to get out of bed in the morning.  The best part of traveling to a world class city like San Francisco is there are always more places we want to eat than meals in a day. Especially now that we have a perpetually hungry toddler, our city vacations go a little something like this: walk, eat, sleep, repeat. 

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Out and about with kids: The perfect day "date" with your little valentine

Out and about with kids: The perfect day "date" with your little valentine

Last year I came to the realization of how wonderful Volunteer Park is for little ones. Volunteer park is diverse and spacious with plenty of room to run around, things to look at (from the sculptures to the water tower) and spots to picnic at. One of my favorite places in Volunteer Park is the children's playground which we often find empty and has a designated area for little ones. Between the Volunteer Park Conservatory, the open spaces, the playground and Volunteer Park Cafe nearby it makes for the perfect morning out with your little one, best friend or mother.

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Flying with children

Flying with children

I always appreciate hearing different point of views on parenting because usually that means I can find something which resonates with me. Traveling with kids was one of those big question marks for my husband and I. We had traveled extensively before having children and we weren't certain how it would be after having them. It wasn't until my son was 1.5 years old that we took the leap of faith and brought him on his first flight. However, in his first year and a half of life we did a lot of traveling starting when he was just shy of two months old. I remember the first time we packed the car with baby stuff and we were like. "Wow, this is a lot of stuff for one tiny person!" In that first year and a half of his life we went to the coast, the mountains, the city and everywhere in between. Although we did not fly anywhere we took him on a ton of road trips and learned loads about how to keep a baby and then eventual toddler entertained while in the car. 

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Out and About with Kids: Snowshoeing at Snoqualmie Pass

Out and About with Kids: Snowshoeing at Snoqualmie Pass

The one question I get asked the most often is "how do you keep a toddler happy while you are hiking/snowshoeing?" Aside from my amazing husband who willingly carries our little heavy weight around the answer is pretty simple, sometimes we do and other times we don't. Early on we decided we did not want to stop doing the things we love because we had children. That being said we have had to curtail the length and frequency of our hikes in addition to having our moments where we question why we brought him along in the first place.

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Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

Up until our most recent trip to San Francisco I had spent very little time in Golden Gate Park. Now, it is pretty much the one place I want to spend all my time when I visit San Francisco. There is so much to see and do in Golden Gate Park from the De Young Museum, to the Japanese Garden, California Academy of Sciences, Stow Lake and the Old Dutch windmill to name just a few. Golden Garden Park reminds me a little bit of Central Park largely in part because they both feel like a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city. As you walk throughout the park there is so much to look at and enjoy from gardens, to fountains, pathways and even an ice cream truck here or there. 

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Out and about with kids: Best places to take children in San Francisco

Out and about with kids: Best places to take children in San Francisco

When traveling with children it is important to do three things: lower your expectations for the amount of ground you can cover in one day (one big activity per day is the goal), make the earliest dinner reservations you can (usually right when they open for dinner ie. 5pm) so you can eat at trendy/fun/popular/nice places without feeling like you are crashing the party. This way you never have to wait for a meal or worse yet roam around the streets looking for a place to eat. Lastly, make certain to give your children plenty of time to run around and be free. Once you have realistic expectations for traveling as a family and they have the freedom to be kids your trip will go almost as smoothly as those pre children vacation days.

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Christmas in San Francisco

Christmas in San Francisco

This year for Christmas we did a little something different and went on a vacation just the three of us. We had a wonderful time exploring one of our favorite cities and soaking up as much sunshine as possible. Upon arrival, we made a quick stop at the farmer's market for greenery for wreaths, Britex for ribbon and CB2 for some twinkle lights. Within a couple of hours I was able to put together a simple, yet festive environment for our stay.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Today, we are slowly getting back into the swing of things after a nice, long sunny holiday in San Francisco. We lucked out with a streak of warm weather and sunshine while we were there which resulted in entire days spent outside, zipping around the city by foot, bus, street car or trolley. Eating almost every meal outside and basking in every possible ray of sunlight. It was so nice to get a break from the cold and the rain. When we arrived home to a dusting of snow and then spent the following day in the mountains I was reminded real life isn't so bad either. 

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Cookie Decorating Party

Cookie Decorating Party

This year we hosted our first annual Cookie Decorating party. I have wanted to host one of these for awhile, but Jasper's recent enthusiasm for baking encouraged me to finally do so this year. We kept the guest list short and made stacks of delicious gingerbread ahead of time. We had a fun filled morning with friends and I was reminded how lucky we are to have such wonderful friends. The amount of joy seen on these children's faces while they were chasing each other around or decorating cookies made all my efforts feel so worthwhile. Children are the best and watching your friend's children grow to love your own children is truly the best!

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Trimming a tree

Trimming a tree

Every family does their Christmas tree shopping a little differently. Some people like tall trees, some people like short fat trees and other people like to find the saddest little tree they can and bring it home. Some families go to tree lots, tree farms, out in the woods, nurseries or even the grocery store. When Cameron and I were dating we selected our tree based on price, ease and convenience. We found the best looking tree the closest to Cameron's apartment and walked it home. Once we were married we continued this tradition for several years until we moved to a different place. That year, the closest place with trees for sale was Home Depot and once again we continued the tradition of walking our tree home. The following year we lived in a condo which was located near our local nursery and for a couple years we walked our tree home, shoved it in the elevator, took it for a ride up six floors to our place leaving a trail of pine needles as we went. Once we were in our house for the first time in our life we drove our tree home. After moving into our new home last year we decided to keep things simple and selected a tree we could easily put in the back of our car. Even though our beloved nursery delivers there is something so gratifying in selecting a tree, bringing it home and decorating it in one evening. Over the years, our Christmas trees keep getting smaller and smaller, but I think that is in large part because we are partial to the small and slightly chubby type. This year since we will be out of town for Christmas we decided to forgo getting a tree, but the Christmas spirit and one enthusiastic little boy quickly changed my mind about that. 

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Out and About with Kids: A day at the zoo

Out and About with Kids: A day at the zoo

Even though we have an annual membership to the zoo we tend to visit rather infrequently. Although I like the idea of my child being able to see animals he might not normally see, I oftentimes leave the zoo with mixed emotions. On some visits all the animals are sleeping and I always worry they are depressed or unhappy living in such cramp quarters. About a month ago, we visited the zoo and had a fun filled afternoon watching many active and seemingly happy animals. The penguins and hippos were the highlight of the day, but riding the carousel is always Jasper's favorite part. 

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Keeping gift giving simple

Keeping gift giving simple

For years, my husband and I have not exchanged Christmas gifts. I am not entirely certain when we decided to do this, but it has taken a lot of stress out of the holidays. Rather than run ourselves ragged in search of the perfect gift for each other we realized we preferred to spend our money traveling, eating out or doing something fun together. As we have taken the focus off of gift giving for ourselves, I would also like to pass this idea onto our son.

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Out and About with Kids: A snow day

Out and About with Kids: A snow day

When you live in Seattle it is not very often that it snows. Last week, we were blessed to wake up to not only one, but two snow days. It was so exciting it felt like Christmas had come early. It was the perfect day to cut the tags off of Jasper's new snow bibs and break them in. Once we were bundled up we headed out for our snowy adventure. Sadly, on both days the snow quickly turned to rain and like most wonderful moments in life, it was a bit short lived. 

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Holiday preparations

Holiday preparations

There is no denying this time of year is a busy one. This year, in an effort to savor the season rather than run ourselves ragged we have tried to limit our evening commitments and instead save our energy for the things which really matter. Instead of focusing our time, efforts and money on searching for the perfect gifts to give we are trying to focus on being together, making memories and remembering the Savior. Jasper has reached the age where he is equally interested in learning about Santa as he is Jesus so this year seemed like a good time to start learning about why we really celebrate Christmas. Over the past few weeks, our home has perpetually been filled with scents of warm gingerbread and pine and I keep thinking to myself, surely Christmas is here. Nope, with Thanksgiving a little early this year we just got a head start. 

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Dating my husband

Dating my husband

Before we had children my husband and I would joke everything we did was a "date". Since having children the word "date" evokes a whole bunch of excitement and anticipation. Since most of our interests revolve around outdoor activities or food, our favorite activities to do when we are childless usually involve going on a hike or going to check out a new restaurant. Jasper has reached the age where he is no longer equally enchanting with long hikes or leisurely meals so we happily plan to do these things without him when we get the chance. Last weekend, we went on our inaugural snowshoeing trip and it was a good reminder to me just how important it is to nurture your relationship with your spouse in all seasons of life. 

It was a snowy day at Snoqualmie Pass so we enjoyed a beautiful hike up to Snow Lake. There is something so peaceful about feeling like you walking around in a snow globe. One day, I dream of owning a little cabin up in the mountains. But until then, our Saturdays hikes will have to hold me over. 

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Mount Baker cabin

Mount Baker cabin

Nestled amongst a mossy forest, there is cabin high up in the mountains. It is close to a few modern necessities, but with greenery out every window it feels like you are miles away from everyone else. A few stormy weekends ago, we stayed at this cabin and enjoyed an adventure filled weekend in the mountains. Most notable were the homemade treats, cozy fires and experiencing our first snow fall of the season. If you are looking for a laid back weekend where your family can relax and you can skip your list of chores and errands then this is the place. 

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Out and About with Kids: The Teddy Bear Suite

Out and About with Kids: The Teddy Bear Suite

Last year, we stumbled upon the Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmount Olympic Hotel Seattle during our staycation. This year we made it a point to check it out again while we were downtown on Black Friday. This year marks the nineteenth anniversary of the Teddy Bear Suite. As a curious toddler, Jasper was very enthusiastic about the teddy bears and spent our entire visit repeatedly saying "teddy bear". Since he surprisingly does not own any teddy bears (just other kind of animals) I did not know he could even say teddy bear.  It is so fun to see his little spirit develop and how freely he gives of his love and excitement to all he encounters whether that be a mail truck or a room full of teddy bears.  

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