Washington Park Arboretum in the Winter

It is easy to think in the middle of Winter that everything is brown and dead at the Washington Park Arboretum, but with our temperate climate nothing could be farther from the truth. The Washington Park Arboretum has 230 acres of land with a wide assortment of plants, many found nowhere else. The Washington Park Arboretum is operated jointly by the University of Washington and the City of Seattle and is immaculately taken care of. There is a beautiful camellia garden bursting with different shades of pink and white and the crocuses are beginning to pop up along with the magnolia trees getting their flower buds. It is a fragrant time of year too and if I knew a bit more about flowers I could tell you exactly what I was smelling. The other fantastic part of Winter at the Arboretum is that its relatively vacant in comparison to Spring and Summer, so if you don't mind donning a warm coat and hat you can have the place pretty much to yourself. 

Jasper had a wonderful time showing off his walking skills and my mama heart was so proud to see his progress in the past week I couldn't help but keep smiling from ear to ear. 

Between the birds, the boats, the flowers and the trails there is something for everyone to enjoy during an afternoon at Washington Park Arboretum. 

Lunch date to Oddfellows

Lunch date to Oddfellows

All of the sudden my little baby has turned into a walking, talking, dog loving, board book aficionado and I could not be prouder. Just when I think he has reached the best age, a month goes by and he becomes even more delightful. Last week, as I was admiring how his new haircut made him look older I reflected on the past fifteen months. Often, it is hard to imagine what life was like prior to his arrival. He fills my days with laughs, giggles, smiles and the occasional display of independence. It is an honor to have a front row seat to see the person he is going to become, to be his safe haven and the recipient of his endless affection.  He is the friendliest, most outgoing guy I know and for as little as he is he has a heart the size of an elephant. 

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General Porpoise

General Porpoise

For months I have seen enticing photos of General Porpoise all over Instagram.  One Saturday morning, Jasper and I finally visited to see what all the hype was about. What we found when we arrived was a light and bright interior, friendly staff, tantalizing favors, delicious donuts and about one million other reasons we will be returning again soon. The moment we sat down at the counter and I gave Jasper his Vanilla Custard doughnut he was all business about devouring it. It was like he couldn't believe his good fortune in getting such a special treat all to himself. Little did he know I was silently savoring my Chocolate Marshmallow all to myself too. I love how social media has helped create a buzz of support for these little places dotted around the city. We can't wait to return and try all the other flavors very soon.

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Happy birthday to my everything

Happy birthday to my everything

There aren't really words to describe my feelings for my husband, Cameron. If you made a list of every quality I lack these would be the very qualities which describe him. He is patient, kind, slow to anger, forgiving, flexible, easy to get along with, funny, generous and laid back. He has helped me carve out a life that is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. We adventure, dream, laugh, act silly, often stay up way too late, make plans and fiercely love each other and our children. He makes life a joy to live and makes every day special. 

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Rainy mornings at the Seattle Aquarium

Rainy mornings at the Seattle Aquarium

As of late, we have made a concerted effort to use of our Seattle Aquarium membership. When we purchased it I thought we would go all the time, but before we know it months have gone by and we are missing out on all the fun happenings at the aquarium. On any given day there are animal presentations, scheduled feedings and tank dives. In the handful of times we have visited we have seen both the octopus and otters feed, been able to touch a sea anemone or two, watched a scuba diver dance, feed the fish and give Jasper a high five and have learned more about fish and water mammals than I ever knew before. I know taking a toddler downtown can often be a bit of a hassle, but the expression on Jasper's face when he happily plays in the tide pools, or is a bit caught off guard when the seals swim is not something I can replicate at home. The Seattle Aquarium also offers Toddler Time a few times a month and I am looking forward to taking him one of these days. 

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A staycation at the Palladian

A staycation at the Palladian

I have recently learned the joys associated with a staycation. I used to think in order for it to be considered a "real" vacation it needed to include a plan ride or a long drive. Now, especially as a parent to a small child; I understand vacations in a broader sense. A vacation can consist of a day or two away and all that needs to occur is a break from your normal routine. Basically, it is the adult equivalent to a child getting a day off from school and really just a good excuse to play hooky. A few days ago, my husband and I packed a small suitcase, sent our sweet little boy off to Grandma's and Grandpa's and for a couple days and enjoyed the perks of hotel living at The Palladian and being a tourist in our own town. 

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Ebey's Landing

Ebey's Landing

As the sun hung low in the sky we set out on the Ridge Trail which intersects with the Bluff Trail at Ebey's Landing. We walked the picturesque half mile through rolling farmland to the bluff where we watched the sun quickly dip below the horizon. Watching the sunset in the Winter always feels like a rare treat for a number of reasons, but primarily because the skies are usually shrouded with thick gray clouds and because it occurs so early in the day it is easy to miss.  

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edit.

edit.

A few weeks ago I stumbled across the most charming little shop in Langley called edit. I know we are often told to not judge a book by its cover or a store by its storefront, but I was immediately drawn into the space from the curb. Upon stepping into edit.it was as if someone had hand picked the items specifically for me. Every item was so thoughtfully curated, each with its own purpose, and beauty. It is rare I can enter a shop and find something for myself, my fourteen month old son and my husband, but at edit. this occurred. 

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Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls

Some days the weather is crazy here. One minute it is pouring rain, the next sunshine and then wait another minute and a strong gust of wind will hit you in the face. Sporadic pretty much summed up the weather this past weekend which repeatedly shut down Snoqualmie Pass and halted our plans for a Saturday of snowshoeing. As a last minute change of plans we decided to spend an afternoon exploring closer to home by hiking down to Snoqualmie Falls followed by brunch at the Salish Lodge. The trail down to the falls is only one mile round trip so it is an easy hike even for little ones.  

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A mountain getaway with Glampinghub.com

A mountain getaway with Glampinghub.com

Awhile back I mentioned we were partnering with Glamping Hub for a little family adventure. We finally went on our adventure and stayed in a modern cabin in the woods. We enjoyed the solitude and location of our cabin, but most importantly the time we spent together as a family. Our time there reminded us how we feel most alive surrounded by trees and breathing in the fresh mountain air, but also how we hope to one day have a cabin of our own nestled in the woods.

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Vancouver Lookout

Vancouver Lookout

Vancouver Lookout is the perfect place to visit while you are in Vancouver, BC. Being up so high with a 360 degree view you are able to easily get your bearings of the city and visually plan out the rest of your visit. We could not decide if we wanted to visit the Vancouver Lookout during the day or at night, so we decided to visit at dusk. As a result, we were able to watch the city turn from day to night and catch one of the loveliest sunsets from the lookout. 

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Snowshoeing at Cypress Mountain

Snowshoeing at Cypress Mountain

One of our primary reasons for visiting Vancouver was to go snowshoeing. There isn't one, but three fantastic places to go snowshoeing all within twenty minutes from the city.  However, between getting late starts each day and the extra holiday traffic we were only able to visit Cypress Mountain this time. On the day we were up there the glorious sunshine and blue skies combined with a fresh dumping of snow made for one heavenly day. The snow shoe route we took was one of those straight up the entire way. When we are out snowshoeing I am always thoroughly impressed with Cameron's ability to carry our heavy son on his back. He never complains and makes it look so easy. I am reminded time and time again how much fresh mountain air and family time is good for the soul. I am continually grateful for these two adventurous dudes and how much they make every single day special.

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OPUS Vancouver- the perfect getaway from Seattle

OPUS Vancouver- the perfect getaway from Seattle

After Christmas, we were excited to spend time in one of our favorite cities- Vancouver, B.C. Although it had been a couple years since we last visited I was reminded how much I love Vancouver and the diversity of its surrounding neighborhoods. I like to think of Vancouver as the hip, more refined and established older sister to Seattle. Whatever characteristics I like about Seattle it seems Vancouver has in greater abundance or accessibility. My two great loves are the water and the mountains. Vancouver like Seattle has both, but in Vancouver the mountains are so easily accessible from the city it makes me envious. 

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My little helper

My little helper

As many of you know, our first son, Asher's due date was Christmas day. This year we were suppose to find out the gender of our third child the week of Christmas, but an unfortunate miscarriage in October put an end to that. Ever since Asher passed away I have made it a tradition to make tiny little wreaths to put around our house during the holidays to remember him by. Initially, it was a good way for me to channel my sadness during that first Christmas. I distinctly remember that first Christmas when we so painfully felt the loss of our first born- I had a realization where I finally realized why some people could carry such disdain for the holidays.  In subsequent years, it has become a symbol of his ever important presence in our family and now the missed presence of yet another child. These little wreaths are also a good reminder to keep the holidays simple and provide a gentle nudge to focus on what really matters. The first year I made these because I was too grief stricken to do much in the way of Christmas decorating, but since then these little wreaths have brought me a lot of happiness and peace as I look at them each day whether it be in the bathroom, bedroom or on the refrigerator.  

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Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

There is nothing more magical than witnessing the excitement of a small child- Christmas this year was no exception. Jasper is the perfect age to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas without having any expectations for what the season might hold. Christmas morning was spent at home as a family of three and then later in the afternoon at my parent's home. My parent's home is the epitome of every child's dream with each room thoughtfully decorated and lavish meals abounding with food and flavor. Jasper, just like his parents are always impressed and inspired when we visits Grandma's and Grandpa's home.

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Life in photos lately

Life in photos lately

There is nothing quite like celebrating the holidays with a small child. The wonder and awe even a single strand of lights provides is a good reminder that Christmas time needn't be busy, over scheduled or expensive to be enjoyable- in fact it is more enjoyable if it is none of those things. This year I have tried my best to keep things simple. We forewent getting a large Christmas tree and instead invited our favorite little tree inside for a couple of weeks. This year I have not bought very many gifts, left most of our Christmas decorations in their box and spent very little time at the mall. Instead I made a simple advent calendar and we have been filling our evenings with hot cocoa, impromptu dance parties, walks and drives to look at the Christmas lights and even a Christmas movie or two once Jasper goes to bed. 

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Argosy Christmas Ships

Argosy Christmas Ships

Each Christmas season we make it a point to go on the Christmas Ships. We have left from Kirkland, Pier 55, and Shilshoe Bay. Each year we can count on a chilly night on the water, festive music blaring in our ears and lots of beautiful Christmas lights. This year, same as last year we left from Shilshoe Bay. We made our way through the Ballard Locks and then over to Golden Gardens. Since it was a clear night, there were a good number of parade boats following behind the Christmas Ship. Most of the parade boats were sailboats which had christmas lights strung over their lines. Being out on the water surrounded by lights and music felt like a quintessential Christmas in the northwest kind of night. 

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Christmas shopping for our little mountain man

Christmas shopping for our little mountain man

For anyone who has a small child it probably feels like every day is Christmas. Small children are constantly outgrowing, wearing out or in need of something and Christmas is just a good excuse to wrap up all those adorable gifts you have been stock piling over the past few months. It might just be me, but when it is small it is cute and when it is cute I am tempted to snatch it up. A long time ago I saw a good idea to give your child three gifts for Christmas; something to wear, something to play with and something to read. I really liked this idea as a good starting point for my Christmas shopping and if I had more self control that would be all I was buying. Instead, I remind myself Jasper will only be little once and he will only be able to fit into tiny plaid shirts and coonskin caps while roasting marshmallows over his play fire for so long. 

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Wandering through the snow

Wandering through the snow

During the Winter I am constantly checking the weather report up in the mountains. If we receive substantial snowfall during the week then we make it a point to head up to the mountains on Saturday. Saturdays have traditionally been our day set aside for being together as a family and having fun. I am not a fan of chores, errands or work on Saturdays and I avoid it at all costs. I once read an article which stated from the time your child is born until the time they turn eighteen you have 940 Saturdays. Particularly now that we have Jasper I want to make the most of these days and give him memories of hikes, camping trips, catching snowflakes on our tongues and enjoying picnics by the water. During the week in between work, laundry, and to do lists I try my best to squeeze in the chores and errands. 

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The every day

The every day

It is in the quiet moments I find the most joy as a mother. When I enter my son's room to get him from his crib after his nap and I see his beaming face and outstretched arms or the moment he stops crawling and looks backward to make certain I am going to chase him or when he rubs his tired little eyes and rests his head on my shoulder for a few seconds. Those are the moments, the moments I want to engrave on my heart. The past few months, I have made a conscious effort to pick up my camera more often to capture these small, but important moments in our lives. 

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