A weekend in Leavenworth

Last weekend, we headed to Leavenworth for some hiking, a little bit of relaxation, and a much needed change of scenery. Every once and awhile I crave a new landscape, so last weekend we packed up the car and headed east of the mountains. I am always amazed at how different the landscape is just a couple hundred miles away from our home. It reminds me there is so much still to explore in my own backyard. 

As a parent of a busy toddler I am always impressed with the crazy ideas Jasper comes up with. This time while we were sitting at the top of a mountain he got the brilliant idea to throw large handfuls of dirt. Aside from the large dust plumes he was creating, it was fun to see how into the whole idea he was. Covered in dust and with laser focus he shot putted each fist of dirt and then laughed at how clever the whole things was. He was so in the moment and joyful that after a good ten or fifteen minutes I almost did not have the heart to tell him to stop. 

We stayed at the Sleeping Lady which is a gorgeous property located close to town. Since Sleeping Lady provides dinner and breakfast there was no need for us to battle the crowds from Oktoberfest and go into town. 

Jasper loved riding in the cart with our luggage to our room. It really is the little things which bring children the most joy!

We loved spending a little time at Sleeping Lay's garden. It is fun to get ideas of things to plant and how to beautify our own garden. 

After checking out we drove to Wenatchee and then Quincy, WA. It was fun to see the rolling hills and farmlands and we even happened upon a little farm stand which sold milkshakes. 

We made a quick stop at a small family run farm in Quincy for peppers and pumpkins, but the boys were only interested in the farm equipment. 

We made one last stop at the Columbia Gorge for rock throwing and then called it a day and headed home. 

Photographing the every day moments

Although I am constantly taking photos of Jasper I do not think there will ever come a time when he is grown that I will declare, "Geeh, I wished I wouldn't have taken so many photos of him" It is easy to remember to snap photos of him when we are out and about, but I am trying my best to make a conscious effort to capture him in his every day element. Like when he wakes up from a nap and is super playful and expressive. Also, there are so many things I want to remember about him in the here and now that taking a few photos will help jog my memory later on. For starters, I want to remember his gorgeous sun kissed skin and bleached blond hair from all our Summer adventures. I want to remember how tenderly kissed his animals good night when he thinks they should be resting or how he always wakes up happy and smiling. I even want to remember how he refuses to have his nails trimmed and ends up scratching his face by accident. The transformation from newborn to baby to toddler has been a remarkable and awe inspiring thing to watch. I can't wait to see what the next two years will bring. 

When life changes forever

Sometimes I find myself head down immersed in my own life when out of nowhere something happens and it causes me to pause and look up. Last week we lost a dear friend suddenly. Over the past week, I have spent an inordinate amount of time reflecting on my own life in a way I have not done for awhile. 

When I think of our friend, Steve, I think of a man who was kind, generous and who acted like he was always on vacation. When we would go out to eat he always ordered one of everything that sounded good and made certain we always got dessert. When you were around Steve he made you feel loved and at at ease, it was easy to temporarily forget your worries, and feel as though everything was right in the world even when it wasn't. 

I always got the impression from Steve all he needed to be happy was a good meal and his loving wife. He never felt the need to boast about himself, but the one person he was always eager to talk about was his son. I cannot think of a boy who was more loved by his parents than Brian. 

In life, it is easy to find friendly people, but it is much harder to find friends. Steve and his wife will always be some of our favorite people. They will forever remain on our short list of people we want to vacation with, take to our favorite restaurants and the people who we wanted to tell our good and bad news to first. When life got us down we knew they were always in our corner. They knew our flaws and loved us in spite of them. The moment Cameron called me to tell me Steve had passed away I will forever be changed. Lynn and Steve have always been our role models, the type of couple we aspire to be. They loved life, each other and made the most of their time together. Although they did not have the perfect marriage, they were real and their love shined through even when they were driving each other crazy. 

For now we are left with photos and beloved memories. The dinners where we were so engrossed in our conversation we would loose track of time, the competitive game nights, the crazy adventures we embarked on together and most cherished those times we laughed and cried together. Life is better with good friends and we are fortunate to have called Steve our friend. 

The Washington State Fair

It has been an annual tradition to attend the Washington State Fair for as long as I can remember. First with my parents, then with my friends and now with my own little family. At the fair, there are so many things to see, do and eat. This year, the thing which captivated my attention the most was an adorable little boy in a pair of denim overalls. Jasper was such a joy to watch as he "carefully" petted baby animals, danced every time he heard music and rode his very first ride all by himself. There are endless pros to being tall (so I am told) and being able to ride all the rides in the little kid area is definitely one of them. 

We started our morning at the fair with a scone, went home mid day so Jasper could nap and then ended the evening with an ice cream cone. All, in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday. 

IMG_5952.jpg

Jasper checking out our photos from the photo booth. 

Had this little tractor been for sale, we probably would have bought it on the spot. When it comes to Jasper we are totally suckers like that!

It was fun to check out the fair during the day and then again that night, it was a totally different vibe. 

There was baby EVERYTHING. Baby pigs, baby chicks etc. 

Jasper trying Dole Whip for the first time. He loved it!

It was so fun being able to take Jasper on some rides. He is big enough he can ride all the tame ones, which meant a lot of spinning in a circle and laughing out loud. Being a parent is the best! I know I will look back at this time in my life as the most exhausting, but the most exhilarating. I am grateful every. single. day. for this little guy. Whether it be the elderly lady at church or the carnival worker at the fait, he is a light to everyone he meets!

Our week in Arizona

Arizona can be a VERY hot place in the Summer, but when you know you are only going to be there for a short time it is easy to embrace the heat and enjoy the beauty of the desert landscape. On our recent visit to Arizona our biggest criteria in finding a rental house was that it had a pool. Not only did we find a house with a pool, but it had two outdoor fireplaces, an outdoor television, a pool table and two outdoor seating areas. One of my favorite parts about Arizona aside from all the different varieties of cacti is the fact that people who live here actually own a whole wardrobe of bathing suits. As a Pacific Northwest native, the very idea of wearing a bathing suit more than once a year is a pretty exhilarating prospect.

The house we rented was a bit larger than we needed, but it was nice to have the extra room. From our rental house in Scottsdale, it was around a twenty minute drive to almost everything we wanted to visit during our stay. 

It does not matter how many times I visit. I can never get over how parched the land is. 

Waking up and being able to walk outside and go swimming was such a dream!

Cameron working hard on grilling up our pizzas. We quickly found out using a pizza oven is a little tricker than we initially thought it might be. However, it was fun being able to try it out while we were there. 

When you are done, you are done. A combination of skipped naps and new surroundings made for a cranky Jasper at times. Even though it does not look like it, Jasper really enjoyed getting to know his other grandpa and playing with his uncle. 

Relaxing in the pool.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is trying the local cuisine. Paletas Betty was on my list of must visit places. 

Our entire trip consisted of endless days of blue skies and sunshine. 

IMG_5642.jpg

Papago Park

I have a lot of fond memories from our trip, but seeing the sweet relationship develop between Jasper and Nicole was one of my favorites. 

One evening, we rented a pontoon boat and cruised around Tempe Lake. Jasper was insistent on driving the boat, which meant for a time we went around in a circle until we were all dizzy. 

I used to think I had a pretty good name, but hearing this sweet boy call me "Mama" is the best name I could ever ask for. 

Arizona we will be back soon!

The Saguaro in Scottsdale

Last week, we spent some time visiting Cameron's parents in Arizona. It had been several years since we last visited Arizona and we were excited for a change of scenery, warm weather, amazing Mexican food, and lots of swimming. We took an evening flight from Seattle and knew we would be arriving late, so we booked one night at The Saguaro Scottsdale to start our trip off. Aside from the sometimes stifling mid day heat, it was the perfect time of year to visit Arizona. The thermometer easily hovered a little over one hundred degrees each day and we found if we were outside, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. 

We woke up early the next morning and had the pool to ourselves. We spent the morning pool side, enjoyed a few snacks and the beautiful pool area. 

At The Saguaro Scottsdale, every where you look there are fun bursts of color. I left the hotel wanting to paint every wall in our home a bright, poppy color and I decided a hot pink couch is really a must for those long Winter days. 

We had a lovely time staying at The Saguaro Scottsdale. Our only wish is that next time we have a little more time. 

These ice cream sandwiches were not only cute, but very comfortable for floating around on. Also, it was fun to say, "If you need me I'll be the one on the ice cream sandwich!"

Children are experts at relaxing and being carefree. I love to watch this little man and see what adorable thing he is going to do next. 

After our morning at the pool we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and then headed out for our next adventure. 

Kidbox (Part One)

When you are a child, a box is not just a box. A box can be a boat, a car, a ramp, a coloring book and can provide hours upon hours of fun. Especially, when you are a toddler you are more interested in the box that comes in the mail rather than what comes inside. So when our Kidbox Back to School box arrived I was excited about the clothes inside and Jasper was excited about the box. 

Jasper loves to be involved in whatever I am doing. So he was happy to help open up the box and quickly wadded up all the tissue paper for me. (the print was so cute, he probably knew I wanted to save it and decided to save me the trouble)

The best part of Kidbox aside from avoiding the crowded malls and trying to coerce your unwilling child into trying on clothes is that every time you purchase a Kidbox, they will donate new clothes to a kid who needs it. Pretty awesome, right? Kidbox is one of the easiest and best ways I have found to start a conversation with your kid about social good.

Included in our box of goodies was this wonderful little newsletter called The Scribble in addition to some fun alphabet stickers. The Scribble has interesting and inspiring articles which will provide you with many teaching moments. Even though Jasper cannot read yet, I appreciate literature directed at kids, but isn't dumbed down for kids. I like opportunities where both Jasper and I can stop and think about something together (even if he keeps most of his opinions to himself for the time being). One of my favorites articles this time was "How to be a world citizen" I really like the idea of a child, although growing up as the center of your universe to know they are a small, but important part of a bigger world. 

The thing which struck me when I opened up my Kidbox was how thoughtfully prepared and organized the whole experience was. At the top of our Back to School box there was a welcome letter to Kidbox in addition to a list of what pieces are included in our box. From the time you receive your box you are given seven days to try on the clothing and send back whichever pieces you do not like or need to exchange for a different size. The prepaid envelope is included in your box and the whole process could not be simpler. After seven days your credit card will only be charged for the items you decide to keep. 

And now for the entertaining part where Jasper plays with his Kidbox for a solid hour! 

Down, and down the cars went. One after the other. And then the train wanted to get in on the action. 

A car ramp is a whole lot more fun when it is decorated with bright streaks of color. 

Next week, in our Kidbox (Part Two) Jasper will be modeling all his new Back to School pieces from Kidbox. Jasper has a jam packed Fall schedule of library visits, play dates, grocery shopping and rock throwing he wants to look good for. 

This post was sponsored by Kidbox

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. 

Apple Picking at Jones Creek Farm

Oftentimes, I would like the busyness of life to slow down. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy visiting farms throughout Washington state and beyond. Over the Summer, our son has grown like a weed, his hair has taken on the most delicious buttery blond highlights and his clothes once huge now look small. When we visit a farm it is like a mini escape. Time almost stands still. We can shut out the world and focus on what we are doing or simply enjoy the beautiful scenery around us. I have many romantic notions about what life on a farm would be. Mainly, I just want the end result without all the hard work involved. Ha! 

This past weekend we drove up to Jones Creek Farm for a little apple picking and a scenic drive of sorts. We stopped at Calico Cupboard for lunch and made certain to pick up a couple of toffee bars for the drive home. Once at Jones Creek Farm we pretty much had the place to ourselves. We walked up and down the rows of apples and pears and were almost overwhelmed by the abundance before our eyes. We live in a place where we have access to some of the freshest, most beautiful produce in the country and I believe it is paramount that my son learns where his food comes from. 

Immediately, Jasper made certain to fill his arms with apples and his hands with sticks. It is a funny characteristic of his, but he loves to have his arms full. I like to think this trait will serve him well one day in the future.

Apple picking with a toddler is more like an apple buffet. Jasper loaded up his arms and proceeded to eat a majority of each apple. He would also pick apples off the ground and take a bite out of them and then put them back. Funny kid!

Since Jasper refused to nap on the way up, by the time we got around to apple picking it coincided with his nap time. He tried to fight off sleep for a long time mainly because he did not want to put his apple down, but he eventually figured out he could rest his apple on his shoulder and then fall deep asleep. 

Always busy, always scheming up trouble. 

Lately, I have not been good about remembering to get in front of the camera. So here is my arm to prove I was there and ate an apple or two in the process. 

Jones Creek Farm: 32260 Burrese Rd, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Call for hours and to see what they are picking (360) 391-3904

What a 90 degree day calls for......

Whenever we get a late start, lack the energy required for an eight mile hikes or are stumped as to where to go we end up at Snow Lake. Although it can be a busy and crowded trail, it is a beautiful hike. Also, the reward of ending up at an alpine lake is as big a reward as you'll ever have when you are day hiking in Washington. A couple weeks ago, when the forecast called for a ninety degree Saturday we knew we liked the idea of swimming in the cool waters of an alpine lake. 

We were not entirely sure what Jasper would think of Snow Lake, but he was a BIG fan. Part of the time he sat on the rocky shore and threw rocks in the water and the other part of the time he sat in the chilly water and threw rocks in the water. I never really thought about it, but diapers come in handy for a lot reasons. On this particular day, always having a portable cushion with you is great when you are sitting on a rocky shore. 

Cameron and I took turns swimming in the lake and each time Jasper used us a target practice. I have never known fear to come as quickly as when your toddler has a rock careening toward your head. 

So often people lament about how hard toddlers can be, even though Jasper can be difficult I can honestly say this is my favorite phase of childhood thus far. 

I love how Cameron and I have visited here so many times I have lost count. We have created so many fond memories here over the years. I have hiked here while pregnant with both of our children, hiked here in the rain, snow and heat and have spent many a night camped out along these shores enjoying the company of mosquitos and each other. 

Each day I spend in the mountains I cannot help but feel an enormous gratitude for a healthy body which allows me to hike, move and make memories with my family. 

Hiking around Mount Rainier

In the Summer, there is one Saturday I look forward to more than all the others- it is the day we go hiking around Mount Rainier. Typically, we visit Paradise in August when the wildflowers are in full force and our chance of having a clear day is at its greatest. So far this ultra scientific method for picking what day to visit has worked out. Over the past several years we have enjoyed a spectacular day on the mountain. 

This year, Jasper was keen on stacking rocks, throwing rocks and waving to all the other hikers. When we stopped for lunch, he practiced walking with the hiking poles and otherwise charmed the pants off of everyone he met. I always feel a great sense of pride as we watch my little man develop a love for nature. While we were hiking we came across this family who was celebrating their grandmother's 80th birthday with a day of hiking around Mount Rainier. Oh how I hope Jasper's love and interest in hiking can be a life long endeavor he can enjoy with his own family one day.  

The majesty of God's creations surround us when we hike. I completely understand how people prefer to go hiking instead of attend church. Enjoying what God has created is indeed a form of worship in my book. 

Being a photographer gives me a certain perspective on the world, being a visual storyteller gives me another and being a mother has heightened my senses even more. I notice every plane flying overhead, every bird flying by, and which kind of rocks are good for throwing or stacking. Jasper has a laser focus on whatever task he is doing and I try to emulate that sense of purpose in the time I spend with him. 

Lunch with a million dollar view! For those of you who do not like to hike or who think you are not a hiker, let this photo represent what you are missing out on. The beauty of hiking is this: you can go at your own pace and see as much or as little as you like. I have seen people with physical impairments, elderly people and very young children hiking around. Once you take your first hike, you will crave more. There is peace to be found in the mountains, there is time and space to think, be and just enjoy. 

Past trips to Mount Rainier include: snow in 2008, camping with our friends in 2011, while pregnant with Asher in 2012 , 2013 , and pregnant with Jasper in 2014

South Lake Union Block Party

For the past several years we have made it a point to stop by the South Lake Union Block Party for burgers, sunshine and an all around good time. This year we had an eager toddler in tow who was ready to get in on the action himself. Most notably during the block party, he played a little chess, chased bubbles, grabbed more than a few bananas from the free Banana stand, chowed down on burgers and picked up his first library card accompanied by a temporary tattoo of the downtown Seattle library. After the Block Party we made our way down to South Lake Union Park for a little splashing around in the water to cap off our night. 

Don't let this photo deceive you, Jasper was having a great time, he just does not have time for photos when there is water to be played in. 

Hands down the best part of Summer is its long days. Come Fall, I will miss the late nights out eating ice cream and frolicking in the warm air. 

As We Grow

One of my favorite parts of having a little one is being able to dress him each day. If you know me, then you know a whole lot of thought and effort goes into building and maintaining Jasper's wardrobe. I find it very important for him to be dressed appropriately either for the weather or the outing we are going on. My first priority always is for him to be comfortable, but I also want him to be able to easily wear a variety of clothes.

While visiting Iceland many years ago I was introduced to a brand called As We Grow. As soon as I saw their beautiful clothing I was eager to dress my future children in their brand. As We Grow is an Icelandic design company which not only focuses on dressing children in beautiful, quality goods, but in giving families heirlooms they can pass between siblings, friends and eventually generations to come. As We Grow takes inspiration from its roots, combining classic nordic design elements with chic modernity. For example, this mountain sweater is a playful and whimsical take on a classic Icelandic sweater design. 

At As We Grow, they execute slow fashion, creating quality clothing that lasts. Their timeless pieces are designed to grow with the child. From the beginning, they have believed in designing products that offer real value to their users. This means, offering garments which last over generations, as well as always being mindful of the environment and the communities. Each As We Grow piece is fair trade for the benefit of all people.

It is tempting to get in the rut of picking up whatever is on sale when you are out running errands,  but I love the idea of making memories in clothing I know are going to last for many years to come. As avid hikers and outdoorsmen I was particularly drawn to this Mountain sweater. This way, whether at the beach, the park or at home; mountains can be close to his heart and reflective of where Jasper spends the majority of his time. I love the mountain sweater paired with this baby hat which keeps his head warm without the bulk and this adorable little kid's scarf. Seattle is such a temperate climate these are pieces I can easily work into his wardrobe ten months out of the year. 

As We Grow only uses natural, renewable, sustainable materials which emphasize conservation and lead to environmentally sound products. Their alpaca wool is a fiber that does not come at the expense of the environment or the animal. Every stage of their production is ethical. For all their hand knits they partner with indigenous women to create a sustainable flow of income for them. 

Whether going to church, the park, meeting up with friends, going to the museum or simply hanging out at home Jasper can look pulled together and stylish in his As We Grow pieces. A few of the things I like best about As We Grow clothing is first and foremost, the beautiful quality of the pieces, but also how many of them are gender neutral. I love putting Jasper in a variety of colors and patterns so shopping at most major retailers can oftentimes feel limiting. 

This post was sponsored by As We Grow

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. 

Snow Lake in the Summer

Snow Lake in the Summer

Snow Lake is one of our favorite hikes to do year round. The drive to the trailhead isn't too far, the distance on the trail isn't too great and we always know it is going to be beautiful once we reach the top. In early Summer, there are streams which zig zag the trail and waterfalls in the distance. In late Summer, there are wildflowers dotting the trail and in early Fall the colors of the foliage are spectacular. 

Read More

South Lake Union Park

South Lake Union Park

This Summer we have discovered a new favorite place to hang out- South Lake Union Park. Although we have always liked this place, we just recently discovered the joys of it on a hot Summer day. For cooling off we love the epic splash pad, when we get hungry we like the healthy and convenient made to order lunches they serve at the MOHAI and the best part of all is the constant buzz of air traffic overhead and boat traffic on the water. 

Read More

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Although we have done a fair amount of traveling I always feel like we have just scratched the surface. There is so much to see and do in our neck of the woods there really is no need to venture too far unless we are in the mood for a change of scenery. On our way back from Pemberton last month, we stopped at the Sea to Sky Gondola. We rode the gondola up, ate lunch and then walked along a few of their trails and rode it back down. Next time, we plan to hike up and then ride the gondola down. Had we not been pressed for time we would have done so this time. 

Read More

Outstanding in the Field at North Arm Farm

Outstanding in the Field at North Arm Farm

In Pemberton, BC there exists a place so beautiful it just begs to be shared. North Arm Farm is a family run business that was started by Jordan and Trish Sturdy in 1995. Since then, it has been developed into forty five acres of vegetables and fruit. One July morning, we made the trek from our home in Seattle to their farm in Pemberton. What ensued was an evening of stunning food, inspiring conversations and endless beauty. My only wish is that this farm was located closer to Seattle because I would like to spend as much time as possible in this idyllic setting. 

Read More

Melakwa Lake

Melakwa Lake

Saturdays could easily turn into just another day in the week. We could spend our time cleaning, doing projects around the house and running errands, but instead Saturdays have become our day to invest in our most important priority-our family. On a typical Saturday, we try to leave the house early and head for the mountains. Depending on a variety of factors; the weather, our energy levels etc. we set out on a hike for the day. On this particular day, we hiked a total of nine miles. We hiked to a beautiful alpine lake called Melakwa. On our way up, while Jasper took a nap, I took time to document just a few of the wildflowers we saw. Once he was awake, amidst cascading waterfalls and scenic vistas we practiced his animal sounds. 

Read More

Our long weekend in Victoria, B.C.

Our long weekend in Victoria, B.C.

The biggest perk of catching the early ferry is you can hit the ground running once you are in Victoria. When traveling with a toddler two of the most important factors are food and speed. During our boat ride we were able to eat breakfast and then spend the rest of the time checking out all the boats and beautiful scenery out our window and chatting with the interesting people on board. Once in Victoria we took a short taxi ride to our hotel and without much fuss we were able to be settled into our room and get a bite to eat all before noon. Since it was so early in the day, we then had the rest of the day to explore Victoria at our leisure. We had such a long list of things we wanted to do we really appreciated being able to get up to Victoria so fast and with such ease on the Victoria Clipper

Read More

Granite Mountain with a toddler

Granite Mountain with a toddler

A few weekends ago we decided to tackle Granite Mountain. Our schedule has been jam packed with travel these past few months, so we have not been able to get out hiking as often as we would've liked to. Hiking Granite Mountain is one of our favorite things to do in the Summer and early Fall. And it never feels like Summer until we have tackled a handful of our favorite hikes. 

Read More