September 11, 2017

paradise at mt. rainier

Mt. Rainier produces the best things: cherries, waterfalls, wildflowers, glorious hikes and snowy peaks. Last summer, we drove the three hours to the far side of the volcano to try to hike a bit and got completely rained out. We did get a sweet little picnic before that, but we definitely didn't get to savor the splendor like we did this year. Last weekend, we adventured there again and it did not disappoint.
These peaks are just stunning. Every breath of crisp mountain air filled my whole body with a familiar love for nature. I feel so grateful to live somewhere where beauty surrounds me all year long. Our kids have become quite the hikers. Yes, they still complain when they get tired, but they've hiked a lot with us in their short lives. This hike to one of the lakes was particularly special because we were almost entirely alone in the forest and surrounded by huckleberry bushes. The short hike took us a long time because we stopped every few steps to pluck some berries and savor the quiet forest around us.
We saw many waterfalls during the day and each one had its own special splendor. Of course, I prefer the Paradise hike to just about all of them, but the Wonderland trail is filled with stunning views and beautiful surroundings.

Watching the sunset at Paradise was magical. For me, music holds many memories associated with nature and driving with my family on road trips through national parks. As we drove with the windows down, and watched the sunset, we listened to this song. As we headed down the mountain during the perfect moment, we caught a glimpse of a fox couple preparing for their evening. It was so beautiful and magical and I will always remember it.
Rainier, you gorgeous lady, I love you with all my heart.  

August 22, 2017

lulu is three!

My baby is three. HOW did this happen? She's technically been three for 12 weeks, but I am behind on everything in life so... expected. We had a very sweet, little party for her with some friends, the Nelsons, in our yard. It was one of the hottest days of the year here so we bought about 200 water balloons and let the kids just rock the fight, which was very entertaining.
Louisa is such a delight. She has the funniest personality and, like a typical youngest child, is always trying to make us laugh with her goofy antics. She loves to make us laugh and will say or do just about anything for attention. She LOVES to dance and puts on her daily tutu and requests dancing music on the speaker so she can twirl and leap and point her toes in the cutest way ever while we all watch her, entranced.
I love her feisty, strong will and that she knows what she wants. She is so confident and I love her so much. She's just about to start preschool (!!!!) and, while that kind of blows my mind, I know she's ready and will love it - especially now that both boys will be in school full-time.
To get ready for preschool, she had to be potty trained so I am officially diaper-free for the first time in almost eight years. It is so freeing and wonderful, but I admit, I'm a little sad that this phase of my life is over. While there's no more 3 a.m. feedings where my head is bobbing up and down in the nursery chair and I'm crying from exhaustion, there's also no more newborn baby nuzzling and gulping sounds as I nurse in that chair. I won't have any more stinky diapers to change, but I also won't get to enjoy the cutest little diaper bums waddle around the house. There are many complicated emotions as I move into this next phase. Growing and delivery babies were some of the best experiences of my life, but the post-partum phase was also some of the darkest times. I am so grateful that I have three amazing children who have made me a mother and taught me so much. Before I know it, I'll be moving on to the next phase of teenagers and dating and all the excitement / drama that comes with that. So I am relishing this short, but sweet, phase that comes between baby-free (worrying about naps, diaper changing, feedings, dependency) and teenage years (worrying about ALL the big things).
That was my long way of saying - HAPPY BIRTHDAY Louisiana / Lulie / Lulu / Goosey Lu. We love you soooooo much!

August 21, 2017

glorious british columbia

David and I took a trip to British Columbia again in June. We had so much fun last year that we decided this is going to be an annual thing, as long as we can get someone to keep watching our kids while we escape! Last year, we spent the first half at Nairn Falls and then went to Whistler. Since we fell in love with the Nairn Falls campground, we decided to stay there for two more days and then spent one night in Squamish.

The Sea to Sky Highway is stunning. It is truly breathtaking. We spent the whole time on this trip being really outdoorsy, which I'm not really very good at. Luckily, David is a true outdoorsman and he pushes me to try new things and is patient with me when I'm slow or overly cautious. We first walked up to Brandywine Falls which had a gorgeous lookout point. It was a great start to our trip!
From there, we headed over to our campground and set up camp. The Nairn Falls campground is really great. Canada does a lot of things right! It's clean and just beautiful. We lucked out again and got one of the few, epic sites right on the river. It is a sight to behold when you wake up to that river!
The next morning, we spent the day hiking Joffre Lakes. Getting to the upper lake was a pretty tough hike IMO, but boy was it worth it! Beyond that, we kept hiking until we got to the glacier. It was so peaceful and serene. Lots of waterfalls and beautiful spots to relax and enjoy nature.
While we were hiking to the glacier, David had been considering swimming in the lake. When we got there and we observed that most of the lake was still covered in ice, he had a change of heart - thankfully. He does love a good Polar Plunge though!
The next day, we drove over to Squamish to check into our tiny house Air BNB. It was very cute but I certainly couldn't do it long term (and poor David is 6'4" so he was definitely cramped). It was a fun experience though! The owners had a tiny private island along the Howe Sound. They had paddle boards, kayaks and lots of wildlife and sea creatures to observe from the water.
From there, we went to the Sea to Sky Gondola, which you should definitely do if you're ever in the Whistler area. The suspension bridge almost gave me (and many other people) a heart attack but it was so amazing!

 And this was the view from the top - I mean, seriously!!! We loved hiking around the top of the gondola on the many different trails that all had a view of THIS.
Also, if you're ever in Squamish, BC definitely hit up Fergie's Cafe. Not only is it incredibly charming, but they have sustainable business practices it's just delightful. We enjoyed eating our Smoke Salmon Eggs Benedict with Avocado and Capers while sitting under a massive tire-swing-yielding tree next to a beautiful garden.
One last waterfall hike at Shannon Falls before we headed home. It was so wonderful to spend several days with David alone in beautiful British Columbia. We love living so close to Canada! Special thanks to my in-laws who held down the fort at home and took great care of our kiddos! We couldn't have done it without you.

May 25, 2017

a short vacation

We were able to use David's company's resort room on the Yakima River last month to kick off Spring Break. It was a really nice short vacation for our family. I can imagine that in the summer, this place is really pretty. We would love to go back some time during the summer when we can use the pool, go hiking and really enjoy all the outdoor activities.

While we wait for the weather to warm up full-time (we're almost there!), the kids loved throwing rocks in the rushing river and playing horse shoes. I caught some great photos of Lulu that I will cherish forever. I love her face. Aso, this girl looooooves throwing rocks in water.
And... POSE!

William picked up this hula hoop and I died laughing when I looked back at the pictures later. The sequence is just too perfect. Haha! They still make me laugh. He's such a tall boy. At 7 years old, he already comes up to my chin - and I'm 5'7"! Wilbur, I order you to stop growing!

And yes, Fritz was also there but he was upset about something and wouldn't be in any pictures while I had my camera out. It was still a great time had by all!