Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Winthrop, WA {4th of July 2016}

(This blog post was dug up from the archives....this trip was taken in 2016) 

We took a little road trip over 4th of July weekend. Kenny has been dying to do the North Cascades Hwy drive. He's been talking about it for over 6 years. We originally had thought about camping for this adventure, but it turns out that we don't really do no reservation camp sites very well. We stayed in a hotel instead. A much MUCH better choice. Plus, when we drove back home it was so rainy and cold where the campgrounds were. We were very happy that we didn't go that route!

It took us about 6 hours to get to Winthrop, WA. If you went straight there from our house it would take about 3.5 hours. We took a lot of time stopping and visiting sites along the way. Our kids don't really travel great especially in cars. Adalyn has motion sickness which usually results in her head hurting. BUT they did quite well on this trip! Maybe we can expand our 2 hour camping/road trip radius finally!!

Our first stop was at the North Cascades Visitor Center where we enjoyed looking around and had lunch.

Our next two stops included terrifying suspension bridges over rushing water. So not my thing. I tried to walk across, but just couldn't do it. I sent the family along with out me. This first bridge Adalyn decided to stay and keep me company.

This second bridge, she joined Kenny and Shane. 
On the other side they found some beautiful water falls and gardens.

Our next stop was Gorge Lake. It's not really a lake in my book. 
Technically I think it's a reservoir, but call it a lake if you must.

This is Diablo Lake. The views were so stinkin' amazing. 
The mountain peeks with snow and the gorgeous teal colored water. 
Plus, the sunshine and warm weather felt amazing.

This is at Washington Pass. The highest point along the drive. (NOTE: when you offer to take a picture of a family, please ask that your family moves out of the picture!!!) This place was INCREDIBLE. The fenced edge you see behind us is a straight drop down. Shear craziness. When you get back on the hwy, you drive by this ledge and it's mind blowing how far up you were when you were standing up there.

What!? A heart shaped rock. How cool! 

There was even snow on the ground here. 
My kids seriously haven't touched snow in years. 
Adalyn's foot fell through and got wet. Hence the face.

We stayed in the cutest hotel that felt like a really big cabin called River Run Inn & Cabins. The room was huge with a view of Methow river. There was an indoor swimming pool, a swing set, lawn games and hammocks every where. It was really quite beautiful. I wanted to raft the river badly, but Adalyn was just to little for that adventure. It's on our bucket list though! 

Shane was all about the snorkel and mask!

Adalyn was NOT all about swimming any where that it was "deep".
Kenny reassuring her it's all good.
Adalyn not buying it.

I could spend all day right here in this hammock resting and reading.

Downtown Winthrop was one of my favorite little towns ever! So cute and fun. Great stores and yummy food.  Old Schoolhouse Brewery was one of our favorite restaurants with a beautiful deck right on the river. The Methow Valley Ciderhouse was a favorite, too. They had the best bratwurst (and we aren't bratwurst fans!) and great cider. 

Sheri's Sweet Shoppe...OMG...so much yummy stuff there. 

There was an outdoor museum of town history which was fun to browse.

We spent one day hanging out at Pearrygin Lake State Park.
A day of sun, sand and water is good for the soul. 

On the way home we stopped off at check out this cool train.
The kids loved climbing all over it and ringing the bell.

Our Winthrop adventures were a blast. We spent longer in the car with the kids then we ever had before (and we survived!). I'd go back there is a second and I'm not one to revisit places because there are so many things in the world to see. But Winthrop is a place I hope to visit again!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Seattle Magazine {November 2017}

September of 2017, I was asked to be interviewed for an upcoming article on vaccinations in a local area magazine. I had participated in a program called Immunity Community back in 2013. In April of last years, results from that study had been released and the magazine was featuring an article about the program.

I spoke with the reporter over the phone one afternoon. Nothing to exciting. She said she'd send me the copy of the article to proof any of the information I provided. Time went by and I never heard anything. Then I got a call to have a photo-shoot for the article. I was surprised, but said sure, come on over. A lovely photographer came over another afternoon and shot pictures for about 30 minutes. That was that. Time continued to pass and I didn't think much about the whole thing.

Then one day a friend sent me a message on Facebook with a picture of the article. I was flabbergasted! I had no idea the article had "hit newsstands"! I had no idea what the article said! I had no idea my face would be smack dab right there at the top of the article and SO dang big! I had totally assumed I'd have a little 1x1 square picture at the bottle of the article. Nope! That's what one gets for assuming!

That evening on the way home from a meeting, I stopped by our local grocery store wondering if I'd find the magazine there. Sure enough, in all it's glory. I purchased a couple and headed home. Terrified to see what I might have said and what might have been written! Luckily, I'm just a tiny little piece of the overall thing and not overly embarrassed by the quotes I provided in it. Phew! That picture may haunt me for awhile though.

If you'd like to check out the article you can now find it online:


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Poppy The Hamster {RIP}

This morning we lost our sweet Poppy the hamster. We had recused Poppy in August from a family that was unable to keep her in their new rental house. I think she was about 8-10 months old when she came to us. Making her 1-1.5 years old when she past today. It was quite unexpected to have our furry little friend head to heaven so soon.Though we know with little creatures of this sort anything is possible at any time.  Adalyn feels a lot of relief knowing that "Poppy's soul is in heaven with Dodger now". Poppy, was Adalyn's pet. As Shane had taken in a Gerbil named Chewy earlier last year.

Poppy truly brought us a lot of joy and laughs. She enjoyed being held and snuggled (until she got wiggly and wanted to run). She rocked her little plastic ball and would run all around the house in it. We loved seeing her climb the side of the cage when she got excited for food. She was quite the runner on her wheel. Speedy thing! Every now and then we'd give her a tiny piece of banana. She'd sit and nibble on that piece of heaven so sweetly. The best Poppy trick of all was watching her shove food into her side mouth pockets. Man, could she fit an insane amount of food into those things at a very fast rate. Where did that baby carrot just go!?! Oh, Poppy just crammed into her mouth! I don't think any of us ever got tired of watching this magic trick she had.

Poppy in her original cage. After a month or so we were able to find her the cage of all hamster cages full of tunnels and two levels. She loved running up and down her tunnels.

Our time with Poppy was fast. I sadly never captured the pictures I would have liked or even got a video of her party tricks. Yes, she was a small little creature in this world, but the message remains the same. Treasure all the things you love in life. You just don't ever know what tomorrow will bring.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Less Is More {Declutter & Organize}

Two of my favorite things to do are decluttering and organizing! Give me a messy closet or a disorganized cabinet and I'm one happy camper. Over the past couple years, I've really been on a mission to simplify. Less is more. It can very much be an uphill battle with what feels like a constant influx of items arriving into our house and multiplying after they get here (it's like toys are rabbits!). As the kids get older and we go through different phases moving out stuff just makes our house feel lighter and easier to be in.

A new phrase in our house is "use it or lose it". I have one kiddo that hoards stuff he gets in a nice tidy way, but never actually uses it. Drives me crazy! As we continue through our January Spending Freeze I've encouraged him to use the things he has in his room or it's time to move them out.

Our other child uses her toys hard for 1-2 days and then never touches them again. We are also encouraging her to return to her once beloved things and use them or move them out.

If something hasn't been played with or used in a year, out it goes! Especially if it would cost less then $10 to replace it. We tend to want to hold onto those random little things in life we *think* we'll use again, but the reality is rarely do those items get reused. Most often they are forgotten about over time and just create clutter. 

I have a few avenues that we actively pass on our stuff.

I adore our local Buy Nothing group on Facebook. The Buy Nothing Project started as a way for people to give and receive items in their local neighborhoods. I love being able to gift things to the people in my direct community. And on the reverse side, receiving items this way is FREE. I can look around our house and find lots of awesome things we've been gifted from BN. If and when the times comes we'll re-gift them back to the community. It's a constant amazing circle of acts of kindness.

If I don't give it through our Buy Nothing group then it goes to Goodwill. I always have a donation bag in the garage ready for a quick drive through drop off when it's full.

Sometimes we have things that I determine are valuable enough that it's worth taking the time to sell it.

Our local consignment store is where I send any seasonal in new condition clothing and sometimes toys. I don't get a ton of money going this route. But it's easy and I usually turn around and use any money earned there on clothes for the kids.

We also have a local selling group on Facebook that is fairly active. Items go pretty quickly that route if priced correctly. Quick and easy to have a little extra cash flow that way.

Finally, Craig's List has worked really well for us, too. We recently sold two pieces of furniture within hours of listing them on CL. I had fallen in love with two new living room pieces that I really "needed" to have, but we hadn't planned on changing things up. By selling the ones we were replacing, it offset the cost of the new pieces greatly. Instead of spending $500 on the new stuff, we only spent $200. Totally worth it!

Less is more. Simplify, de-clutter and organize. I'm amazed that even after years of doing this there is always more that can go. Here's to going deeper with the items we have and moving on the items we don't need, want or use.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

January Spending Freeze

The big announcement was made yesterday at our weekly family meeting...January there would be a spending freeze! Outside of the food we'll need and of course the regular bills and giving that are already set in place like utilities and garbage, etc. The kids took it well. We'll see if over the weeks to come they'll still be sitting so comfortably in this concept.

Why you ask are we setting the credit cards aside to stop any extra spending?

Well, there's really a variety of reasons that one day in early December I mentioned to Kenny my idea. He was in full agreement. We have oh so much to be grateful for and the resources to take care of our family well beyond the basic needs of life. Our kids don't get their every whim and desire meet, but sometimes it feels like that.

Often spending is so much easier then not spending. It's easier to go out to dinner instead of making dinner at home and even extra hard to think ahead and have the items needed to make dinner at home.

It's easier to run to the local toy store and purchase a gift for the next birthday party, then to think outside of the box for items that we may already have on hand. What could we make your friend for their birthday? What creative "kit" could we put together with things we have here at home?

It's easy to grab that little $5 something that we "need" or toss in a fun treat while at the grocery store.

When the kids need new clothes or shoes usually those needs are quickly resolved with a purchase.

It's so easy to add Showtime for $9 this month so we can binge watch season 8 of Shameless instead of waiting for it to arrive on Netflix in who knows how many months.

Amazon Prime! Oh, you monster! It's so easy just to pop in my cart whatever item we "need" and have it arrive on my doorstep in a day or two.

It's fun to spend the weekend going to the movies or hitting up other local activities. My favorite hobby of "lunching out" will be put on hold for other non-spending activities this month.

The kids even have their own stash of cash that when the whim calls they can spend it on what ever item that their Mama won't use her cash on to purchase. I want there to be more thought next time we need or want to buy something, go somewhere, do something. Thought into what it may cost or if we really need to do or purchase that. I want the kids to see and have a bit of appreciation for what we spend our money on.

Trust me, we aren't even truly BIG spenders over here. We sit on and do talk through big purchases and say no to a lot of things. I constantly feel like I battle society on the things we need to have. The things my kids see their classmates have. The title wave of the need for this new thing or that new thing. Whatever the next cool item is or the phone that our 10 year old so desperately thinks he needs.

We've chosen to start 2018 a bit more purposeful when it comes to spending. Teaching the whole family a little lesson on waiting, wanting, wishing and needing.

Looking forward to the end of the month and how our spending freeze shakes out.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Christmas Traditions {2016}

This year I tried to make sure our Christmas season didn't feel so hectic and full. We let go of a few traditions that felt to much and revised a few to make them feel less stressful.

The traditional gingerbread kit still took place! With a bit too much of eating of the candy and licking of the frosting. Overall, it was a success.

And we make cookies! Funny enough, this was on a totally different day then the gingerbread house making yet it appears my children are wearing the same clothes. For the 2nd year in a row, Cousin Arli, joined us for cookie making.

Though the whole thing was fun. 
The best part of the activity was that every single cookie Arli made had eyes on them!  

And we we feed the reindeer oatmeal Christmas Eve night. 

As well as, leave Santa cookies. 

Christmas morning our early risers get to open stockings first thing.   
Adalyn's was full of Shopkin items. 

Shane's was full of Star Wars.  

Next comes, Santa gifts! Those come wrapped in red. 
So far, what they've requested has been received. We'll see when that trend ends. 

Shane got his Star Wars Battlefront game for our so old PlayStation 2.  
Santa had to find this item on Ebay. 

Adalyn got her Mani and Pedi gift card! 

The kids get to purchase each other a gift (one of my favorite traditions!). 
Adalyn got Shane this little stuffed "Dodger".  

The kids also get to purchase a gift for each of us. 
Adalyn got Kenny a running hat and Shane got him running gloves.

Checking out the calendar Papa gets every year. 

Christmas season is one of my favorite times of year. Finding the balance between soaking it in and enjoying it versus drowning in it takes a bit of practice.