Escaping to the mountains (Winthrop, WA with toddlers!)

One of the reasons we moved to Seattle was because I had this vision of Tim and I being able to take roadtrips with our little family to truly wonderful places, and we have LOVED exploring this gorgeous area of the country! A few weekends ago we drove through the North Cascade mountain range and to Winthrop, Washington. We traveled with friends for a long weekend and had so much fun!

When I was brainstorming places to travel to, I was looking for somewhere we hadn’t been that would bring us closer to nature, near beautiful scenery, with lakes to play in, hikes to explore, and roads to bike on. Plus, it always helps to be somewhere near a coffee shop and some casual restaurants. (I mean, let’s not get too rustic!) Well, Winthrop (in the Methow Valley!) delivered.

First we drove through the North Cascade Range. OHMYGOSH the gorgeousness. Now, of course, some of this beauty was marred by the whining that was coming from the backseat, but Tim and I have gotten pretty good at ignoring that. And the girls actually did surprisingly well! I plan road trips ahead of time and always make sure I have plenty of places picked out to stop, so whenever the girls decide they have had it with the riding, we can pull over for an activity. (This book has been a lifesaver for car trips in the PNW!)

Methow Valley with Toddlers

On this particular car trip we stopped at a road side berry stand for homemade ice cream and freshly picked berries. We also stopped at Diablo Lake and it was just as stunning as the pictures I’ve seen promised. Now, one thing about me is that I’m not just going to stop and let everyone out of the car only to try to stuff them all back in. Nope. Instead, I go the other extreme and insist that we all hike 4 miles to see the scenery and really tire our legs out. (Tim goes along with this but I am 99% sure he thinks I’m nuts.)

I prefer to make the drive part of the trip experience, instead of just a means to get somewhere. I’ve found that it lessens my frustration with the slow pace and the frequent stops we do. I know some families can just power through road trips and get to a destination, but that hasn’t worked for us!

Methow Valley with Toddlers

Anyways. I highly recommend the Thunder Knob trail at Diablo Lake! It’s near the Colonial Creek Campground which is gorgeous and I fully plan on attempting to camp there next year! (In WA you need reservations for campgrounds months and months in advance for summer weekends. It is crazy and goes against my last minute vacation planning nature.)

We finished the drive with relative silence from the littles (Yay! Mission accomplished!) and arrived in Winthrop around dinner time and the trip kept getting better and better!

Methow Valley with Toddlers

Over the weekend we spent time with friends in a wonderful log cabin tucked back in the trees, we swam in a community pool, threw rocks in a stream, visited the local fish hatchery and fed trout, rode our bikes in Mazama, laughed, ate ice cream on the main street of Winthrop, went paddleboarding on Patterson Lake, and laughed some more.

Methow Valley with Toddlers

Basically, I highly recommend this area for a weekend getaway – especially with kids! There were endless activities and it was so nice to see my kids enjoy the outdoors even more than we do in the city. Well, I guess it’s just a different type of outdoors, really!

Methow Valley with Toddlers

Our reaction to both girls being asleep in the car.

On the drive back home we stopped only once for dinner and a quick hike near the Colonial Creek Campground again, because I just couldn’t get enough of those alpine lakes! Seriously. So freakin’ pretty. This time we hiked Thunder Creek trail but turned back around when we ran into a hiker who told us he had been chased out of his camp by a bear. Ummm yeah, you don’t need to tell me twice. Granted the bear sighting was miles away from where we were, but something about bears and two small girls unnerved me. Plus, it was dusk and time to jump back in the car and head back to Seattle.

Methow Valley with Toddlers
Methow Valley with Toddlers

I’ll say that the drive back home was not quite as silent as I would have liked and we arrived back home exhausted but oh-so-happy with our trip experience. We are planning to go back next summer for sure!

Have you taken any trips this summer?!

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Toddlers + sleep (a parenting/life update)

You know how you have those weeks when parenting seems easy easier because your kids are sleeping and eating and not whining (much) and things are falling into place and you almost think about having another kid because you finally have your own figured out?

Well, those moments last about 6 hours here. If even.

A life update: Toddlers + Sleep

The vacation version of ourselves take casual to a whole new level… (and this photo/caption is unrelated to this post except that it has our family in it, so I’m still going with it.)

We really thought we had Clara’s sleep figured out months/years ago. For a solid year she was going to bed at a reasonable hour and waking up at a reasonable hour and sleeping for up to three hours in the afternoon. It was glorious. (I mean, we still weren’t sleeping much because I was pregnant and had a newborn in that time… but at least one person in our house was well rested!)

Then Clara turned 2.5 years old and it all changed. She started staying up late. As in 11pm every single night, if not later. I tried shortening her naps, but this made her super cranky, and she still went to bed around 10pm, so it wasn’t worth it. Until recently, we’ve been surviving like this, but barely. With the kids not napping at the same time in the afternoon (if at all), I had no time to get anything done, plus with a toddler awake until our bedtime, I was staying up way too late (until 1am or 2am) to do the things I wanted to do. It was chaos. Not to mention that Isabelle would still wake up sometimes during the night (darn you, teeth!) and as early as 5am in the mornings.

So many sleep problems for these babes o’ ours.

If you haven’t tried sleep ‘training’ two kids at the same time… let me tell you, it isn’t fun.

Bottom line: after realizing that our family could not thrive with this late toddler bedtime, and seeking some opinions on the topic, I decided to drop Clara’s naps completely.

It has made bedtime easier but our days loooooong. I try to have her do quiet time while Isabelle is sleeping, but it’s not so quiet (to say the least). I no longer have any time to myself during the day, and sometimes I just need time to zone out, away from toddlers. It’s been rough. Plus, Clara sometimes emotionally falls apart at around 4pm because she just can’t handle not sleeping.

So, going forward we’re going to try realllly early bedtimes for both girls. Like, 6:30pm early. This seems crazy to me, but I think Clara needs a good 12-13 hours of sleep a night and I need to make sure I give her that time.

Of course, this means that I need to have dinner ready early and I’m sure you SAHMs know that life is chaos around the time dinner needs to get done and dads get home from work. (Or, SAHDs when the moms get home from work).

It’s a hard season over here.

And I know it’s just a season, but it’s hard. I’m optimistic that we’ll get this figured out, though.

I know some kids transition from one nap to zero naps in  just a few weeks, but we’ve been battling this for months and months. Maybe if I had really pushed her to skip a nap earlier, she would be adjusted by now – who knows.

The point is, I was a clueless mom in January and thought my kid was suddenly broken because of the late bedtime. I thought that when toddlers ‘dropped naps’ it was because they suddenly refused to take them – and the idea of forcing Clara to stop napping seemed crazy to me. She was so energized at night and running around and happy (at 11pm) that we just didn’t think to skip her nap and put her to bed early – because she was doing really well on her current schedule.

And the OT (occupational therapist) that I take Clara to suggested that it might be best for Clara if we continue doing a nap and accept the late bedtime. BUT, that doesn’t work for our family, so we’re attempting the next best thing. She said that some kids go through this transition for years where they need a nap during the day but push bedtime later and later. We cannot handle this cycle for years.

Something to think about: if you are a toddler mom and notice your kiddo is going to bed later and later and later, and still taking a nap, it may be because they’re ready to drop it. (Which is not a fun realization if you love naptime in your house for your own sanity.)

I am envious of all parents who have naturally easy sleeping babies/toddlers! It has been our most frustrating aspect of parenting by far!

Did you need to drop your toddlers’ naps or did they do it themselves?

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Adventuring: Camping with toddlers! (Some advice)

Weeks ago (before our lives turned into complete chaos), I promised to write a post with some tips on camping with toddlers, and today I’m going to deliver!

Now, I’m going to say right now that we’ve gone camping a grand total of ONE time with both our girls, so I am far from an expert. But, we did survive the trip and I did learn some things! (Sidenote, this advice is all for car camping! I haven’t braved backpacking with littles and I probably never will!)

Tips on Camping with Toddlers

11 Tips for Camping with Toddlers:

1) Bring a toddler potty.

Even if your kids aren’t still potty training, if they’re at that stage where ‘holding it’ might be an issue, bring a toddler potty so that they can go to the bathroom right outside your tent. This helps in the middle of the night and also during the day, as our toddler isn’t quite old enough to squat in the woods by herself, but she could use the toddler potty independently.

2) Find a campground with running water.

We didn’t use showers while camping, but we would have if we were there just one more day! I loved having the option of using flush toilets and taking showers at the campground.

3) Go with friends.

I’m not sure our camping trip would have been as successful if it had just been our family of four going. It was nice having some adults to entertain kids while others set up tents and made food and cleaned dishes… it was less work for everyone having a village camping together (at a group campsite).

4) Camp near a town.

One afternoon we drove into town for ice cream, and it was a nice little break away from the campgrounds. While there are definitely reasons to ‘get away from it all’ and I know that some people camp to be out of town and out of cell service range, I think it’s ideal for a toddler camping experience to be near things to do, just in case you start going a bit nuts at a boring campsite.

5) Bring a tarp to put on the ground to keep toys in one area.

This is especially useful for crawlers!

6) Select a campground that has activities. 

We camped very near trails and a beach. There was even a playground! Basically, it was toddler paradise which meant that it was easy to entertain our little ones while also doing things we love doing. I definitely recommend staying somewhere that offers a few different activities for the littles to enjoy.

7) Stay close to home. 

At least for the first trip, stay within 2 hours of your home so that if all heck breaks loose, you can drive back pretty easily. I think this will just ease your mental stress more than anything. Let’s say it starts pouring rain and you’re miserable and you decide to abort the entire mission, it will be easier to do if you don’t have a six hour drive ahead of you.

8) Bring a swing or hammock.

If you have toddlers who don’t want to stay in one spot and are too old for a traditional pack n’ play, bring a swing or hammock and tie it to a tree so you can throw them in it while you’re trying to cook or set up a tent or any activity in which you may not be paying as close of attention to little ones.

9) Pack snacks.

A lot of snacks. Favorites for us were yogurt, fresh fruit, granola, trail mix, cheese sticks, crackers, ANYTHING. I also advise bringing meals premade so you can serve them just like snacks, with almost zero prep work. We all know that when toddlers say they’re hungry they mean like NOW, so it’s nice to have food ready-to-go without needing to bring out a grill or make a fire.

10) Relax the bedtime routine.

Our babes all went to sleep as the sun was setting (which is late here in the PNW – after 9pm in the summer!) and everyone was fine. Even if your kiddo normally falls asleep before 7pm, just know that you may need to relax that schedule while camping because there is just too much fun to be had and too much sunlight for kids to feel tired at their normal time. I’d advise you to not stress about the bedtime and instead focus on having fun until your kids show pretty clear signs that they’re ready for bed and will be able to fall asleep easily.

11) Have low expectations.

As with all things with toddlers, have low expectations and hope to be pleasantly surprised! I really thought none of us would sleep a wink, and we actually did pretty well! The first night was rough with both girls, but it wasn’t completely horrible and by the second night they didn’t wake up at all in the middle of the night. Clara even managed to sleep until after 8am even though the sun was up before 5am! If you go into the experience just hoping to survive, make some memories, and hopefully sleep just a bit, I think you’ll come out of it really excited with how great the trip turned out to be.

Tips on Camping with Toddlers

I’m sure I’m forgetting some important things, per usual, so let me know in the comments what tips you have!

Have you gone camping with young children?! What have your experiences been like?

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Clara is THREE!

Today marks the third year anniversary of me becoming a mom, which means Clara turns THREE!

Clara turns three today!

We’ve been celebrating for a solid week to make up for the fact that I planned a road trip today. Does Clara love road trips? No. Do I love roadtrips? I used to before kids ruined them for me. Anyways. I’m not sure today will be her favorite day but we’re going to have a long weekend in the Methow Valley and I’m hoping she has enough fun to make up for the 5 hours she’ll need to endure in the car today.

I must admit that I’m a little scared to go into this three-year-old phase. Clara was a dream baby, a non-sleeping one year old, a challenging two year old, and as we approach her third birthday I’m afraid of what she still has in store for me.

Clara is upbeat, sociable (but reserved), encouraging, intelligent, independent, determined, energetic and loving. She has her moments, but she is really fun to be around and I love hearing her thoughts as she’s better able to communicate them. She is constantly busy and the two things she enjoys most are books and her baby dolls.

I’m sure she inherited some of Tim’s traits, but she’s definitely my mini-me and I’m so proud of her.

… and now wish us luck as we embark on this road trip. I always have such high hopes for our family adventures and they never, ever work out the way I envisioned. Except camping! I had such low expectations for camping that the trip far exceeded my hopes. Let’s hope this is the same… I plan on letting Clara watch as much Daniel Tiger as she can handle and pray that Isabelle suddenly develops a tolerance for her carseat. Cross your fingers for us.

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Things Clara says (pt 3)

Our family has been sick since Friday… and counting. First Isabelle got a runny nose… and the rest is history. She took the rest of us down with her.

I never knew how miserable a cold could be until I had kids. Gone are the days of me binge watching TV and eating soup. Plus, now that I’m over 30, I think I recover more slowly than I used to, but maybe that’s because my immune system is on overload and I no longer sleep. Details. And feeling miserable while your kids are feeling miserable… it’s all the worst.

The point being, I had big dreams of having a nice relaxing, adventure-filled week, which didn’t end up happening.

We did have a fun Fourth of July, though! We went to a parade in Edmonds, WA and the girls (well, mainly Clara) loved it. Then we had a low key afternoon and Tim and I put the girls to bed and watched fireworks out of our kitchen window. I never thought I’d be happy about the neighbors shooting off fireworks, but I was so thankful that someone near us decided to get in the holiday spirit so I didn’t miss out on all of the fun!

Lamest story ever? Yes. Let’s all move on.

Things my toddler says

Two brief conversations we had with Clara this week:

The moment I decided to stop walking around in certain types of underwear near my three year old –

Clara: Mom, I like your underwear!
Me: Thanks!
Clara: But why can I still see your butt?

The moment I decided to stop hand washing our dishes –

Tim: Clara, have you been cleaning the potty?
Clara: YES!
Tim: I appreciate you helping, but the brush you’re using is actually for dishes, not the toilet.

How was your holiday?! Are you taking the week off or are you back to your normal routine?

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