Adventuring with kids: A weekend near Mt Rainier!

Mt Rainier has been on my bucket list ever since we moved to Seattle. Or actually, it may have been on my bucket list before we moved to the PNW. On summer days it can be seen in the background, overlooking the city of Seattle, and it is just stunning. Truly, she’s a thing of beauty. I can’t believe it took us almost 3 years to see her up close.

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

But this past weekend we went camping near the MRNP (Mount Rainier National Park) and it was every bit as fun as I thought it would be.

Here is what we did for a weekend in MRNP (with toddlers), should you decide to do something similar:

  • We stayed at Silver Springs Campground.
    • Pros: good location near hiking, running water, big camp sites, lots of trees and shade, great roads and paths to ride bikes on within the campgound, can bring dogs (because it’s not in MRNP).
    • Cons: Located directly off a highway (that our particular site backed up to) – which means there was car noise, there are no hikes accessed without driving somewhere, it’s not located in the actual park, no showers.
    • That all being said… I would definitely stay here again! We were in sites 53 & 55, and we fit three families/tents comfortably. And while we did hear road noise, it wasn’t awful. There are some great tent spots near the river, but that made me nervous with toddlers… but something to keep in mind for next time!

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

  • One morning we hiked Naches Peak Loop, which was an excellent hike for us! The little legs of our family only made it about a mile, but it was only a 3 mile hike, so it wasn’t too bad to carry them the rest of the way. The only thing I will say is that the bugs were awful and I am still covered in mosquito bites. The views, however, made it very, very worth it. This is a must-do, in my opinion. (And as a plus, no pass is needed for the parking lot access at Tipsoo Lake!)

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park! Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

  • That afternoon we rode the gondola at Crystal Mountain. The girls absolutely LOVED the ride, but could not have cared less about the (gorgeous) view. At first I didn’t think the price would be worth it, but we really enjoyed our time there, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others, especially if you have young ones and need an afternoon activity before dinner time!
  • The next morning we did the Sheep Lake hike, which was another great one! This hike was beautiful because some of it was on a ridge, and some of it was in a forest. Then, it ended at a beautiful alpine lake. The best part of the lake was that it had an easy entry for toddlers, and grass all around it! Sometimes alpine lakes are super rocky or have steep banks all around it or have too many trees to make it easy to get in. This, however, was perfect, albeit a little chilly! We brought our lunch and all had a little picnic before heading the 2 miles back to the car.

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

  • On our final morning near Mt Rainier, we drove to the Sunrise Visitor Center where we saw the mountain up close and personal, and had a picnic near the stunning views. We also went into the visitor center to learn a bit about the area. This drive was so pretty and I thought it was well worth the extra minutes it took to drive there.

Other info: It’s about $30 per vehicle to get a day pass to the National Park, so we bought the America The Beautiful Pass which gets us into all national parks (I think?) and also is combined with the Northwest Forest Pass, which is a pass we use all of the time for hiking. If you live and hike in Washington, I strongly suggest you get the America The Beautiful Pass so you can get into Rainier National Park and the Olympic National Park.

I cannot wait to go back next summer and explore more of the hikes in that area!

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Workout update: I’m trying ClassPass (again)!

Years ago I did ClassPass (in Chicago) and absolutely loved it. Then, when we moved to Seattle, I stopped my membership because I simply was too pregnant and busy to try out different gyms. Not to mention, I wasn’t familiar with the area and ClassPass in Seattle had gotten really expensive for how much I used it – which was only a few times per month.

So, I tried out different gyms and paid per class, which worked for me. Most recently I tried out Title Boxing and was a member for a few years there. I absolutely love boxing workouts and highly recommend that particular gym to anyone looking to get stronger and work on some cardio in the process!

However, I’ve recently decided that I don’t go to boxing class enough to justify the price – mainly because they only offer classes a few times per day that I could actually go to, and it’s hard to leave my house at 6am or 7pm! Working out around Tim’s work schedule is challenging, to say the least. So I thought I would look at ClassPass again, just to see if there were any gyms nearby to our new house.

Classpass is a fitness membership program that I can't wait to try out (again)!

And I was so pleasantly surprised by what I discovered! (Note: this post is completely not sponsored, but there are affiliate links if you want to try ClassPass for a big discount on your first month. Maybe it’s even free? I’m not sure. Just click away and see.) ClassPass has completely changed their membership structure. Now, instead of paying for unlimited classes, you can pay for ‘credits’ which can be redeemed at gyms/classes.

For instance, with ClassPass in Seattle you can pay $35 for 20 credits (2-4 classes), $50 for 30 credits (4-6 classes), $100 for 60 credits (8-12 classes).

This works perfectly for me because I can pay the $35 and see if I actually use them. Plus I can always add credits to any month, or upgrade my plan. I can also pause or cancel my plan at anytime… so this seems very low risk to me. (And it’s way less money than what I was paying at the boxing gym to only be able to go a few times per month.)

I think this has made ClassPass way more accessible to people who work out semi-infrequently! Unfortunately for me, most of the classes are in the actual city of Seattle (and we’re moving about 20 minutes north of the city), but I still think I’ll be able to make it to a few classes per month! I’m excited to do more barre and yoga classes, but have already seen a few dance and strength classes I may try out.

I wish ClassPass had been around when I traveled 100% for work because I would have been able to workout easily in any city I traveled to! One of my favorite features of ClassPass is that I can see all of the workouts (filtered by location and type of workout) at a specific time of day so I can choose the one I most want to do around my specific schedule. It’s so much easier than looking at individual schedules at all of the yoga places in the area!

I’ll keep you posted.

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Buying a house in Seattle

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we bought a house here in Seattle – which is the biggest commitment I’ve made since getting married. Or maybe since having kids… but we may be in this house longer than our kids live with us! (OK, that’s probably not true, I can’t imagine living in one place that long!)

The housing market in Seattle, especially when we bought the house a few months ago, is crazy. It was actually the hottest housing market in the country for many, many months (years?).

What to expect when you're looking to buy a house in Seattle or a similarly hot housing market

Let me give you a brief synopsis of what you can expect if you’re buying a house here (or in a similarly hot market):

Waived Contingencies

To make a competitive offer, most prospective buyers in Seattle waive all contingencies: finance, inspection, and title.


Of course you don’t want to buy a house without having an inspection done, so you can expect to schedule pre-inspections for every house you want to make a bid on. These run you a few hundred dollars, and you may need to do quite a few during your house search. Sometimes buyers also have inspection reports available for prospective buyers to peruse, but of course, you probably want to have your own inspection done.

Quick Decisions

Houses here are usually on the market for less than a week, and sometimes they’re only listed a few hours before the sellers accept an offer.  This means that as soon as a house is listed on Redfin, Zillow, or a comparable site, prospective buyers need to figure out that day how to see it. This allows enough time for one visit to the house, a pre-inspection, and an offer within a few days.

We visited one house the day it came on the market, and there were quite a few other people walking through it. It had an inspection already done by the buyers, and we knew it would go quickly (and for way over asking price) so we decided to draft an offer. Our realtor got a call later that day saying that the sellers were reviewing offers in two days (originally they said they would be reviewing offers five days from when the house went on the market). Then, as we were trying to decide whether we really wanted to make an aggressive offer, the realtor called back and said they were actually reviewing offers the next morning because they had received such a strong offer. Bottom line: We decided not to make an offer, but if we would have wanted to get the house, we would have had to offer $100k over the asking price with all contingencies waived.

Bidding Wars

I have friends who put offers on 5-10 houses (that’s a lot of money in pre-inspections!) before they finally got a house. There are just that many people out there bidding on good properties! Or even not-so-good properties! This means that no one offers asking price on a property unless it’s  been on the market for quite a while. Prospective buyers always include escalations in their offer to go well above the asking price. It wasn’t unusual, for a while, (I’m not sure if it’s still the case) for houses to go $100-200k over asking price.

A Time Intensive Process

We were only on the hunt for a house for 3 weeks, and then we basically decided we needed to buy a house ASAP before we went completely crazy. I would look at houses with our realtor at least 2-3 days during the week, and we’d always go at least one day on the weekend. Since we don’t have family living nearby, we had to drag our 2 & 3 year olds with us to practically every showing. I would go see a house during the day, and if I loved it, we’d all go back with Tim in the evening. Basically, this schedule was not sustainable for us… who has this much time to search for housing?! Not us! Not anyone! Plus, we cast a wide net of neighborhoods we’d consider, which meant that we were driving all over north Seattle and I was trying to research a bunch of different schools/school districts/crime reports in my ‘free time’… if you have bought a house recently with the intention of raising kids there, you know how it goes. It all takes a ton of time.


All of this makes buying houses a super-stressful process. Needing to make a quick decision about something so major is difficult, plus, with waived contingencies, it really makes it hard to back out of the offer if you change your mind. For instance, if the bank comes back and says the house is worth $1M instead of the $1.2M you paid for it, guess who needs to pay the $200k difference in cash?! The buyer, of course. Hopefully a good realtor will be able to tell a potential buyer what the bank will probably appraise the property at, but the idea of paying much more for a property than it’s worth (and needing to cover the difference), is stressful. And then there’s the risk of buying a property without an inspection contingency… it’s all a lot to consider.

… And I won’t even go into how expensive houses are here in Seattle. In the past few years the prices have risen about 13% a year, which means houses we could have afforded a year or two ago are no longer in our price range. That’s a hard concept to handle and it puts even more pressure on potential buyers to buy a house quickly, before it, too, drifts over the affordable price range.

A lot of my friends have been buying houses here recently, so it can be done! And then the home renovations start, since almost no houses here are affordable and move-in ready! As I type this, our ‘new’ kitchen is being put in! Work on the bathrooms start next week. Our hardwoods are already down. And at some point painting is going to happen… but I’ll talk more about that later. We’re planning on moving in about 3-4 weeks. Wish us luck!

Do you own your house?! What was your house hunting experience like?!

Posted in being an adult, home, seattle | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

A quick word about summer in the PNW

The longer we live in the PNW, the more I realize how different it is here than Chicago. Take the summer season, for example.

In Chicago, the weather is hot and muggy and everyone’s AC is going on full blast. We didn’t have AC in our last Chicago rental, and we thought we may pass out and die on a daily basis. (It didn’t help that I was pregnant/postpartum during that time.)

However, in Seattle the weather is close to perfect. No rain, no mugginess, no mosquitoes, 16 hours of daylight… it’s wonderful. Seriously, perfection. Well, until it gets above 80 degrees in which case we’re all complaining about the ‘heat’ because no one has AC here and it gets HOT in these older houses.

Seattle in the summer (is perfection).

But, there are other differences than just the weather. The perfect conditions in the PNW in the summer cause every single person I know to want to leave the city and head to the mountains or the beaches or somewhere else in the region. Sure, in Chicago people traveled in the summer, but it was maybe one or two weeks during July or August and the rest of the time people stayed in the city. This is simply not the case in Seattle.

Trying to plan anything with anyone in Seattle from June-September is basically impossible. You want to have friends over on a Saturday? Good luck, because everyone is certain to be out of town, doing something outdoorsy (myself included!).

I mean, you may be able to find a family or two around on any given day, but you would be wise to assume that most people will be gone on any given weekend.

Our summer is similarly as busy. So far we’ve had a few long weekends of camping and a trip to Canada. My dad was in town visiting for a weekend. Next weekend we’ll be going camping again, and we have trips three different weekends in August and one or two in September.

There is so much to do around here, and so few weekends in which the weather is trulyperfection. If the blog is a little quieter than usual, it’s because I’m out adventuring!

Do you have any travel / adventure planned for the rest of this summer?!

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Adventuring with toddlers: Camping with young kids? Try it!

As I previously mentioned (multiple times!) I love camping with my (toddler) girls. But I admit, it’s an intimidating thought at first. This post is mainly trying to convince you to go camping with young kids, because it probably won’t be as bad as you think it’s going to be. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.

Intimidated about camping with toddlers? You should do it!

Fear: My kids will never sleep in a tent. Ever. We will all be sleep deprived messes and no one will have any fun.

Reality: OK, it’s true that your kids may not sleep well while camping. BUT, my kids may possibly be some of the worst sleepers ever (at home), and they do much better in a tent. Out of the six families we went camping with, most of us had at least some trouble getting our kids to fall asleep, but usually cuddling them to sleep does the trick! Of course, this process can take an hour (or more!) but it eventually works. Also, bedtime may be pushed back wayyyy later. In Washington it doesn’t get dark until around 9:30pm at this time of year, so 7pm bedtimes definitely weren’t happening among our group. The positive aspect, once the kids fell asleep, they generally stayed asleep! We did have to put Isabelle into our bed every night (because I think she got cold in the middle of the night) but she slept until a decent hour after that, so we couldn’t really complain.

Fear: I have no idea what to pack and I will forget something essential. This seems like a lot of planning…

Reality: Packing for camping is a lot of work in general, and it’s definitely way more work with toddlers. Basically, just pack a ton of snacks, some warm weather layers, and bug spray, and you should be good to go! Of course, sand toys help, because then the toddlers can play in the dirt wherever you are and should be pretty happy. We also brought toddler bikes and balls and bubbles… you know, all of the essentials. *wink* Basically, it does take a lot of prep work, but you will be fine!

Fear: My kids will be cold at night

Reality: They’ll be cold if you don’t put them in layers! I recommend packing a sleeping bag (or blankets), pillows, footie pajamas (or fleece), wool base layers (for older kids), hats, and socks. Honestly, my kids wore their normal pajamas and slept with normal  blankets, but it wasn’t very cold where we were. When all else fails, move the kiddos into your bed and everyone can cuddle together!

Fear: My kids will get dirty.

Reality: YES. They will! And if that bothers you, I suggest finding a campsite that has running water so you can give them a shower. Or better yet, bring a bin you can fill up with water and give them a camp-style bath.

Fear: It sounds like a lot of work to watch the kids, cook meals, clean up meals, set-up camp… etc.

Reality: It really is a lot of work! It helps to go with friends, family, or a super helpful partner. It’s especially difficult when there’s a fire going and you’re trying to keep your toddlers out of it! Last year my girls wanted to throw things in the fire at any given moment and that was less than ideal. However, if one person can watch the kid(s) while the other does the more ‘campy’ stuff, then you can switch after a while. If you’re going camping with just your immediate family, it can definitely feel like you never have time to relax if you’re at the campsite… so I recommend making sure you leave and go on outings! Hike, swim, explore, go into town, etc!

Fear: I’ve never been camping before and the gear is so expensive… what if we hate it and only go once?

Reality: You don’t need to buy all of your own gear right away! Do you have any friends who camp? Ask to borrow all of their stuff! Our friends have camping bins

OK, that’s all I can think of right now! Basically, a lot of your fears may become reality, but it’s still worth it to go on camp trips and create memories with your little adventurers. I was pretty intimidated initially, but last year I loved it so much that we bought all of our own camp gear (we had been borrowing other people’s), and this year I made reservations in advance so we can go camping a few times over the summer! I can’t wait! My girls truly love sleeping in tents and roasting s’mores and swimming in lakes and every other thing that camping entails. If you’re pondering whether you should go camping with young kids, I highly, highly recommend you give it a shot!

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