November is an underrated month

Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday of the year.

And November may be my (new) favorite month of the year.

Here’s why:

+ Soccer season ended and we got our Saturday mornings back.

+ The leaves on the trees  were still gorgeous.

+ We had beautiful weather in the PNW.

+ Football season. Hockey season.

+ THANKSGIVING. Friendsgiving.

+ Black Friday sales.

+ The start of the Christmas season.

It’s the best of all worlds! Even some Halloween stuff can happen in November. I feel like November as a month is certainly underrated. I love a month with low expectations and just general goodness. A holiday about thankfulness (let’s ignore all other origins) – YES PLEASE. Plus, with November is the promise of pumpkin pie… need I say more?

Now comes December and all associated chaos… and I think I am READY.

What is your favorite month of the year?!

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Adventuring With Kids: Camping at Deception Pass

The last (cabin) camping trip of our summer was to Deception Pass. We had been to that location before as a day trip, but it was our first time spending the night at the campground.

We had a great time, and I would recommend the location! At first I wasn’t sure whether it would be worth spending the night (two nights, that is), since it’s only about 75 min away from our house, but it turned out to be a great decision, and we had plenty to do each day.

Camping at Deception Pass State Park

Here’s What We Did:

  • Drove to Fort Casey and explored the lighthouse, watched people fly kites, and walked around the fort, which was huge!
  • Walked around Coupeville. We ate a casual lunch at Kneed & Feed. (On a previous visit we ate dinner at Christopher’s On Whidbey and it was great! I highly recommend that one for a nicer seafood meal.) We also got ice cream at a local shop, which of course was a highlight for the girls.
  • Threw rocks in the water at North Beach (in the Deception Pass State Park), overlooking the bridge.
  • Put our toes in the water at West Beach, and watched the girls swim in Cranberry Lake. (These areas share the same parking lot in Deception Pass State Park. If we had just a tiny bit more time I would have paddleboarded on the lake! Next time.)
  • Hiked up Sugarloaf Mountain to see the sunset. It was GORGEOUS and short, so I highly recommend it – even with young kids! *There is a 2 mile hike and a .5 mile hike… look up the shorter one!*
  • Stopped on the way home to eat at The Shrimp Shack. It definitely won’t be our last time eating that greasy roadtrip goodness.

Camping at Deception Pass State ParkCamping at Deception Pass State Park Camping at Deception Pass State Park Camping at Deception Pass State Park Camping at Deception Pass State Park Camping at Deception Pass State ParkCamping at Deception Pass State Park

We really maximized our time there! At night we stayed at a cabin in the Quarry Pond campground loop, and it was one of the nicest cabins we stayed at during our travels this summer. Nice for a state park campground, that is. It was definitely new and it had a lot of space inside – so it was perfect for us! Plus, we lucked out and stayed right across from a family with lots of kids, who were only too happy to share their toys. They even had an entire extra tent for a dollhouse! Our girls were only too happy to partake in the fun.

If you’re in the Seattle area and are looking for a super easy place to spend a few days, I highly recommend Deception Pass State Park for camping! Or even for a day trip. In previous trips we’ve done some hikes around the state park, including the Lighthouse Point hike, which I highly recommend. There’s also a small playground near there, if you need some little kid bribery. Every time we’re in the area we see eagles and seals (or maybe sea lions?). We have yet to take a whale watching tour from that area (we did take one from downtown Seattle!) but it’s definitely on my list!

To get to Deception Pass we drove up north, but in the past (when we have more time) we’ve extended our trip by taking the ferry back. This entails driving all the way south on Whidbey Island (visiting Fort Ebey along the way – one of my all-time favorite places near Seattle), and taking the Mukilteo Ferry back across the Puget Sound. There are so many things to do on Whidbey Island, you could spend quite a few days there!

It’s also worth mentioning that we’ve visited Whidbey Island in both the summer and fall/winter, and it is always fun! In the winter it’s less crowded and it gets dark so early that there are less hours to do all of the things, but it’s worth spending the day hiking and eating and then driving back to Seattle in the dark.

Happy Adventuring!

 

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Currently: November

Currently.

+ I’m re-reading this book (because it’s one of the best).

+ I’m practicing taking photos with my new mirrorless camera. My Canon Rebel took a nose-dive off a porch and I took that as a sign I needed to upgrade. So far I am very pleased with it.

+ I’m carrying Phoebe with my new sling from hope&plum. Get yourself a hemp sling, you will love it.

+ I’m disinfecting my entire house always and forever because we’ve had the stomach bug for two weeks and now one of the girls has HFMD. Luckily she just has a mild case and it hasn’t spread… yet. Wish me luck.

+ I’m reading posts by R. Eric Thomas on the regular, because he is hilarious.

+ I’m embracing fall. Over the last few months we went to a few pumpkin patches, we dressed up for Halloween, we took family pictures in leaves, we got lost in a corn maze, and most recently Tim and I went on a fall hike to Oyster Dome (north of Seattle, near Bellingham) and then went out to brunch afterwards at Tweets Cafe, in Edison, WA.

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Why We Decided To Hire An Au Pair

About a year ago, I barely knew what an au pair was, and I definitely didn’t understand anything about the au pair program.

And then Tim started talking to coworkers and hearing about their au pairs. At the same time, one of my friends told me about her experience with an au pair. I was intrigued, for sure, but didn’t necessarily consider it for our family.

But when we got pregnant with Phoebe I knew we needed to figure out a childcare plan before she was born. One of the biggest mistakes of my motherhood journey was not getting more childcare help after Isabelle was born, and I wasn’t going to make that mistake twice!

Tim and I immediately discussed hosting an au pair and quickly determined that we would try the program out.

Why We Decided To Hire An Au Pair

Here were the biggest draws to the au pair program:

+ The cost.

Childcare in Seattle is expensive. An hour of childcare (for three kids) can cost almost $30. We pay our au pair about $200 per week for up to 45 hours. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many other costs of the program… there’s an upfront agency fee, we provide a place to live and food and car insurance and a car to drive, etc. Some families have calculated that having an au pair costs about $25k-30k per year. By my calculations, hiring a full-time nanny could cost more than $50k in our area.

+ The flexibility.

This is the huge one. We can figure out our childcare needs as we go most days/weeks. Generally our schedule is consistent week to week, but we can decide relatively last minute if want to take Phoebe with us to a soccer practice, or let her stay home with our au pair. We can also take Saturday day dates, an occasional night out, or change the start and end times of our days without a ton of notice. Being an enneagram type 7, the flexibility is key to my happiness. Do I do a lot of spontaneous activities these days? Nope! But could I? YES! I could! And just knowing that makes me a bijillion times happier.

+ The full-time childcare.

Going back to the cost aspect, if we were paying for childcare by the hour, I would feel a lot of pressure to be super productive on my hours ‘off’. I would constantly be thinking, “was this hour off worth the $30 I paid for it?” However, with an au pair we get 45 hours per week of childcare, so I don’t worry about maximizing every hour. (I might feel differently about this if I worked full time and my 45 hours were spent working at a job and not doing mostly SAHM activities.)

+ The cultural experience.

I think it’s great that my daughters get a little bit of exposure to a different culture. Granted, they keep trying to get our German au pair to teach them Spanish (eye roll), but at least Phoebe is learning some German. 😉 But truly, I love the thought of making friends around the world, for everyone in our family. We’ve all benefited from hearing a different perspective and being exposed to some new things. Plus, our au pair’s parents visited earlier this month and my girls were able to hang out with them and form relationships with them, too. We’re looking forward to getting to know everyone better throughout the year.


Of course, this is just addressing why we chose an au pair instead of a nanny or daycare or some other childcare arrangement. The reason we chose childcare at all is a different question. The short answer is that I needed some help, so we got help. More on that later.

If you’re considering an au pair for your family, definitely reach out to me! I’d love to answer any questions. There are so many factors to consider and we were totally clueless when we started the process.

Phew, it feels good to write a blog post! It’s been way too long since I’ve written here!

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My kids are signed up for all of the things. And other life updates.

I can’t believe summer came and went and now we’re getting into September and our fall schedule/routine. Every year I wonder how it happens so fast.

Here’s a quick life update:

+ I’m feeling the dreaded ‘mom guilt’ over kid activities. UGH. Guys. I’ve basically done what I said I wasn’t going to do and signed my kids up for all of the things. Clara has been asking to do soccer for months, so we finally signed her up. The girls are going to continue taking swim lessons because it’s very, very important to us that they be great swimmers. The girls will both be taking skating lessons because that is Tim’s ‘thing’ (Clara took them last year and Isabelle is joining this year). Clara will continue taking skiing lessons this winter. Plus they’re in preschool a few times a week. And then I felt bad for Isabelle because she isn’t doing soccer nor skiing (and is feeling sad about it) so I signed her up for gymnastics. At this moment it’s 9pm on Friday and Tim is at Target trying to find black soccer shorts for Clara so she can wear them to her game tomorrow… pray for me, people. We may not survive this level of activity. (And I have only myself to blame!)

+ We have an Au Pair living with us and to help take care of the girls! This should be its own post, so it will be… eventually. We’re on our second month in the program, so if you have any questions, let me know!

+ We’ve started giving Phoebe formula a few times a day after late afternoon/evening feedings. This has been a hard transition (emotionally) for me because I really assumed I’d be able to easily breastfeed her for a year and that is just not the case. But it is freeing to know that I don’t need to produce every drop of milk she gets. Plus, I can leave her for a bit more time now without stressing about how many ounces of breastmilk I have in my freezer.

+Phoebe is still spoiling us with sleep most nights. We had a rough few nights a few weeks ago and Tim bought Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit, which worked immediately. She loves the darn thing, so we love the darn thing. She still wakes up at least once per night, but we aren’t worried about that and will hopefully ‘sleep train’ her at the end of the month when life slows down a bit. And if life doesn’t slow down she’ll end up like Isabelle, who is still not a good sleeper at 3 years old. Womp.

+ Clara and Isabelle start preschool next week – hooray! Clara turned 5 in July but we decided long ago we’d be waiting until she turns 6 to start kindergarten. Having three kids at home this year is not going to be easy, but I keep telling myself it’s just a phase, and (unlike last year when I was pregnant) I can drink wine. And more wine. KIDDING. (Kind of.) Truly I’m thankful that I’ll get one full year with all of my kiddos at home with me before Clara starts school, then Isabelle will start one year later, then Phoebe a few years later, then before I know it they’ll be leaving to go to college…

+ I’ve been working from home in a part time role and I love it! I get to learn something new and make a few dollars and feel productive in a different way (other than keeping kids alive). Plus, I can feed Phoebe and help with the girls as needed and generally I feel very available while also NOT being fully available. It’s the perfect transition into the workforce for me.

+ I’ve been taking way, way longer to read library books lately. Ever since someone responded to an IG story of mine (in which I was stressed about finishing all of my books on my Kindle before they were automatically returned to the library!) and said that if you put your Kindle on airplane mode you can keep them indefinitely… well, my life has changed. I won’t finish as many books this year, but I will get more sleep!

I can’t believe it’s already September. Bring on football and chili and all of the fall things. (Or just bring back summer. That would work too.)

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