I didn’t cancel Christmas this year – success!

There are any number of ‘best of 2019!’ lists that I feel like I should be writing… but alas, I haven’t done enough reflecting to get those published tonight. Maybe tomorrow. Possibly on the 31st. Most likely I’ll finish them in like July and then won’t publish them at all. Shrug.


Popping on this space to say MERRY CHRISTMAS! And HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your holidays were everything you wanted them to be.

It’s a particularly crazy time of year in our household because Tim’s birthday is on Christmas Eve (or shall I say that Christmas Eve falls on Tim’s birthday?) so it feels like I have a lot of extra prep work to do and one less day to get it all done. Plus this year I had some *actual* work due the week of Christmas, too. But I digress, the point being, it was absolute chaos the whole week/weekend leading up to the 24th, but then the big days happened, everyone had a blast, and life has moved on!

Highlights included:

+ Tim’s birthday breakfast. We invited a few friends over and fed them breakfast. It was a super easy morning with quiche from Costco, croissants, homemade cinnamon rolls (Pioneer Woman’s recipe, of course), fruit, and pancakes. Hosting is not a spiritual gift of mine, but socializing is!

+ Christmas Eve church service. I will always love a good holiday service. The best songs. The best sermon. The best reason to celebrate… Jesus! Plus, this is a fun service because there’s always a ‘snowball fight’ at the end of church. Clara loved it and Isabelle would have loved if she had stayed awake for it. I kid you not, the entire church was flinging fake snowballs at each other and Isabelle was passed out in her chair. Girlfriend takes napping seriously and no amount of fake snow is going to wake her up. We were in the SECOND ROW of church, people. The singers were practically on top of us. It was loud. Kids were running. Isabelle was bothered by absolutely none of that nonsense and I couldn’t even rouse her enough to get her to walk to the lobby by herself. Girlfriend is 3.5 and she is NOT DROPPING THAT NAP. But if I try to get her to sleep at home in her own bed at naptime? Absolutely not.

+ Christmas adventure. We go sledding on Christmas – which is one of my better life choices/traditions. We’ve spent four Christmases in the PNW and the first two years we went snowshoeing. Lesson learned – that is not a great idea for our family. (The first year we went snowshoeing on Christmas I actually cancelled the entire holiday afterwards, and I just re-read that blog post and cracked up! What in the world was I even thinking?) Last year we transitioned to sledding and we aren’t looking back. We went to Hyak and I highly recommend it if you live in the Seattle area! Make sure you buy that Sno-Park pass and get there early – there was almost no parking there on Christmas afternoon!

+ German Christmas dinner. Lilly’s parents were in town and they hosted us at their Airbnb rental for a delicious (German) Christmas dinner! Since we don’t have family in the area, it feels extra special to be invited by another family to spend the holidays with them. Plus, they fed us, gave us presents, and made sure our glasses were full of gluhwein! They spoiled the girls with a lot of attention and it was just a really lovely evening.

Now, as you know, we’re in that random time between Christmas and New Years in which I have no idea what to actually do with myself. There’s nothing on our calendar. Like, nothing. We have no where we need to be. Nothing needs to get done. We aren’t working… The girls aren’t going to school… What is everyone else doing?! No one knows. It seems as if a lot of people have decided to be present with their families and aren’t on social media directing the rest of us on how to live our best lives. Or maybe people aren’t posting as much because they’re like me – eating leftovers, watching football, reading books, wondering if they should finish that Netflix show they started months ago… etc.

Well, soon it will be 2020 and then we can REALLY get intentional about not wasting our time and living our best lives! Until then… enjoy the last few (slothful) days of 2019!

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Adventuring With Kids: A Trip to Bend, Oregon

If you live in the PNW, a trip to Bend, Oregon should be on your immediate travel bucket list. We’ve been twice, both times in November (for Thanksgiving), and have loved it. I feel like that’s saying a lot, because the weather wasn’t particularly great either time and November is definitely the shoulder season for Bend. In the winter there is skiing at Mt Bachelor (which I hear is fantastic) and in the summer there are evidently a bijillion things to do.

We’ll be back during the winter & summer eventually, but even in the ‘off season’ we loved Bend.

Things to do (with kids!) in the winter in Bend, Oregon

Here’s What We Did:

+ Stayed at an Airbnb (use my referral link to save $55 your first booking to any Airbnb location!) in Mt Bachelor Village Resort.  Our unit was better than I had anticipated, with enough room to spread out and then some. We had three huge suites in our condo! The views of the river were fantastic and the location was great, plus there was a fireplace and a hot tub… when we return to Bend I’d definitely stay there again! (Tip: I checked VRBO and Airbnb for the same unit, and it was listed on both. Airbnb, for whatever reason, had the cheaper rate.)

+ Walked along the beautiful Deschutes River, ending up at Thump Coffee where we drank delicious coffee and warmed up from the cold! The paths along the river are great and go for about 12 miles. Even on a chilly day, there were a lot of people outside.

+ Explored the High Desert Museum. I highly, highly recommend this museum (with or without kids)! I learned a lot, and the kids had a blast. Don’t miss the outdoor exhibits to see the birds of prey, otters, and family ranch. You will need a few hours to do this museum properly, so give yourself enough time there!

Things to do (with kids!) in the winter in Bend, Oregon

Things to do (with kids!) in the winter in Bend, Oregon

+ Ate brunch (sans kids) at The Lemon Tree in Downtown Bend. The dirty chai was delicious and so was the salmon! While we ate there we were able to watch the snow fall outside the windows… it was magical! I wouldn’t necessarily call this place ‘kid friendly’, though.

+ Shopped downtown at the local boutiques. I especially love REVOLVR Menswear for clothing for Tim. I always go there without him and pick up a few things for his birthday / Christmas.

+ Went ice skating at Seventh Mountain Resort. It is beautiful there! Trees, lights, fire pits, music, affordable prices (kids under 6 ice skate free and adults are $9 without skate rentals), and when we went it wasn’t too crowded – BONUS. Last year we went to the ice skating rink at Sunriver, which we also loved, but I’d have to say that Seventh Mountain is my favorite. I love a good outdoor skating rink, and it’s only 10 minutes outside of town! (Although, Sunriver has breweries right next door, so you can’t go wrong with either place.)

Things to do (with kids!) in the winter in Bend, Oregon

+ Took the kids sledding near Pine Ridge Elementary School. We knew there was a sledding hill near there, so we drove to the school and creepily followed asked kids with sleds where to go to find the hill, and there it was, tucked in the middle of a really pretty neighborhood. There were a lot of kids sledding and everyone was so happy… I love the first big snow of the season, and evidently the kids in Bend felt the same way! We could have stayed for quite a bit longer, but Phoebe was not thrilled about missing her nap so we cut our adventure a bit short. For a short hill, I highly recommend that location!

+ Warmed up with a hot chocolate from Looney Bean before warming up some more in the soaking pool at McMenamins. Looney Bean is great because it has a wonderful view of the river, huge outdoor space for warmer days, and just a cozy vibe in Downtown Bend. McMenamins is a treasure we’ve been missing out on. The girls LOVED ‘swimming’ in the soaking pool even though we kept telling them to “SIT STILL!” and not annoy every other person in there. Sigh. Tim and I loved it because the water was almost at hot tub temperatures and we could sit in the steam and relax for a bit. Or we could if we didn’t have children we had to chase around. Eye roll. But truly, it was a magical way to spend about an hour (for $5 per person). There’s even an open ceiling, so we got snowed on while we were sitting in the warmth! Magical.

+ Drank coffee at Companion Coffeehouse. I loved being inside there, because the plants and general aesthetic made me feel like it was much warmer outside than it actually was! Plus they serve some baked goods from Sparrow. Speaking of which…

+ Ate lunch at  The Sparrow Bakery. Order an ocean roll if you’re just there for a snack – trust me.

So basically we drank a lot of hot liquids, did as many outdoorsy things as possible, went shopping, ate some delicious food, and learned a little bit about the region. It was fan-freakin-tastic. We could have stayed quite a few more days and not run out of things to do. The next time we go I want to check out the indoor pool, this restaurant, some breweries, and (if the weather cooperates) Mt Bachelor for skiing and/or Smith Rock for hiking trails! There truly seems to be infinite things to do in this area.


Note to self: take awkward family Thanksgiving photo before the kids are DONE with it all. Oh well, there’s always next year!

If you have the chance for a road trip and are wondering where to go – Bend might be your place!

** Although, I will say that we had a loooooong drive (9+ hours) there and back. A ton of snow dumped in the mountains so we actually had to leave a day early to get to Bend – talk about a hectic way to start a trip! We threw everything in the car and left. (Had we waited an extra day, we wouldn’t have made it at all. They practically shut down the mountain passes to get to Bend because of a winter storm.) Normally the drive is 6 hours (without stopping), but if you’re leaving in the winter I would say that you need to be ready for delays. And, if you’re in a minivan (like us!) bring chains to get through the mountains. One of the delays we were in was caused by a minivan spinning out in a mountain pass, causing both sides of the roads to be stopped. Luckily, we had chains and put them to good use, so we got through without issue!

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Adventuring with Kids: Holiday To-Do List

If there’s one thing I love to do, it’s write a good list! With Christmas only 16 days away (yikes!) there is a limited amount of time to do everything I want to do, but I am committed to the holiday spirit so it’s all going to happen. Hopefully. Or we’ll be exhausted trying. There are just so many holiday events near Seattle, which are especially fun with kids! I can’t wait to do it all. If you need some inspiration of things to do with your littles, take some of these ideas!


(LUCKILY I made this list months ago so I have already completed most some of it… but still, we have things to do during this holiday season!)

Here are some things on my holiday to-do list:

+ Make or buy an Advent calendar for each girl

Our au pair took care of this one for us (yay!). She bought Playmobil Advent calendars for each girl and they love opening a new piece every day. This is especially great for our family because I’m not a huge fan of the girls eating candy, so this is a good alternative.

+ Sing Christmas songs

As many times as possible. One of my favorite parts of this whole season are the Christmas songs! This is my current favorite Spotify list.

+ Decorate gingerbread houses

We buy ours from Trader Joe’s… I don’t have the motivation or the will to make them myself!

+ Attend a Nutcracker ballet performance

This was a first for us! We just went a few days ago, and the girls loved it. We went with a low key performance through the Issaquah Dance Theater. I picked this one because it was pretty inexpensive and they had an option for a 1-hour show. I just didn’t know how my girls would do at a performance with no words, but they did GREAT and didn’t want to leave at the end. Next year I might buy tickets at the Pacific Northwest Ballet‘s Nutcracker show, but those tickets are not cheap!

+ Buy a tree at a u-cut farm

In the past we’ve driven out to Carnation, but this year we went to Trinity Tree Farm in Issaquah and had a great experience! Sure, it was muddy, but that’s all a part of the experience!

+ Decorate that Christmas tree

My goal for this year was to decorate the tree without yelling at the girls too much. *Sigh* Have you ever supervised two preschoolers decorating a Christmas tree? It is a lot of chaos.

+ Go ice skating outdoors

The girls take ice skating lessons indoors all year round, but I love going outdoors in the winter, if we can! This year we had a great experience skating outside in Bend, but I would love to go again if we find a good rink nearby.

+ Bake (German) Christmas cookies

I actually don’t have a favorite cookie recipe (gasp!) so we’re going to make our au pair’s favorite German Christmas Cookies this year!

+ Send out Christmas cards

I’ve at least ordered the Christmas cards, but whether they’ll be sent out by Christmas is a true mystery. The site gave me a delivery window of anywhere from Dec 11-24th arriving at my house soooo….. who knows. If they don’t get sent by Christmas, I’m considering them ‘Happy New Years’ cards, no matter what the card actually says.

+ Drink hot chocolate

Not that we need an excuse for this, but this seems like an easy thing to check off a list, so I’m keeping it on here.

+ Create a Christmas craft with the girls

Last year a friend made holiday play dough, which the girls loved! This year they’ve done a few crafts with preschool and church but I’m hoping we can put together a small one at home, too.

+ Take pictures and see the reindeer at Swansons Nursery

This is such a fun tradition we’ve done every year since we’ve moved here. We love seeing the reindeer, and if it isn’t too crowded I attempt to get pictures of the girls in the ‘props’ they have around for just that reason. I have the cutest pics of them in sleds year after year.

+ Shop at the Edmonds Holiday Market and ride the trolley

I didn’t know about this event until last year, and I love it! On Saturdays in December there is a free trolley that drives around downtown Edmonds, and if we’re being honest I probably enjoy it more than the kids. There are also a lot of vendors selling goods at the (outdoor) market. Last year I picked up handmade earrings, soap, candles, some paper goods… and of course I sampled some wine. It’s a really nice way to spend a few hours.

+ And also shop at other local markets

There are so many markets set up at schools to raise some extra money for PTAs, etc etc. I really enjoy going to a few of these markets to support local vendors and pick up some handmade goods as gifts. Or just for myself.

+ Take the girls individually to pick out presents for each other

Our favorite place to shop is Snapdoodle Toys, which is in Seattle and Kenmore. I love supporting local when I can, and this seems like the perfect time to do it! I also think it’s really important for the girls to pick out a gift for each other.

+ Read holiday-themed books

I try to get a good mix of Christian holiday books and not-necessarily-Christian holiday books for us to read at this time of year. I keep the same ones year after year and just add one or two to our stash. I also put them away with the Christmas decorations so they’re extra-special when we take them out again.

+ Read the ‘real’ Christmas story from the Bible

Arguably this is one of the more important things on this list… I think in the hustle and bustle of the holidays we can forget to do the most essential things! Of course my kids know the Christmas story and they will learn about it at church the next few weeks, but I also want them to hear it from us, straight from the Bible.

+ Go to Stanwood to see the The Lights of Christmas display

We’ve done this the last two years, and I think it’s worth the long(ish) drive from Seattle! The lights are great, there are pony rides, train rides, a light maze, a petting zoo… all of the things. It really puts me in the holiday spirit!

+ Go sledding at Hyak, near Snoqualmie Pass (preferably on Christmas!)

We don’t always get snow in Seattle, but we can travel to it in the mountains, so that’s the plan! Our Midwestern roots require playing in the snow around/on Christmas.

+ See the Christmas lights display at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens

This has been on my list the last few years, and it somehow hasn’t happened. I really want to go this year, though! I think the girls would really enjoy it.

+ Go to a Christmas Eve church service

Last year I went by myself (while pregnant) with both girls, and it was chaos. This year I at least know what to expect! There will be no childcare offered. The girls will be sitting with me and will need lots of things to entertain themselves. I will hear and learn nothing, along with all of the other parents of small children who are just trying to get them to SIT DOWN IN YOUR SEATS. But at the end there will be cookies, so at least there’s that!

There are a few other things going on around town that are not on my list, but I feel like I should mention them, because they’re very popular! (The reason they aren’t on my list is because I feel like they’re too popular / crowded for my three little ones! These things just aren’t worth the trouble it would take to go for us this year, but maybe I’ll add them to the list when the girls are older.)

+ Zoo Lights

+ Gingerbread Village at the Sheraton

+ Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmont

+ Snowflake Lane parade in Bellevue

+ Enchant Seattle

What big things are still on your holiday to-do list?

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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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