Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Camping: Sol Duc Hot Springs

This year, I wanted to camp three times during the summer: June, July, and August.  In June, this meant camping shortly after school let out.  It also interfered with the last day of track camp for Finn.  However, luckily due to field maintenance, etc., the track meet normally on the last day of camp was moved to Thursday instead.  So, we didn't miss the track meet, and only missed a few hours of the last day. 

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort Campground is located in the Olympic National Park and is about a 3 hour drive from where we live.  Based on facility maps and campground pictures, I picked what turned out to be a nice site: large and separated a bit from other campsites.  It was also not too far from the bathrooms, but was a bit far for lugging a tub of water.  Kids had fun playing "candy shop" using hollowed out tree trunks with pinecones, pieces of bark, and whatever else they could find.  They also challenged each other to walk as far as possible without touching the ground since there were lots of fallen tree trunks.

While we were there, we hiked to Sol Duc Falls (about a mile).  We also spent the afternoon at the hot springs.  The hot springs are circular pools with three different temperatures.  There is also a large freshwater (unheated) swimming pool.  The hot springs were rather crowded when we were there.  It was like hanging out in a bathtub with a crowd of strangers.  The kids liked the warmth, but wanted room to swim and play (shockingly, no one was in the freshwater pool on a 60 degree, cloudy day.)  Enna in particular wanted to go back and forth between the warm hot springs and the refreshingly *snort* cool freshwater pool which we did a few times. It was painfully shocking each time. 

I finally bought a new sleeping pad (A big agnes q-core delux sleeping pad.) which resulted in my first enjoyable sleep while camping.  I often sleep on my side and bottomed out with the my previous pad causing a lot of stiffness.  This pad nicely cushions my hips and shoulders.  Mr. F. however still gets kicked and prodded since he gallantly takes the spot between kids, and has yet to sleep well.

On our drive back, we lunched at Nourish, a certified gluten-free restaurant in Sequim, WA.  Unfortunately, they were only served brunch, my least favorite.  However it was nice to eat someplace safe.

It was a great camping trip to start our summer. 

Camping Menu

Lunch: at home

Dinner: Taco salad with frozen taco meat, chips, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, grated cheese, steamed broccoli. S'mores for dessert.

Breakfast: breakfast sandwiches (ham, scrambled eggs, cheese) using pie-iron, hot cocoa, kefir.

Lunch: taco quesadillas, fruit, vegetables, hummus.

Dinner: chicken, pepper, snap-pea salad, hash browns (frozen), s'mores for dessert.

Breakfast: breakfast burritos (ham, scrambled eggs, cheese, hash browns), hot cocoa, kefir

Lunch: Nourish

There are a few more pictures from our trip here.

Friday, August 10, 2018

June Happenings

Despite the fact that the kids are driving me crazy, summer is flowing by.  However, unlike some places, we don't start school until September, so we have another month of summer to enjoy, for better or for worse.  Perhaps I can get caught up in posts before school starts.  

In June: 

We Visited the local Medieval Faire for the first time.  It was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.  It was also HOT.  (o.k.  It was 70, but with full sun.)  I felt sorry for the participants in full historical outfits, not to mention those participating in events requiring full armor.  The kids had a blast checking out battles, trying on helmets, watching people fence, and watching participants shoot arrows, spears, and axes.  For a while, Finn was under the misconception that he could try these things--not realizing the level of skill needed to shoot an arrow and not harm anyone in the process.  I see us going again, though perhaps not every year.

We Celebrated the end of Preschool and 2nd Grade.  Enna finished preschool first.  Her last day was a party at a Lutheran camp situated on a local lake.  There was no life guard to supervise swimming in the lake, so a slip-n-slide was set up instead.  As it was in the mid 60's with a wind, I was glad.  Enna loved preschool this year.  Her teachers were fabulous, and we made some good friends.  However, as we moved locations toward the end of the year, the last two months meant spending two hours in the car driving to and from preschool.  That got old really quick.  I was glad to be done with driving that far and that often.     

Finn had another week or two before he was done.  I am glad that we switched to the local school after our move.  The new teacher met his needs better than his previous one, and he now is more familiar with the school and the people which will be helpful as he starts third grade.  

Enna Lost her first tooth! And we think she swallowed it in the process of eating dinner.  One moment it was there, and the next it wasn't.  Luckily, the tooth fairy still came.  Phew.

We Horded fruit.  We picked around 40 pounds of strawberries which we froze, jammed, and made into fresh strawberry pie.  We also picked up 75 pounds of cherries which we canned, jammed, froze, dried, and ate a lot of.  

Finn Attended track camp.  This was is second year going.  We saw familiar faces from last year, which was great.  The coaches are so encouraging and keep track of personal records and how they compare every year.  It was 5 hours a day for a week, and it was exhausting for him in the best possible way.  I was impressed by how nice and encouraging the kids are to each other despite the wide age range.  I feel like my experiences as a child in similar situations were not this way.  I might even have some scarring left over that I now cary over in worry and anxiety to my children.

We Camped at Sol Duc Hot Springs.  I like to give these there own separate post, so more on that next.

And that was our June!  More pictures of our June happenings here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Finn: 8 is Great!

Life moves at a crazy pace right now, which is why I am writing about Finn's 8 birthday in the middle of summer break.  However, I don't want to forget this.  

Finn's birthday happened right during our move.  The weekend before his birthday, we rented a moving van and moved 90% of our stuff.  The week before his birthday was spent moving the smaller items from the house in batches as we drove to school and back again.  The week after his birthday, we spent cleaning the previous rental house and moving into our current one.

The main gift we planned was a 24" bike.  Prior to this, Finn rode a 16" bike that was way too small for him (obviously).  I wanted to invest in a really nice bike since we prioritize family bike rides.  I wanted him to cover our typical mileage (about 10+ miles) on his own, and since we live someplace hilly, gears are a must.  We also planned another gift that he really wanted: a large nerf gun, since it is nice to have more than a single gift to open on one's birthday.  However, although we ordered these items far enough in advance (or so we thought) to get here on his birthday, neither of them did.  The bike was back ordered until the end of the month, and the nerf gun was mis-delivered to an address all the way across the state.  So, the night before the big day, Mr. F. frantically purchased some small items for Finn to open on his birthday.  We also had to buy a birthday banner since we couldn't locate our other one.  (It being packed in all the boxes we had just moved.)  I cropped out the towers of boxes in the pictures below, but know that they are there!

For birthday breakfast, I made him peanut butter waffles and for dinner: ground beef tacos, steamed broccoli, and pumpkin pie.

Bedhead for the win!

Camping table set up in the cooking area waiting for a rug to protect the carpet in the dining area.
A couple of weeks after his birthday, he finally received his main gifts: the nerf gun and bike.  Both were huge hits.  He loves riding his new bike and has no trouble on hills.  I sometimes have a hard time keeping up with him on my bike!

8 is a particularly special birthday for us in our faith.  It is the age when kids can choose to be baptized as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We believe eight is the age of accountability, where they have an understanding of right and wrong and can act accordingly.  After the baptism (which is done by immersion in a baptismal font or larger body of water: pool, lake, river, etc.), a child receives the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those who hold the Priesthood. Due to scheduling, Finn was baptized with two other boys from the congregation (ward) about a month after his Birthday.  The timing worked beautifully as both sets of grandparents were able to be there to celebrate and participate in his Baptism.  Mr. F. baptized Finn, and Grandpa confirmed and blessed him with the Holy Ghost.  Sharing the day with two other families was nice as well as it meant less planning on my part.  We all contributed to the program (Grandma gave a talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost) and to the refreshments afterwards (gluten-free/nut-free homemade chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting)  There was a slight problem with one of the parents bringing in a cookie platter containing nut cookies that caused me to freak the heck out, but all in all, it was a wonderful day. 

I wrote up a letter to Finn after his baptism, telling him what I remembered about the day and how I felt so that he could read it later and remember.  I also asked for his feelings.  He said simply, "it was awesome."  Months later, I still recall his beaming smile he carried around all day.  He was a happy, happy kid.  Happy Birthday Finn!  You are such a great kid.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Enna turns 5!

Actually, Enna turned 5 on February 14th, but since life was so crazy, I am writing about it many months later.

At five, Enna loves pretty, fancy, beautiful things.  She enjoys making necklaces out of beads.  She wants clip-on earrings for Christmas.  She loves it when I put her hair in braids and ponytails.  She wants to be a ballerina when she grows up.  (And wants me to put her in ballet classes so that she knows HOW to be a ballerina.)  She loves Angelina Ballerina and Fancy Nancy books, but also enjoys Geronimo Stilton and other fantasy books just like her brother.  She loves to pretend she is a baby animal.  The animal changes daily, but is often magical in some way or another.  Despite liking very "girly" things, she also has a big brother and so enjoys playing games with the boys at preschool. 

She is thoughtful and smart.  She currently can easily read books with short vowel sounds.  Her preschool teachers often remark about how bright and studious she is.  At the moment, she is at the tricky stage where she wants to write and read more than she can.  She frequently asks me to spell all the words and it is frustrating a bit for both of us. 

She is sensitive and gets upset easily.  (I feel like I relate a lot.  I remember being the same way.)  However, she calms down easily too.  It is hard to remain strong when her big eyes pool with unshed tears of utter sadness. 

Due to Mr. F being gone the week of her birthday and then Enna also wanting to have a birthday party, we had an extended celebration.  They day before her birthday, She celebrated in preschool.  (They had a Valentine's party on Valentine's Day and they didn't want her birthday overshadowed.)  On her Birthday, I made her requested orange and cranberry muffins with colored sugar on top.  She also had flavored yogurt--something the kids have only on rare occasions. 

The weekend after her birthday when Mr. F was back from his trip, we had her birthday dinner and cake and family gifts.  For her birthday meal she requested meatloaf (which she eats with loads of ketchup), mashed potatoes, and cauliflower.  For her birthday cake she wanted, "vanilla cake with pink vanilla icing and white lettering and sprinkles."  I made this cake.  I used my 6" cake pans which makes a lovely small double cake with half the batter of a normal cake recipe.  It ends up being the perfect amount of cake for us.  For gifts she was asking for legos, books, a mermaid costume, and fancy stuff (headbands and hair bows.)

And finally, she also wanted a birthday party.  I really tried to discourage this as I really dislike the idea of hosting a kid birthday party (this was our first one.) But she would not be dissuaded.  We ended up throwing the party two weeks after her birthday.  The theme was "Princesses and Dragons."  I spent quite a bit of time on Pinterest and came up with the following:

  • Foam crowns to decorate.
  • Plastic goblets to decorate with adhesive jewels.  Used as water glass for refreshments
  • Play "Pin the flame on the dragon"
  • Play "Slay dragon with foam swords"--jab at balloon tower until balloons are all gone with foam swords which kids got to keep.
  • Play build castles with blocks and tiles.  Take straws and try to blow q-tips from them.  (Most kids did not really have the lung capacity to do this successfully.)
  • Fire-breathing dragon craft (glue dots are your friend for this.)
  • Refreshments: cupcakes (same as birthday cake, but now in cupcake form), grapes, strawberries, pretzels and water.
  • Open gifts

And then collapse after running around for an hour and a half.  The kids had a lot of fun, but it was a lot of work even with keeping it fairly simple.  I told Enna that she could invite 5 kids.  We tried to be clear that this was a small party and to keep mum about it around preschool.  However, word got out (from a loud parent), and I had a mom come up and ask me why her daughter wasn't invited. Ugh.  That was unpleasant.

I love my little my little friend.  She brings a lot of joy and laughter to our family.  I love how she becomes more of a person with each year, but also sad that she is growing up and not a baby anymore. 


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Sewing: Enna's Quilt

Picture taken in our old rental.  The quilt looks so much better in her new room!
Back in 2015 after I finished sewing Finn's quilt, I said I would give myself a year or so before I tackled Enna's.  *laughter at my crazy optimism*  Three years later, I have Enna's quilt finished. 

The fabric for both quilts was purchased at the same time.  Enna's fabric was a Robert Kaufman collection called Little Kukla.  You still can find some but not all of the prints in the collection.  I am so glad that I purchased it when I did because I adore all of this fabric: dolls, churches, buttons, birds, and flowers.  The slavic feel of the prints takes me back to my time in Ukraine.  It also seems perfect for a girl's quilt, and I love how it incorporates so many colors not just your pinks and purples. 

I didn't even have plans to work on this quilt quite yet despite having the fabric hanging around.  I was going to instead focus on making myself some wardrobe staples.  However, every time I went to look through my fabric, I saw the fabric for this quilt staring up at me reproachfully and taking up a lot of space.  Also, I realized that if I waited any longer, Enna might be the age where she would loose interested in a quilt made with that fabric. So, I put my other sewing plans on hold and tackled this instead.

I started this early October of last year.  I decided I wanted it done by the time my in-laws visited for Halloween so that I would have help basting the top to the other layers--by far the worst part of quilting, and the most problematic step.  This quilt came together so much quicker.  The three extra years of sewing practice became quite apparent.  However, I am still not a very good quilter.  I have the hardest time making everything come out square.  And I really want more than a quarter inch seam allowance!  I quilted this on my machine using straight horizontal lines just like I did with Finn's. 

I finished the quilt in January 2018 making it almost exactly three years after I finished Finn's.  Whew!

Below is a picture of Finn's quilt shortly after it was made.  Look at my little babies!  They are so grown up now.  *Sob!*

Monday, April 30, 2018

Hello from a new zip code

Alternatively titled: proof that making goals is pointless venture.

In October, I felt inspired to live life more intentionally.  I perhaps had read of some remarkable accomplishments made by couples who routinely set goals and wanted to also achieve similar remarkable accomplishments. In general, I don't formally set goals: I find that for various reasons (i.e. life) these goals are never realized, and then I feel depressed.  However, I felt compelled to change my ways.  Specifically, I proposed to make small changes to our rental home of two years to make it feel more permanent: finish unpacking all of our boxes, downsize our belongings even more to fit in the small space, and plant a vegetable garden.

I was most excited about the vegetable garden.  I contacted our property manager to ask for permission to put raised beds in the backyard.  I specifically asked if the owners were planning to sell in a few months when our lease expired as I didn't want to go through the work of construction only to move them.  I received word that we were allowed to put in the raised beds, and Mr. F. got to work building them.

Three months later, at the beginning of January, we received notification from the property manager that the owners were considering selling the property at the end of our lease (end of March).  However, the property manager downplayed the likelihood of this actually happening as her experience had shown that many owners choose not to sell after meeting with a real estate agent.  We proceeded with life with cautiously.  However, we chose not to fill the raised beds that we had built (although it was the time of year to do so.)

It was late February, and Mr. F. had just hung pictures on the wall.  Pictures that had been packed away for two years.  Uneasy in not knowing whether or not we had to move, I again contacted the property manager asking for an update.  "Did we need to move?"  The answer came back affirmative: the owners were indeed selling.  I joked to Mr. F., "You cursed us by hanging up the pictures!"

Although I had been following Zillow and the rental market for two months at this point, we had made no action, hoping that we could stay.  Now that we actually needed to move, we saw very few options.  In the end, there were two houses that were reasonably priced and in acceptable locations.  One house was a similar distance from Mr. F.'s work but in a very suburban neighborhood of older houses and subdivisions.  The elementary school rating was o.k. at best and the building itself looked quite utilitarian.  Plus, it was in a different school district.  The second house was farther away by 15 minutes in a quaint little town next to the sound.  The school was the best in our current district and surrounded by a wooded area with trails.  The house had been updated with new paint and carpet and was on a well-kept street facing the water.  Both houses were the same price--which unfortunately was a bit more than our current rent. (In the two years of our living here, rental prices have increased by at least $200.)

We settled on the second option: the nicer house with the longer commute.  The owner let us sign a two-year lease, giving us a a bit more stability.  Our lease overlapped by a few weeks so that we had time to move and clean our previous rental.

In writing, things worked out quite nicely.  Yet, I am still bummed about the lack of a vegetable garden, and the upheaval that moving brought to our comfortable routine.  Life has a way of rapidly changing and trampling on all of one's best laid plans.  Instead of living super intentionally and achieving remarkable accomplishments, I have instead spent the past few months putting out fires.  First there was the stress of the unknown: will we have a house?  Do we even need to look for a house?  Then there was the stress of finding a place to live: What could we afford? How small of a place could we live in? Where would we be the happiest? How far away from work did we want to live? Why were there not any houses to rent?! And once we had found a place to live, you might think we would have felt some peace.  But instead there was the stress of packing, moving, cleaning, and then unpacking.  And amidst this chaos there were birthdays to celebrate, parties to plan, and life to live.

So this is all to say, "Hey, we moved and life has been super busy since I last posted!"  *waves* But also to ask truthfully how people/families actually make goals and accomplish them, because every time I try, life gets in the way.

Pictures are from the neighborhood beach of our new location.  So, yeah, I guess I shouldn't grumble too much, eh?

Monday, January 29, 2018

2017 in Review: Sewing

This is my first year reviewing my sewing projects, because this is the first year I have actually sewn for myself (beyond a couple of items) and have sewn regularly.  (2015 actually doesn't look too shabby.)  Since this is the first time reviewing my sewing, I put together a timeline.  In August of 2013, I decided that I wanted to learn how to sew clothes, and I sewed my very first article of clothing as an adult: A dress for Enna.

2013 (2)
Dress for Enna
Pajama pants for Mr. F.

2014 (3)
Weighted Blanket
Grey and Yellow Dresses for Enna

2015 (26)
Quilt for Finn
Red Riding Hood Cape for Enna
11 pairs of shorts for both kids
Pants and 2 shirts for Finn
First shirt for me
2 pants for Enna
2 dresses for Enna
4 pairs of yoga pants for kids
skirt for me

2016 (17)--moved mid-year
2 shirts for kids
Apron for Enna
Robe for Enna
2 scarves for kids
2 trick-or-treat bags
3 dresses for Enna
2 pairs of pajama pants for Enna
4 pairs of pants for kids

2017 (31)
4 fleece pants for kids
2 scout tees for me
2 cappuccino tunics for me
4 shorts for Finn
2 hiking pants for kids
3 Esme shirts for me
8 pajama bottoms
1 swim shirt
1 swim suit
3 metro T's for me
Apron for me

It took me a couple of years to get my groove, so to speak.  I didn't make anything for me until 2015 at which point I made a shirt and an undocumented skirt.  In 2016, we moved earlier in the year which also hampered any sewing projects.  But 2017 was the year!  Before I made the list, I thought that I predominately sewed for myself, since those projects took proportionately longer what with the billions of muslins that I had to make.  However it turns out that I made 11 items for myself and 20 items for the kids (almost half of those were the pajama bottoms that I batched sewed.)

2017 was a year of learning how to fit shirts.  I made numerous muslins.  I learned that I have a broad back (mostly upper), sloping shoulders, an upper rounded back, burly arms (snort!), and a shorter than average distance between my shoulders and bust.  I also decided that I prefer a darted bodice vs a more relaxed boxy look.  I realized that the biggest factor in learning to make clothes that fit is practice.  Practice, practice, practice.

2017 was a year of sewing with new-to-me fabrics: rayon challis, linen, supplex (nylon-like), wool jersey, and swimsuit fabric.

Looking back, I am super proud of how much I have learned in a fairly short period of time!  Kids clothes are great practice, and I have learned a lot from some really well-written and well-drafted patterns.

Life Lesson: you just have to put in the time.  And the more time you practice, the better you are.

Sewing goals for 2018: Keep on sewing.  Learn how to fit pants.  Make a button-down shirt.  Fill in those clothing holes in my closet.


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