Friday, October 19, 2018

Camping: Sequim Bay State Park

Our last camping trip of the year was at Sequim Bay State Park, only an hour or so away from our house.  It was nice to end the camping season with a nearby location.

I have mixed feelings about the campground.  There were some perks: the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) runs right through the campground, the campground sits right on the bay, and the location was close to other interesting sites like the Dungeness Spit.  Downsides: the campground was right off of a busy highway, the water/beach was not inviting for swimming, the campsites were on the small side, and the campground felt more urban than escaping.  I am not entirely sure I would make a point of going back regularly.

However, I chose Sequim Bay specifically for its proximity to the ODT.  I wanted to go on a family bike ride, and I really like the ODT.  The section near the campground is almost exclusively a separate paved trail, which is perfect for family bike riding.  This year, Finn rode his own bike and Enna graduated to the trail-a-bike.  I had a destination in mind: The Railroad Bridge Park which has a river and some fun bridges.  From a map I had consulted pre-trip, this park seemed about 5 miles from our campground.  This would make a perfect 10 mile ride for us.  I have no idea which faulty map I looked at, because in actuality, the park is a 8 mile ride from the campground.  A fact that didn't register until we had biked there. Instead of a 10 mile ride, we rode 16 instead.  Although it was significantly longer than our normal ride, I am glad we did it because Finn was so proud of his achievement of riding 16 miles!  The furthest he had gone previously on his own bike was 6 miles.  Afterwards, he still wanted to ride around the campground.  The only discomfort he felt was on his poor bum.  I need to find bike shorts for that kid.

As a side note for the bike pictures, I took my old compact point and shoot camera for those times when I wanted to document events, but didn't want to lug the large and heavy DSLR around.  This was a nice compromise since I wanted better pictures than I could achieve with my phone's camera.

Other adventures included taking a small hike in one of the wilderness areas.

Checking out the beach at the campground.

Playing horseshoes for the first time.

Hiking down to Dungeness Spit and playing with the waves Washington style.  (Which does not include actually going into the frigid cold water.)

It was a great way to end the summer.  I am so glad we made it out three times this summer.  I plan on doing the same next summer, too. 

Camping Menu

I have been trying to help myself more by doubling a recipe and freezing the extras so that I have easy options on busy days or for camping trips.  This particular trip I took advantage of those extra foods in the freezer and planned meals around what I had.  This included the frozen black beans and sloppy joe meat.  I also had previously doubled a hamburger bun recipe which meant I also had extra buns which were ready and frozen.  I do this also for the cookies/bars that we take camping, power balls which we eat as snacks, and the graham crackers for s'mores.

Lunch: Chicken salad, vegetables with hummus, grapes/apples
Dinner: Black beans and rice (frozen), cauliflower, s'mores
Breakfast: Breakfast sandwiches, hot cocoa, kefir
Lunch: Hot dogs, chips, fruit, vegetables, hummus
Dinner: Sloppy joes (frozen), broccoli, s'mores
Breakfast: pancakes and bacon, hot cocoa, kefir
Lunch: home

More photos of our camping trip can be found here.

Monday, October 15, 2018

August 2018 Happenings

August is a really physically exhausting month for me, and I feel like I might have finally identified why.  July is filled with summer camps and community activities while August is relatively blank--the idea being that most people vacation during August.  Since we take mini vacations throughout the summer, August is the month that my kids are home all day, everyday.  No wonder I am so exhausted and ready for school to start in September.

At the start of the summer, our family made a summer wish list, and surprisingly, we marked off a number of activities.  One activity I particularly wanted was to take a family bike ride to the local ice cream shop for ice cream.  As the ice cream shop is only a mile and a half away, this wasn't too strenuous of a task.  Afterwards, I cursed myself for not doing this earlier in the summer so that we could have done this more than once.

Personally, I wanted to take another long bike ride with friends since I enjoyed the last one so much.  I frantically texted Yola asking which remaining weekend would work for her.  We decided I would catch a ride out on the ferry (a first for me: biking onto the ferry.  So exciting and easy!) and we would ride the Sammish River Bike Trail--about 22 miles. The weather that weekend looked disappointing with chances of rain.  However, the rain held off most of the ride and the cloudy skies lowered the temperature into perfect biking range.  Most importantly, I didn't "crash" that evening or the next day.  Whohoo!

I had a month's reprieve with fruit, and then tackled 50 lbs of peaches and 25 lbs of pears in August.  Since we still had canned peaches from two years ago, I froze and dehydrated this year's peaches.  We go through the frozen peaches quickly since we use them everyday in smoothies.  I canned one batch of pears and then dehydrated the rest.  Unlike last year where I had pears that refused to ripen, these were ready to go the day I picked them up.  There is no rest for the weary when it comes to preserving the harvest.

We had our last camping trip of the summer.  We kept it local by camping at Sequim Bay State park.  However, that will be it's own post.

This summer, I noticed that Finn couldn't read certain road signs and license plates.  As school loomed not too far in the distance, we took him to get his eyes check.  Turns out, Finn received my genes (I too got glasses around this age.) So, Finn is now sporting these cool specs (when he remembers to put them on.)

Finally, I made a mini back-to-school capsule wardrobe for Enna.  She didn't have any non-knit pants in her drawers.  And while she had plenty of tops, she does love play dresses.  I made two pairs of Elenore jeans by Jalie.  One in a stretch denim and one in a purple stretch twill.  I made two pairs of After-school Pants by Oliver & S.  One in peacock corduroy and the other in a dark pink twill.  The play dresses were the Playtime Dress by Oliver & S made in a quilting cotton and a jersey knit.  Both fabrics featured unicorns, as per request.  I used snaps in the back vs buttons, and I love it.  I added length in the arms but added an elastic casing so that they can stay up over her wrists.

You can find more pictures of our August here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Camping: Lake Quinault

This is one of the few places at which we have camped that I knew I wanted to revisit, even though our experience was a bit mixed.  The campground is nice and small and the sites are reservable (unlike other lake campgrounds in the Olympics--looking at you Fairholm on Lake Crescent!)  The kids had the best time playing in the quite chilly lake water.  Next time, I am investing in some serious inflatables so that we can maximize the enjoyment.  Our site was similar in size to others.  However, our neighbors were a group of women in their 20's who imbibed and were loud late into the night.  As a result, I didn't try to keep my kids too quiet in the morning.  I definitely scoped out the other campsites and have marked a few for next year that I think will work better.  In fact, I have started a log to record all of camping spots and notes for particular campsites. 

To make our adventure a bit more challenging, one kid in particular did not sleep well prior to the trip.  This child and Mr. F. were exhausted at the get go.  As we never sleep well while we are camping, the exhaustion escalated.  There were a number of meltdowns, from both child and parents. 

I invested in some trekking poles to make hiking a bit more enjoyable for me and my creaky joints.  I loved them.  The kids also required trekking poles, although they were ok with sticks found on the trail.  Enna in particular was a regular hiking champ.  She made the complete four mile loop with me to our van while Mr. F. and Finn stopped at 3 miles when we reached our campsite.  (Although, Mr. F. ended up running that last mile since I forgot the van keys.  A fact I didn't register until we were almost to our car.) 

Our new packing up technique, which was started with our June trip, is to let the kids watch a video while mom and dad pack up camp.  This means there is a lot less yelling at kids while they get underfoot and tease each other as we frantically pack the van.  This trip they watched a family favorite: The Great British Bake-Off.

Also, new to us this season (starting with our June camping trip): breakfast sandwiches one morning with the pie iron.  We add cheese, ham, and scrambled egg to bread.  It makes a delicious melty-toasty sandwich.  I bought a double sandwich pie iron, and I have not be disappointed. 


Lunch: Confetti salad, vegetables and hummus, grapes/apples
Dinner: Hamburgers with buns, potato chips, broccoli, s'mores
Breakfast: Breakfast sandwiches in pie iron, hot cocoa/kefir
Lunch: Chicken chili (defrosted), fruit, vegetables and hummus
Dinner: Chicken fried rice, s'mores
Breakfast: pancakes, bacon, hot cocoa/kefir
Lunch: sandwiches

You can see more pictures from our camping trip here.

Monday, September 17, 2018

July Happenings 2018

The kids are in school which means I have some blissful quiet moments in my life that can be spent doing things I enjoy, like documenting the minutia of our life.  ;)  Also, I am avoiding the process of fitting/sewing pants, so blogging it is.

Celebrating: the 4th of July.  Now that we live in Washington, and it doesn't get dark until 10 o'clock in the summer, there is even less of a chance that we will stay up and watch fireworks.  Instead, we bought "quiet" fireworks that made a lot of color and sparkle but only a little sound. 

Our rental has a fire pit, so we built a fire, roasted our hot dogs, and paired them with chips, veggies and hummus, a fruit salad, and a pound cake with fresh berries and cream.  In Maryland, we often had a blueberry and cream pie.  However, blueberries ripen later in Washington.  Instead, we enjoyed strawberries and blackberries. 

Driving: kids to their various summer camps.  Finn tried out soccer for the first time and loved it, and Enna tried out Ballet and also loved it.  Enna's second camp was a Nature Art Camp at the local Parks and Rec which she enjoyed as well.

Camping: at Lake Quinault in the Olympic Peninsula.  A separate post is forthcoming.

Solo Parenting: Mr. F. had to leave the day after we returned from camping for a week long class/training in Massachusetts.  I was fine, until I wasn't.  The kids woke me up a few times a night for the first few nights.  I can no longer function with interrupted and insufficient sleep without becoming seriously depressed.  By day four, I was calling Mr. F. sobbing because I just couldn't deal with life.  It would have been better if the trip was during the school year, because I could regroup during the day, but there was no chance of that with kids being home all day.

Finished: 100 hours of reading.  This was the first year keeping track for me.  Those 100 hours add up quickly when you are listening to audiobooks constantly at 1.5 speed.  The kids earned theirs quickly too, again with the aid of audiobooks.  My kids binge on audiobooks like other kids binge watching TV.  (Yes, I think my kids would prefer to binge watching TV over audiobooks any day. #meanparent)

Explored: some new to us playgrounds.  We managed three new ones which was less than I would have thought but better than none.

Swam: We took a break from swim lessons for the month of July, but started them again for the end of August.  (And then taking another break until we get used to going to school again.)

You can see more pictures of our July shenanigans here.

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.


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