Happy Conference Weekend!

This weekend was our church’s spring General Conference. There are four general sessions, two each on Saturday and Sunday for two hours each session. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year. I always come away from conference feeling spiritually edified and inspired. This weekend was no different. I’m grateful that baby is holding out, so we could enjoy this weekend together. I’ve worked hard over the years to make conference weekend something special for the boys. So I was thrilled when I heard Scotland exclaim to Anders as they snuggled on the rocking chair and chatted in the early morning hours, “Anders, it’s conference weekend!” Most of their excitement revolves around the special food that accompanies conference: cinnamon rolls, candy when they find the picture of the leader speaking, etc. But, I’d be selling them short if I didn’t give them credit for the joy they feel while listening to the talks and hearing the music. They both spent a significant amount of time just sitting watching and listening, commenting on the beautiful music, or the content of the talks. Considering their ages, they did a terrific job.

We took advantage of the gorgeous weather on today to enjoy a lot of family time- having a picnic between sessions, climbing our trees out back, and riding bikes at the playground in the afternoon. Scotland made it to a major milestone today: He’s now riding a pedal bike! We took the training wheels and pedals off his bike several months ago to turn it into a balance bike. Today Tom put the pedals back on and he immediately took to it. It’s really quite a spectacular transition- especially if you’re used to the more typical scene of the parent running behind the bike and grimacing as the child crashes, over and over. We’re so proud of him.

Both feet off the ground!

We’ve had a lot of bike time the last two weeks, and Anders has made significant progress on his strider as well. (Can I just say, that was the most perfectly chosen birthday gift!) While we were picnicking at the park with friends on Friday he started lifting up his feet while he cruised down the ramp at the park! And he’s now sitting on the seat and taking long gliding steps with his feet. It’s HILARIOUS to watch. And Tom and I both felt bad for repeatedly snickering. He’s very proud of his bike, and is very serious and persistent with it.

Boy do we love having a playground walking distance from our house!

Seeing both of these boys speeding around on their bikes makes me SO happy. I’m already planning summer bike rides, and thrilling at the thought of jogging along side them with baby in the stroller. I think I’ll spring for a baby seat on my bike when she’s old enough so we can all ride together.

We’ve seen so much more of Tom the last few weeks, which has been SO wonderful. This weekend just really felt like normal family life- we had a s’more roast with friends, Tom and I watched a movie together, we had meals together, we laughed, and enjoyed our boys. And it just felt so right. We both feel really grateful that we’ve had this time leading up to our baby’s birth, so we can welcome her in with warmth, love and genuine joyful anticipation.

It’s fall, we went on vacation

Summer has been over for a good month, but it’s really felt like it the last week or so. There’s been a culinary shift. We eat pretty seasonally, since the bulk of our diet is vegetable based. Butternut squash has replaced green beans, applesauce- fresh berries. Today I made a batch of Myrtle’s applesauce. Grandma Myrtle was a dear friend whom we adopted in Cleveland as Scotland’s “Grandma.” She cooked great southern food, including a scrumptious applesauce. I hope I never forget the time we stopped by to visit and, as was the norm, she sat us down at her table to eat. Scotland was just starting on solids, but I gave him a taste of what amounted to apple pie in puree form, sans crust. He downed the whole bowl so fast I hardly got a taste. Myrtle happily supplied me with a large second helping. The next fall I called to ask the secret to her fabulous sauce: “Oh, you just cook down a variety of apples then add butter, sugar, and cinnamon until it tastes good!” Butter! I wouldn’t have come to that on my own. So today, I made a batch of applesauce that even Myrtle would agree “tastes good” with plenty of butter, sugar and Penzies apple pie spice. It’s divine. I think of Myrtle often, I miss her, but I feel closer to her now, that she’s in heaven. I like to think she can hear me when I talk to her, and that she checks in on me, just like she used to. We love you, Grandma Myrtle.

We spent the week in the San Juan Islands, Orcas Island specifically. One of the perks of Tom’s job is that he gets four weeks of vacation. And they can only be taken in two one week chunks and one two week chunk. We can request certain months for vacation, but specific dates are chosen for us, and they are selected in July for the following year. It forces us to plan, and make use of his time, as it is so special. It also means they don’t always coincide with family get togethers. I hate that Tom often misses my family reunions, but we appreciate that it gives us time as a little family to get away and make memories. We rented a small cabin that was right on the water. We spent our three days there playing in the sand, hiking, fishing, cooking over the fire and BBQ, eating outside, driving around the island, and enjoying the resort’s spa. The first day was gorgeous, the second rainy, and the third overcast. We made the most of the weather, hiking despite the rain, and enjoying family time playing games and reading books inside, but we were all thrilled the the rain cleared the third day so we could return to the beach, the pier, and the breathtaking outdoors. I’m really glad that we chose a place on the water, because Orcas Island has very limited public access to the water. The place we stayed West Beach Resort, had a good stretch of beach and a long dock from which to take in the scenery. The boys got drenched and totally sandy a few times each day. I was grateful that a change of clothes was only a few strides away! The ferry ride there is a good fifty minutes of sheer beauty. Islands dot the landscape in layers, with Mount Baker faint as a backdrop.

Now for pictures:

Day 1:

Ferry Ride

I tried hard to capture the beauty of the islands on our way in. But you just can’t capture the expanse. They seem to go on endlessly. It made me reflect on how incredible the human eye is. What a creative masterpiece. Despite my fancy camera, it couldn’t come close to capturing what I could see. 

Scotland was most excited about “discovering secret passage ways” in the ferry. Something he and Tom did last time they rode the ferry together. Tom as always, was willing to indulge his appetite, so the three of them set off to try out every stair well, elevator, and hallway. Leaving me to savor the wind in my hair, and the beauty before me.

I was determined to spot any whales that were had to be spotted. We were rounding the corner from Lopez island to Orcas when there they were two orca whales! We saw them dive in and out of the water several times, just as the captain instructed us all to return to our vehicles. We waited and watched a little longer before a firmer voice repeated the demand. I was tickled pink that my persistence had paid off, my wish granted, and that my two boys saw their first whales in the wild! (Lucky ducks!)

Our cabin- #4.

Beachfront property. Sigh. Scotland suggested we buy a house by the water in the future. I’m right there with you bud. (Well, except for the constant supply of sandy wet laundry!) 

Scotter and I had a blast building a “fish trap” on the beach the first afternoon, while the two other boys slept. I found that waterproof pants, boots, and rubber gloves made for a much more pleasant beach experience for me. Then I was willing to get “into it” just as much as Scotland, without getting squeamish about the bugs jumping out of the sand, or wet pants. I’d wished I would have sprung for waterproof pants for Scotland before this trip. He may be getting thigh-high waders for Christmas!

Our first night, we were treated to a beautiful sunset. A real treat since we didn’t see the sun the rest of the time we were there. We had tin foil dinners and s’mores for dinner the first night- note my boys there around the fire in the bottom right. (The tin foil dinners were a huge success- They had precooked and marinated BBQ chicken, diced baked potato, corn and onion slices. The BBQ flavored everything and the fire gave it all a delicious smoked flavor. The fact that everything was pre-cooked was key- it was just a matter of heating it up!)Day 2:

The second day it rained all day. But we were determined to make the most of it, so we set off in the morning to explore Moran State Park.

All started well. Anders and I were fully suited up- totally rain proof. Tom and Scotland were only covered on top, and had water proof shoes.

We chose the mountain lake loop, and stopped to play at the lake about a fourth a mile in. A poor decision. Scotland was thrilled to play in the water, as always, but fell in not longer after getting there. Which didn’t deter him from having a fabulous time at the lake, but did result in a less than happy camper once we hit the trail again. Let’s just say we didn’t make it the full four miles.

The boys would have happily played by the lake the whole day, throwing rocks, building boats, and being boys.

Note Ander’s rock!

After a long play session at the lake we set off again from the trail. But what followed was a good half hour of whining and crying from Scotland, negotiating/pleading/demanding from Tom and I, until finally I grabbed his hand and started skipping along belting out such greats as “Do you Ears Hang Low” and “Shinnamerinkadinkadink!” which lessened his displeasure, but didn’t completely stop it until I made him the soloist of “The Wheels on the Bus-” “The baby on the bus says: motioning to him” He immediately grew silent, laughing as over and over I sang the prompt “The baby on the bus says Scotter, that’s your part!” He thought it was hilarious and requested I sing that song the rest of the way back. Despite the emotional duress Scotland’s cold, wet state brought upon all of us we still enjoyed a beautiful, though brief hike.

Thanks to Anders rain suit. He was happy as a clam!

On our way home we saw a bunch of deer and then a huge bullfrog hoping across the road! I HAD to pull over. It’s not everyday a boy gets to see a frog that big. Of course I had to catch it, because well, that’s what you do when you see a frog right?!

The rest of the day was spent working on the Snap Circuit, reading, and goofing off in the cabin. We did head out before dinner to buy a fresh salmon to grill up, which was fabulous! Tom and I enjoyed seeing more of the island. We at dinner on the patio, listening to the rain pitter pater as we enjoyed grilled cheese and tomato soup, and salmon.

Day 3:

Anders and I were up first so we sneaked out to enjoy the early morning quiet so the other two could sleep.

We were rewarded with a bald eagle site-ing as well as fish, crabs, a starfish and of course lots of sea birds. With the rain cleared Anders enjoyed his breakfast out next to the water, and Scotter enjoyed a pre-breakfast sand session.

After breakfast, I took Scotland fishing. We rented a pole and tried our luck with hotdogs at the end of the dock. (As was recommended.) He had several tiny fish bite, and several larger fish sniff, but no takers. I was proud of his patience, and persistence, but after a good half hour lacking in excitement, he decided to move on to other things. I was surprised at my desire to teach him to fish, to show him the joys of fishing, the thrill of teasing the fish, the art of imitating the fly, worm, etc. I don’t think of myself as a fisherman, but I fished every summer growing up on our family backpacking trips, and I can appreciate the thrill of taking in a fish! I’ll admit I was disappointed that I didn’t have a license, and couldn’t try my own hand at snagging those whoppers down below.

We visited Eastsound that afternoon, it’s a charming tiny little town with a couple streets full of darling shops and restaurants. I’m always a sucker for the beautiful potted flowers tourist towns such as these support.

Day 4:

We headed back to the mainland around noon. After eating a scrumptious brunch at the Island Skillet. Fortunately the clouds had blown off and it was, again, a gorgeous clear ferry ride. We wrapped up our trip with a visit to Mt. Erie in Anacortes. The view was beyond breathtaking. Almost unworldly. Pictures can’t come close:

For future reference here’s my brief review of the vacation: We were really grateful we chose to rent a cabin instead of tent it. For one it was really wet, and we all appreciated our sleep. We had more struggles than we would have liked with Scotland. (I’m really appreciating our spacious house after our tiny cabin.) If we go again I’ll be sure to supply Scotland with water-proof gear, so he can go out whenever he wants without getting chilled. Next time I’ll plan it more thoroughly. There was a lot of “So what do we do now?” The indecision was hard on all of us. I liked having a kitchen, even though we did eat primarily pre-prepared foods. While it was nice to be there on the shoulder season because of it being quieter, and a little cheaper. I think we’ll go when the weather is more reliably nice in the future. We made the best of it, but we ended up in the cabin more than any of us would have liked. All in all we had a wonderful time, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to leave behind the projects, stresses, and distractions of our home for some wonderful family time in a gorgeous place!

Zion’s National Park

After our wonderful day at Bryce we headed to Zion’s National Park. We started our visit with the Canyon Overlook trail, which was a real winner- a perfect way to be introduced to the grandeur of the park. Scotland got his taste of 4-year-old “high adventure” aka rock climbing, and trails running alongside steep drop offs.

Scotter is like his Mom in his preference for unpaved, rugged paths. He LOVED this trail with it’s natural rock steps and abundance of boulders to climb. (He always chooses the path least traveled.)

“Look Mom, I’m a rock climber!”

Anders was SO happy being outdoors all day. He enjoyed the pack, even taking a long nap the second day. Though he was always thrilled when we got him out to hike, play in the water or red sand.

We all played in the sand at the top for a good hour. Gotta love a nature vacation for teaching you to slow down and enjoy the simple things.

We swung by to see the popular “Weeping Rock,” It was, unfortunately, less impressive that time of year, being void of the fern and flowers its known for. Though the boys liked running through the dripping water. After our stunning drive to the park and a couple of fun hikes we headed to St. George to connect with Tom’s folks at the condo we rented together. The next day we spent exploring St. George and the Red Rocks Recreational area.

St. George Temple

We visited the St. George temple- which must have been recently painted because it was blindingly white. I’ve always wanted to visit the Nauvoo temple and have regretted we didn’t make the trip while we lived in Cleveland. So it was fun to see the St. George temple since the design is the same. Tom’s Dad told us a story about his grandparents. They traveled a good distance to be married in the St. George temple, and at that time there were rooms at the top of the temple where honeymooners could stay the first night after they were sealed! Apparently that small circle near the top, is the window of the room!

We felt so lucky that it worked out last minute to connect with Pam and Stan. They are such adoring grandparents and the boys always soak up their attention.

We spent a bit of time in the visitor’s center. I had a really sweet experience with Scotland. Talking about the Christus and walking through the room with artwork portraying the life of the Savior. He’s a spiritual curious and sensitive boy. And I love getting to share this beautiful side of existence with him.

We visited several of the church history sites there such as the above, Brigham Young’s winter home.

His actual bed and cane.

Brigham was quite ill much of the time while he lived here, he did most of his business in this upstairs room. Just outside of the room at the top of the stairs was a window that he would often stand at and look out- as he could see the progress on both the tabernacle and the temple from there. It was moving to think of the great man with extraordinary vision who lived in these quarters.

Red Cliffs recreational area

The colors were so beautiful- with the bright spring green of the cottonwood trees, the brilliant blue sky and the orangish-red rock.

Playing in the sand with Poppa. I always appreciate how willing my father-in-law is to get down and play with my boys. (Notice that he and Anders are matching. Blue jeans and a gray polo! It wasn’t intentional, but certainly cute.)

Boys in ball caps. A favorite.

We had so much fun exploring this place. Scotland crawled up one hole and proclaimed: “I just POPPED right out of the ground!”


Hiking is one of my favorite activities with the boys. I feel like we’re both in our element and we connect better. Sometimes at home I don’t feel like the “fun one” because I get focused on keeping things clean, teaching, and keeping the household running. But outdoors I’m all about adventure, energy and exploration.  I’m realizing that I really need to plan at least a monthly hike with the boys. We all love it, and we live in the perfect area for it. We finished the day off with pizza, milkshakes, and a movie at the Condo. Mmmm!

The next day we headed back to Zions, this time with Pam and Stan. We started off with the Riverside walk.

Anders thought it was a severe injustice that Scotland could walk in the river and he couldn’t.  (I finally bought him rain boots today!) In my opinion kids should live in rain boots. They just lend themselves to so much more fun. (You wouldn’t believe how many people commented on how lucky Scotland was to be wearing rainboots! He takes FULL advantage of them.)

We hiked up to the narrows and were lucky enough to see six deer make a river crossing. There were a bunch of people geared up to hike the narrows. I was seriously tempted to do it, since I knew Tom’s parents could have watched the boys. But if just didn’t seem like the right time. We’ll go back in ten years when we can do it with the boys. I can’t imagine a more thrilling trip with teenagers!

This rock was so fun, we both slid down it several times on our bums.

There are more beautiful times to visit Zions, but as Pam said, going this time of year, before the trees have leafed out, allowed us to see more. (I love how Pam finds the positive!)

Running under the waterfall on the Emerald Pools trail.

The sun was so intense, I kept getting white washed pictures. Oh well, I”ll take the sun anyday!

I planned this trip. And and read tons of blogs and trail journals about people’s favorite parts of Zions. As a result I really wanted to experience the slot canyons. Most of them require three to five miles of hiking, which I knew wasn’t feasible with the boys. So I spoke with one ranger about possibilities to see slot canyons without much hiking and she told me about this one. There was no marked trail. I never wouldn’t have thought I could just go wondering off into the park, had two rangers not told me I could. Tom, Scotland and I all climbed under a bridge and down a series of boulders until we dropped down into this. Scotter even got to experience quick sand for the first time! I must add my in-laws were so sweet to make this happen. I felt rather selfish on this trip. I had all these high hopes of what we’d see and do, even though I braced myself for the reality of traveling with kiddos. We’d had a full day and everyone was pretty tired, so I stayed quiet regarding my hope to still try to find a slot canyon, but my father-in-law, remembering my earlier enthusiasm, determined that “We’ve got to get Kjirsti her slot canyon before we go!” We drove across the park, partially so they could experience the Mount Carmel Tunnel- which is SUCH a thrill, and so that I could get the tiniest taste of canyoneering.

Mount Carmel Tunnel

It’s a gorgeous park, with such interesting terrain. I really got the high adventure bug researching this trip. I feel more alive in nature, I feel stronger, more capable. Perhaps it reminds me of hard backpacking trips, carrying WAY more weight than I should have because I was determined to carry more than my petite sister. Or perhaps its that Petersen blood- we love our land. Regardless, those feelings surged as we spent these three days entirely outside and I loved it!

Fall Staycation- September 2014

So I’m WAY behind in my blogging. So in order to get these pictures down for memories sake, here goes. Picture overload. Tom got a week off in September. We considered going somewhere like the Oregon coast, but I was so vacationed out and Tom was thrilled at the idea of just being home so we decided to stay home and staycation it.

On our way to the mountains trying our first Zeke’s Burger. We’ll be back! Yum!

Discovering caves in the root balls of enormous old growth trees

Barclay Lake

“Fishing.” We found some line and a bobber with a hook on the shore, attached it to a stick and he was thrilled! No fish needed.

Our mountain boy.

Lynnwood pool

Taking the Amtrak downtown- this was so fun. The tracks go along the water and it’s very picturesque, if you’re a local and you haven’t done it taking the train from Edmonds to Seattle was a real treat.

Then we stepped out into this gorgeous train station. Who knew this even existed? (Probably everyone else in Seattle.) I love surprises like this. Especially in ones hometown! I felt like we were in Europe!

Another thing we happened upon. A beautiful patio next in honor of the birthplace of UPS.

Red boots.

Amazing lunch at Il Corvo.

Butterfly exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.

Boating on Lake Union- ever trying to be frugal I’m always looking up free things to do in Seattle. In my search I discovered that with a Seattle Public Library card you can get free museum passes to a variety of museums around town. One of the free passes was a free 1 hour boat rental at the Center for Wooden Boats. It was so fun! We rowed around in Lake Union taking in the city from the water, watching the sea planes take off around us, and watching a huge yacht come in. Anders was NOT a fan of his life jacket. He screamed most of the time we were on the boat. You’d never know from the beautiful picture below. Thank you pacifier.

Scotland on the other hand, loved it. About half way through he decided it would be super fun to jump in and spent the rest of the time trying to convince either Tom or I do jump overboard. 

Typical grin

What’s a Staycation without delicious home cooked meals? (Especially when they’re prepared by your husband.)

And of course home renovation. We’ve been wanting to open up our kitchen for a while, and finally decided to go for it. We know full well that it will stay “industrial chic” for a while, but that is A-okay. We LOVE the openness. Yes Tom usually does demo in collard shirts- He’s stylin’ like that. (Ok, no, this is an after work demo session.) The major projects during our Staycation were actually moving the washer and dryer from the kitchen to the storage room, and installing closet organizers in our bedroom. The first project was probably the largest project Tom has ever undertaken. It involved plumbing, HVAC, and electricity, the results are terrific, and a real quality of life improvement. No more baskets of dirty laundry in the kitchen. I was in charge of the closet organizers, and am quite proud to say that I installed them 99% myself. Despite the large amount of home renovation I’ve done, I’ve always been a bit shy with a drill. No longer!

Mom, Dad and Derek enter the picture

So the day after Devin left, my parents came into town, and a few days later Derek followed suit.

We took Grandma and Dantzi to the zoo. It was a overcast day with a light mist from time to time- which meant there were few people at the zoo, but the animals were very active. We saw two young male giraffes doing some sort of bum-whopping ritual. They would walk around in a circle and take turns smacking the other on the bum with their head. I thought that was just a HS football thing. We saw the hippo walking around, which was a first for us. And Dantzi, Mom and Scotland got to watch a fierce encounter between two gorillas and a seeing eye dog. Let’s just say, thank goodness there was glass in between!

It was fun to go with my Mom. I grew up visiting zoos, my Mom loves animals and seeing her pass on that affection to my son was very endearing. She taught me, I realized, how to love a zoo. Unlike some, who just want to see the animal and pass by, my Mom trained us, by example, to wait and watch. We’re slow zoo goers, as a result, but we’ve seen some amazing things!

Making paper out of elephant poo. Yup, you read right. Scotland was definitely hesitant but intrigued enough to take part.

Dantzi- ever wanting to help. I was really impressed by her ability to “Observe, and then serve.” Her skills in that regard are very advanced for her age. 

Meanwhile, back at the home front my Dad labored away on a fort for his grandson. (He skipped the zoo of his own accord.) My Dad’s building skills always impress me. His father was famous for pulling together scrap wood and making beautiful things. My dad has the same sense for using what’s around and making it work.(For example he cut the majority of the 2×4’s with the pathetic saw he is holding before he finally caved and went and bought a circular saw.) He built an awesome fort for Scotland- of which Scotter is very proud. I love that both grandpa’s and aunt, an uncle and his Mom have all worked on his fort. Now we just need Tom to help put on the roof, so he can be in the mix too!

I love when my Dad visits. I see a different side of him when he’s in my home- he’s more chipper, more playful, and more relaxed. I love it, and so do my boys.

We took Dantzi on her first ferry ride (well that she’ll be able to remember.) It was a perfect day, warm with a brilliant blue sky. Seattle, my friends, is divine this time of year.

Three look-alikes, no?

My parents and their baby.

Scotland quickly took to Derek. He LOVED his silly, playful nature. As proven above. Scotland laughed and laughed with him. As I was looking at these pictures I noticed Scotland’s arms around Derek in the picture several above this one. It’s rare for Scotland to be really affectionate like that in pictures. It made me realize two things: one, how much it means to me that my children have a relationship with my siblings, and two, how much Scotland loves silliness and playing. It was a good reminder that I need to lighten up and just be goofy with him more. He craves it.

Anders was equally a fan of Uncle Derek.

Dantzel and Scotland watching the school of fish off the dock.

It was a great weekend, and I felt really lucky to be able to treat my folks and sister to a fun “end of summer” vacation.




Devin and Dantzi’s visit

This has been the most family-filled August I’ve had- since, well, probably moving away for college. Seriously, all but two of my siblings visited our home last month, and the two that didn’t, I saw at my folks. It’s been wonderful! I’ve already catalogued the first three family events: reunion, Karlsven visit, and Grandma and Poppa Foutz, so now we’re on to Devin and Jessica, Dantzel and my folks, and then Derek. (I’ll admit to feeling rather popular! wink. Please tell me it’s not just because I live in a gorgeous place.)

Devin and Jessica got free stand-by tickets and decided to use them to visit Seattle, which was quite an honor. I was determined to treat them to a fun trip,  because they’re newlyweds, and he’s my younger brother, and because I want them to come back again, and again!

I think what sets Seattle apart from many cities is it wealth in three areas: vibrant city life, gorgeous beaches/water ways, and breathtaking mountain escapes. So we planned our three days accordingly. Day 1: City, Day 2: Water, Day 3: Mountains.

Day 1:

Both Dev and Jess were sweet to help take care of the boys while they were there. Only a true man can confidently wear a baby- and I must say Devin was really styling in the Ergo. Though to be fair, Jess was model-worthy as well.

But I digress, besides wanting to see Pikes, Dev and Jess didn’t have much preference regarding what else we saw downtown, so I decided to take them to a few places I’d heard were interesting- Capitol hill, Volunteer Garden (we’d been here). We decided to walk everywhere, which actually turned out to be a wonderful way to see the city.

I enjoyed stopping in several artsy Cap’ hill boutiques. You never know what you’ll find in these sorts of places. This place featured succulents, air plants, botanical prints, clothes and, you got it a grizzly bear. Why not.

This furry guy definitely up-ed the interest level for Scotland, for which I was grateful.

After hearing Jessica is an ice cream lover, we decided to let her try Seattle’s favorite ice cream- Molly Moon’s.

Notice Anders, he conveniently took advantage of their distraction to steel Jessica’s cone.

Scotland was happy to revisit an old haunt. (We visited Molly Moon’s several times together when we lived around the corner from the one in Wallingford. Back then I had pregnancy to excuse the expense on!)

Not sure why books make Scotland feel this way. . .  but. I loved dropping in Elliot Bay Book Co. I always leave book stores like these  committed to reading more.

Dev and I had to poise by this sign, because, well, we’re cheap frugality is our jive.

One of our recent discoveries- the historic water tower at Volunteer Park. The view from on top is stunning!

I really enjoyed walking through the historic Capitol hill neighborhoods. I miss the colonials and tudors that I ran through in Shaker Heights, but the homes in Capitol Hill reminded me of them. I’m grateful there are still people with money willing to keep up these old beauties.

We ended the day watching my younger sister’s first college soccer game. Go Ad!

Day 2:

Ballard Locks

Catching falling acorns.

We stopped by for the food truck experience at El Camion. My cochinita pibil burrito was amazing. (Ooo. I kind of want one right now. And it’s 10PM.)

They spent the afternoon at the beach with the boys while I taught, and then headed out on the town for dinner, just the two of them.

Day 3:

My youngest sister, Dantzel, joined us for day three. It was so fun to have her. She’d never done a tough hike like we did and her repeated statements of awe and wonder made the hike all the more enjoyable. We climbed Mt. Pilchuck. It wasn’t the best day to climb it, but you work with what you have- and I had a strong back that could carry Scotland, so we went for it. (Thanks Devin!)

One of the highlights of the hike was all the huckleberries, or mountain blueberries. They were everywhere- and got tastier and tastier as we gained in elevation. (Or we got hungrier!)

The hike wasn’t as fun for Scotland, since we made him stay in the pack most of the time. So he was thrilled whenever we let him down to pick berries.

The final descent a boulder scramble to the pinnacle of the mountain! (A bit precarious while carrying children, but do-able!)

Despite the cloud cover the view was still breathtaking. (If the clouds weren’t there we could have had a 360 view of the Cascades with Baker, Adams, Rainier, and St. Helens, the Olympics, and the Puget Sound in view. . .Okay I’m still a bit bummed the clouds didn’t clear! I’ll be going back.) That being said, we did get a quick glimpse of Rainier when the clouds parted for a minute.

I’ll be bold enough to say I doubt there have been many 6 month olds in this look out! I must brag about the Ergo, I carried Anders all six miles in the Ergo (except for the last half mile where I carried him in my arms.) and I wasn’t sore or uncomfortable at all. I love this thing!

On top of the world.

This photo of Devin’s gives you a pretty good idea of how steep this final stretch was.

It was a spectacular hike. Looking at these pictures makes me want to hit the mountain again. If only Tom didn’t work so much! Maybe I just need to get a lama that will carry Scotland so I can go more often! He’s a great hiker, but hikes such as these are just not achievable for a three year old. Any suggestions for a great pack for carrying older children. Scotland has pretty much outgrown the one we used.

We spent the final evening together eating cookies, and playing Dominion. It was great fun. Dantzi was a great addition. Her carefree, “Let’s Party!” attitude lightened everyone up and we all had a great time.

I have long wanted to play the fun, entertaining older sister role. I’ve been begging Dantzi and Adalee to come up for a week-long visit alone to Seattle for the past year, so having Dantzi and Devin here was such a treat. I love giving people new experiences, and while I had a hard time reading Devin, Dantzi was thrilled to be having them, which, in turn, made me very happy. She threw her arms out when we reached the top of the mountain, she smiled brightly as she picked huckleberries, and she stood at the helm of the ferry and let the wind blow through her long hair.

(Meanwhile, Tom worked, and worked and worked. Poor man. Thank goodness he loves his job. And thank goodness I love mine!)

This is what a summer looks like- at the Foutzes

I’m far over due to post. And yet I have little desire to write about what we’ve been up to. I fear it would just be a travelogue, which is generally unexciting to those who weren’t riding along. And yet I want to document the wonderful times we’ve had and the memories we’ve made with family. (Mostly because I know that whatever goes on this blog- ends up in our family record book. Oh, if only I was caught up enough that I could just add it there, and not here.) 

Summer at the Foutzes looks something like this:

Family Outings:

A gift card from work resulted in a memorable family outing to La Isla (a delicious Puerto Rican Restaurant in Ballard) – which we took out to enjoy eating at the Ballard Locks followed by Scotland first “bike ride.” (I must say walking hand in hand with my hubs as my baby rode his bike in front of us felt like one of those family landmarks. Like the true indication that we had arrived in the next stage of parenting. Tom and I both beamed and laughed as we watching Scotland determinedly pedaling, his little legs blurring in tiny circles as he inched along on his radio flyer.) In my mind, this couldn’t have been a more perfect outing: delicious ethnic food, rolling down a grassy green hill, watching boats and trains, going for a walk, watching my boys squeal with delight, being with my best friend. mmmmm!

I know, I know, pictures of food. But hey it was my first time eating authentic Puerto Rican food- well besides the food Trevor has made. Just a nod to the terrific culinary diversity Seattle boasts!

At Bakery Nouveau- their Twice Baked Almond Croissants will make you hand over your wallet, again and again!

Last Friday we had a Date night with kids in tow. (I gifted Tom with a monthly pre-planned date for Christmas and this was one of them.) Watching Anders happily gumming a chunk of baguette watching Shakespeare in the beautiful surrounds of Volunteer Park. Tom and I looked at each other- “We’re living the life!”  (We also got a sampling of cheeses from The Calf and the Kid- Euphoria was exquisite!

Anders’ first “bike” ride! Clearly he was jazzed by it.


I like to joke that I’m raising my son to be a day laborer- considering the amount of harvesting we do. On this particular outing we picked 13lbs of blueberries! I love frozen blueberries- they amazing alone, or over granola, or oatmeal, or in smoothies. Yum!

Scotland looking macho in our own urban garden. (I’ve perhaps had my most successful garden this year. The winners: sugar snap peas, shelling peas, romaine lettuce, mixed greens, tomatoes, and green beans.)


I’m really sad that this picture turned out so blurry, but the memory was captured. I attended my 10 year high school reunion last month, and was able to reunite with these two dear friends. It was great to catch up with them and see their beautiful families. I was interested in where different classmates lives had led them. And came away with the impression that one can never know what life has in store. I was reminded of President Hinckley’s quote:

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

With my dear friend, mentor, and young women’s leader, Shani.

As I approached the event I found myself feeling nervous. Why? Upon inspection I realized it was the typical culprit- I worried about what people would think, about me, my life. Facing this reality I realized- I didn’t care. The fact was, by and large, I’m thrilled with how my life has turned out so far. As I knelt in prayer I asked God to help me forget myself and instead spend my energies on those I had come to see. My prayer was answered and instead of my typical “I, me, my” storyline, I found myself immersed in the lives of others. It was a beautiful experience. One I wish, wasn’t so rare. I haven’t been back to my hometown in five years, since my parents moved from my childhood home a few years ago. I was surprised at how comforting and nostalgic it felt to just drive the streets of Moses lake. It truly felt like coming “home.” Memories washed over me with warm emotions and I found myself smiling constantly. Thinking back on the girl I was then, and the woman I am now was eye-opening. I have changed a great deal since high school, in many ways good in some ways bad. But being there, among those memories I felt that girl inside of me- and it was awakening.

On my way to and from Moses Lake we spent a few days in Moxee with my Mom and Dantzel. It was a particularly special visit for me because I got to spend so much time with Dantzi. (She came to Moses Lake with me). Dantzi reminds me of myself 15 years ago- such drive, discipline and idealism. I admire her, and every time I’m around her I feel inspired to do more, be more. Her and Anders have developed a sweet relationship, and seeing the time she takes to love and care for him, means so much to me.

Grandma treated us to a visit to her friends ponies and bunny rabbits.

The bunnies were fast, but Scotland- after watching Dantzel, was determined to catch one. I was impressed by his patience. At first he would crouch down and put his hands on either side of the bunny- too nervous to squeeze it, but he grew more and more daring and finally caught one of his own accord.

Food experiments:

First fried zucchini blossoms- delicately delicious. Novelty keeps life fresh.

Tree Climbing:

Both and Grandma’s house (above) and our own (below)

Eating outdoors:

I love to eat outdoors. It takes a little extra effort, but for me the rewards far outweigh the pains. Especially at dinner, when I’m often a bit on edge, taking it outdoors helps me relax and savor the moment.

Bare legs and arms:

This might sound weird, but I love seeing my boys’ limbs! The chunky thighs, the realization of hair emerging on my toddlers legs!


Hanging out:

Me folding laundry, Anders rolling or crawling around on the floor, and Scotland. . .you name it.

That’s really about it- throw in a lot of house cleaning, a couple days at the beach and zoo, lots of library visits, plenty of reading, a load of discipline, a few walks, a hike or two, church attendance, a good number of picnics, plenty of wrestling, tickling and laughter and you pretty much have our summer.



7th Anniversary: Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier

Tom and I celebrated our seven year anniversary last weekend. It was a totally spontaneous trip. Thursday night we were chatting about what we should do on Tom’s day off on Saturday. As we started looking at our weekends we realized it was our only free weekend before our anniversary. Considering the gorgeous weather predicted, we decided “why not?” We booked a room in a nearby hotel and headed off the next morning. Too add to our luck, Tom’s half day was entirely cancelled Friday so we made it to the park by early afternoon.

The trout pond behind our hotel.


Tom and I hiked Mt. Rainier on our honeymoon, and while I’m determined to hike to base camp on our 10th, we thought it would be fun to take the boys for some more relaxed hiking this year. The weekend was lovely. Scotland was a tremendous hiker (thanks to our bi-monthly hiking group!) and Anders, as always, was perfectly content being snuggled up tight with his mommy all day. Scotland probably hiked two miles on Saturday and Tom carried him in the backpack the rest.

When we hiked the mountain seven year ago it was during the beginning of July. There was a significant difference in the amount of snow, climbing a month earlier. Before we hiked a good two miles before we hit snow, this time we were in snow the minute we left the parking lot. Deep snow! It made it nearly impossible for Scotland to hike- though he tried hard. He enjoyed slipping and falling into the soft snow over and over, at first. Then his hands got cold and he grew frustrated.

We hiked until I started to get nervous about the safety of our two boys- as you can see the trail wound along this rather steep hill, I could just see Scotland jumping off to the side and becoming a snowball as he rolled down the hill. (I later learned six people died on Rainier the weekend we were there. Obviously, they were climbing much higher than we were.) We turned around and decided to spend the rest of the day hiking elsewhere in the park where there wasn’t a snowpack.

I carried Anders the whole day in the Ergo. At one point at the top of a rather steep and difficult stretch of snow-laden trail we passed an Asian couple. The fellow looked at me and with little English simply said, “Respect!” (I’ll admit to feeling pretty proud of myself.)

Being out in nature with my two boys is probably my favorite way to parent. It’s an especially lovely activity with Anders, because I can hold him, while also doing something I love.

 The brown hill in the foreground is the snow scrapped from the parking lot.

One of our favorite memories from our honeymoon was discovering glissading (sliding down steep slopes on your bum.) As we thought, Scotland was equally enamored! One chute was particularly steep. He flew down, his eyes wide and unsure but when he reached the bottom where Tom was he laughed and squealed uncontrollably! Anders wasn’t sure he was a fan, but considering the awkward position he was in on my front, we’ll give him a pass.

Scotland was beyond thrilled to have the weekend with his Dad. They had a blast chasing each other down the trails, chatting endlessly, joking and trying out different walking sticks. (Scotland took to using two walking sticks.)

Scotland mostly wanted to walk, which we encouraged, but we were both happy from time to time when he would agree to get into the backpack so we could pick up the pace a little. I was really proud of his hiking stamina. I think our bi-monthly hiking group has really taught him the joy of hiking. He was a great balance of stopping to admire, and forging ahead on the trail. The entire weekend he had a stick in one hand and a nosegay in the other.

Carter Falls

It was fun to think that seven years and one month earlier we had trekked around this same mountain as newlyweds. I had flashbacks several times and loved remembering  how giddy in love we were. I was touched realizing that, really, not much has changed. I’m still crazy about Tom. We still live a life of joy and adventure. We’ve added two boys to our family, which has increased the laughter and love in our home. As we reflected on our married life, we both agreed that we’re still both really happy about how it’s panned out. We’ve taken things slower than some (we dated for three years, were married for three years before having Scotland, and our boys are three years apart. Isn’t there something about the number 3 and perfection? wink wink. It’s working for us.) That being said, Happy Anniversary, Babe. Here’s for three more. . . and three more. . . and three more. . .

Tom and I on our honeymoon.

Our 7th Anniversary shot. (6th, 5th, 4th2nd, 1st)