Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Heading to the Hills

We've been heading to the mountains the past week. Last Thursday we went to Big Four Ice Caves. This is a popular trail on the Mountain Loop Highway. It is one of my happy spots; I used to go there once or twice a year for some down time. You get to experience several different habitats within a short distance; wetlands, forest, river, and mid-alpine. The trail ends at the base of a spectacular cliff, with waterfalls plunging down into snow piles left over from the winter's avalanches. The rushing waters melt caves underneath the ice. The snow creates a cool microclimate in the basin. It is gorgeous. It's a one mile hike on a gentle trail to the caves. My kids did a great job, and I let them play for quite awhile in the basin before heading back to the car.

On Saturday I took some women hiking for the Edmonds Parks Department. It was part of the Women in the Woods hiking series I created. We went to Federation Forest State Park near Enumclaw. It is an Old Growth preserve along the White River. It is shady, cool, and peaceful. We saw only one other person on the trail on this sunny Saturday. It was so refreshing to be out in the forest, with calm women and time to let my thoughts settle.

The kids stayed with my parents for the weekend, so I went down on Monday to get them. I spent the night there, and on Tuesday we went to Mount Rainier National Park. We drove up to Paradise, and yes, it was like Paradise.

The flowers were in full bloom, the sun was warm and bright, the Mountain was showing herself. We visited the new Interpretive Center and the gift shop, and then headed out for a short hike to a waterfall.

There were so many people there, but we still enjoyed the atmosphere of the Mountain. Annika expressed an interest in climbing to the top; I told her she needs to grow just a bit more and get stronger. She replied that she is a strong hiker and a big girl.

I really couldn't argue with that. Gabriel is starting to know most of the flowers, and both the kids got several compliments on how cool they looked decked out in their backpacks and hats. I let them use the trekking poles even though the trail was paved.

After the hike we drove down to Reflection Lake for a bit of play. The bugs were bad there, and Gabriel fell into the lake, so we cut that visit short. But it was gorgeous there, too. We made a few other stops during our day in the park, and took tons of photos. I felt so alive, almost giddy. I wish Rainier was a bit closer so we could go there more often. I would like to do a bunch more hiking there in the future.

We have another hike planned for Friday. I am in the mode of trying to make the most of summer and enjoying these sunny days. Last summer just felt too short, and I am trying to fill up my spirit with light and joy. Being in the woods makes a huge difference in my mood, and I am so happy my kids enjoy being out, too.

Monday, July 13, 2009


We went to the library for storytime today. We have a really great leader here, who uses music, movement, and rhymes as well as stories to teach and engage young children. Afterwards, he brings out a few toys for the kids to play with. Usually I am bored stiff during play time, but today was really fun. Some time in the last school year, Gabriel has learned how to catch a ball. Hmm, maybe PE at school actually helped him... We had so much fun playing catch. Annika reconnected with a little girl she has played with before, and they took turns going down the soft slide. They got pretty creative with their sliding.

After we checked out a large bag full of books, we walked home through the forest. It was misty and cool, dark under the trees. I could feel myself relax, breathing the fresh air and feeling the space around me. Maybe part of the yearning I woke up with this morning was from a disconnection from nature?

The kids enjoyed some red huckleberries, and I let them get down into the little stream that runs through the green belt. Of course, Annika couldn't resist the ooey, gooey mud. How lucky we are to have this little bit of nature right behind our home!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Favorite Things

When we sit down to dinner, one of our traditions is to ask each other what our favorite thing was that day. Sometimes we also talk about what our least favorite thing was. Sometimes my kids surprise me and say something I didn't expect. I am trying to engender thankfulness and positive outlook, as well as teach the kids how to have polite dinner conversation and learn about each other.

Today my favorite thing was when I worked for a bit on finishing two little birds I have been making to send to two inspiring women. (I got the pattern free from Spool Sewing.) I have really been feeling the need lately to be connected to other women, to share our stories, to hear and be heard. Working on the birds helped me feel like I was moving forward on this important facet of my life. In short, it made me happy.

What was your favorite thing today?

Friday, July 10, 2009


It was a beautiful day here. I've been under the weather, but the kids needed to get out of the house, so we went to the park up the street. They recently remodeled the water feature there, creating a new dragon themed spray and water play area. A few friends joined us there for 3 hours of fun and play. Then home for naps, and we decided to have a simple picnic dinner and movie night. Toasted cheese cut in triangle shapes (sailboats, Annika calls them).

Fresh organic cherries from our CSA produce box.

Dinner in the back yard. Then in to clean up the dishes and the front room, and we popped in a movie for the evening.

A good day, I'd say.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Home Again

No pics tonight, just a quick note. We're home again after 6 days at my parents'. I had a bunch of unpacking and dinner to prepare, but I went out and checked on the raspberries. Oh, what heaven! I picked a big bowl full of juicy berries, and there are bunches more just about ripe on the bushes. I'd like to make some jam, but I need to learn how to can first.

One of the kids' moths hatched from its cocoon while we were gone. We saw another one outside, too. The kids were thrilled. I'll try to get some photos tomorrow. Now, it's to bed for me.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Women in the Woods

On Saturday, July 18, 2009, I am leading my final Women in the Woods hike for the year. We meet at 8am at the Francis Anderson Center in Edmonds. We'll be back in town by 5pm. For this hike we'll be going to Federation Forest State Park, an old growth reserve along the White River. The trails are flat and easy, the park is peaceful and shady. Following is a description of what a hike is like for me. I hope that those of you in the Seattle area can join me! To register, follow this link and search for Women in the Woods (under Outdoor Recreation.)


We meet in front of the Community Center, strangers on the sidewalk. We are all slightly uncomfortable as we introduce ourselves, but we pile in the van and head out. The women chat, get to know each other, ask about me and my family. They talk of work, husbands, children and grandchildren. Everyone starts to relax as we drive out of the city. There begins to be less talk and more reflection as they spend more time gazing out the windows.

We arrive at the trailhead and climb out of the van, stretching. I mentally rehearse my plans, making sure I haven't forgotten anything. As we begin our hike, I test the waters, see how fast we should walk. I feel my senses coming alive as I focus more on my surroundings and less on myself. I wonder how much of what I see I should point out to them. I hope that as we do the first activity the women will enjoy it and reap the benefits of calming their minds, expanding their eyes and ears.

The exertion of hiking and the time away in the woods seems to clear our brains. My troubles seem farther away, less problematic, less overwhelming. By lunch the women are in a different place. They still talk about family and work, but there is space in their sentences. They reflect on what they have seen so far, and ask me questions about gear and other hikes. They are thinking ahead, wondering if they will hike again, visioning themselves on another path.

When the afternoon moves along, we stop for an hour of quiet time. How often do we, as women, stop what we are doing for an hour and just BE? Each time I relearn how to do nothing, and find that the time passes too quickly. I feel energized and relaxed. Too soon it is time to walk back to the van, to drive our way back into our lives. But each woman has changed a little bit. Everyone feels more relaxed, reflective, renewed. We are ready to embrace our lives again, until the next time.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than by visiting family and eating good food! We had a quiet day at Grandma and Papa's today. Papa grilled steak and corn on the cob and veggies. Later we watched the neighborhood fireworks from the porch. The moon was dusky through the clouds. Annika didn't like the loud noises, but Gabriel was so excited. I'm glad the kids are still at the stage where they are pretty easy to please.

Yesterday we braved the heat and the crowds and went to Portland for the Blues Festival.

My folks are big fans of Reggie Houston, and he was playing two sets with different bands. It was fun to get out and do something cultural. We ended our outing by letting the kids play in a big fountain down on the waterfront before boarding the Max train and coming back home.

I hope all of you, dear family and friends, are enjoying your weekend and having a blast.