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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, TNAB

The ultimate date night

I have a vague recollection of bragging online about the fact that Lily had started sleeping through the night. As any parent knows, the second one dares utter those words, the shit hits the fan in a major way, and illness or teeth or just general babyness swoops in to mess you up and leave you exhausted and probably take years off your life.

This is all to say that my parents’ visit could not have come at a better time. Raising two very young kids without any family around can be incredibly hard at times, and we really needed some kid-free time to just feel like ourselves again. Our first date night since Lily was born was spent at Cafe Flora, of course, but the next night we went big – we went to TNAB.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

…because there’s nothing quite as relaxing as hiking really fast straight uphill and scrambling up mountains and then turning around and doing the entire thing in reverse in the dark. Yay TNAB!

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Okay, so it might not be relaxing, but it’s definitely refreshing.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

And when it’s been a while since you’ve had a big mountain adventure, a night like this will make you feel incredibly high on life.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

There were delicious huckleberries, a distant marmot sighting, and reunions with old friends.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

And – this part is super-cool – hiking straight uphill just isn’t that big of a deal anymore. Man alive, I wish I had been in this kind of shape back when we used to TNAB regularly.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

I could not wipe the smile off my face.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Rampart Ridge has always been my favorite TNAB destination, and I thank the mountain gods for lining up my parents’ visit to coincide with this very hike.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

(Interestingly, I was less comfortable with scrambling than I used to be. I guess it just comes down to lack of exposure? I mean I’ve always been afraid of heights, but I had tamed it to a certain degree before Nora was born…but I haven’t done anything like this since 2013. I’m out of practice.)

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Wearing my Progress not Perfection tank to celebrate all the strides I’ve made these past couple of years – taking charge of my health, parenting…neither will ever be perfect, but I think I am doing pretty damn good anyway.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Especially if we can continue getting some time off here and there. We’ve been good about getting our separate alone time after Lily was born, but kid-free adventures together like this never happen. Maybe it’s time to look into getting a regular babysitter.

Date night

This is the absolute best kind of date night.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

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Layouts, Scrapbooking

All the albums, all the feels

I’ve never been much of a scrapbooker in the summer months before, but the Story Camp stoke is still high and I am just cranking out pages left and right. I made a bunch for our vacation album (doing a walkthrough of that when it’s done), I’m fleshing out Nora’s baby album (doing a walkthrough of that as well), and I am caught up(!) with Lily’s baby album as far as photos and words are concerned, it just needs some prettification. I also started a big album for our cabin trips.

Because I apparently didn’t think those projects were enough, I attempted yet again to start Project Life…and fizzled out after a couple of weeks. I just don’t think it’s for me. I love the idea of it, but when it comes to sitting down and actually doing it, I’ve realized that I prefer to dive deep into a story on a regular scrapbook page rather than collecting a bunch of microstories. I know I would love to look back on those albums later, but it just felt like a chore, and the last thing I need right now is another chore.

But! On the bright side, Project Life made me start focusing more on everyday photography again, and I’ve enjoyed using some of those photos in my regular album. I think I’ll stick with Week in the Life and Day in the Life to capture the nitty-gritty of our everyday life, but photos like these work perfectly with all the thoughts (and all dem feels) I have these days, about life and motherhood and what it all meeeaans and all that jazz.

I noticed that I had a lot of photos of JK performing various dad duties for the girls, so I put some of them together on this page using the Details Story Kit.

Life's little details

…and this photo is from one of the first times Nora got Lily to start laughing uncontrollably. I’ve been having conflicting, bittersweet feelings about the girls not being babies anymore (well, Lily is only nine months but she’s not a sleepy little chest nap newborn), but moments like these make me excited for what’s to come. That ‘endings are beginnings’ title is from Ali Edwards’ August release and it fit perfectly with my thoughts.

Endings are beginnings

Speaking of bittersweet, I was putting away clothes that are too small for the girls (insert weeping emoji here), and there are some that just have too many good memories attached to them for me to give them away. So I’m keeping them safe in a box, but I also found photos of Nora wearing some of those outfits and put together this layout. (Totally unintentional bonus: the colors of the story cards and embellishments from the Details story kit coordinated with the different outfits!)

Nora style

So, TL;DR: I’m having many thoughts and feels and I am thankful for scrapbooking for helping me work through those thoughts and feels.

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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Top Trips

Marmot Mountain Magic

Summer is coming to an end, I can feel it. As much as I love fall (at least the early fall, before the monsoon begins), I always feel a bit of ennui this time of year. It used to be end of summer hiking burnout, but this year it is the opposite – summer really just flew by and we just didn’t get around to doing a quarter of the things we had planned. Gaah!

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

So now we need to squeeze in all the things, starting with a trip to Paradise. We’ve been planning this all year but it kept getting pushed back due to bad bugs, then a heatwave, then two weeks of wildfire smoke, then sick kids. When we finally made it last week, Mount Rainier decided to hide from us the entire hike, but s’all good – we were there for the marmots anyway.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Nora still talks about our marmot hunt last year so she was super excited for this trip. Luckily there were marmots everywhere, so she wasn’t disappointed. Fat marmots, raggedly ol’ skinny marmots, baby marmots, we got ’em all.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Paradise was beautiful even without a big volcano backdrop, and there was definitely a feeling of fall in the air.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

The trees had that autumnal smell that I can’t really describe, and some huckleberry bushes were starting to turn. There was enough of a chill in the air for Nora to put on her adorable little puffy jacket. I see pumpkin spice in our very near future, friends.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

This was such a good family adventure. At one point, Nora turned to me and said “I LOVE hiking in the mountains”, which of course melted my heart.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

(She also said that she loves wet marmots, which means she’s obviously never smelled a wet marmot.)

Nora's Marmot Quest '17
She was so proud of herself for walking most of the steep hills, but the carrier was good to have when she ran out of steam at the end. At some point she’ll have to graduate to feet-only hikes so Lily can use the big carrier, so I’m thinking next summer will be the season of one-mile trails.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

All those steep hills led Nora to actually doze off in the car for once, so we had two glorious minutes or so of complete silence when the girls’ naps overlapped. Aaahhh.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Over the dinner table that night, she was talking a mile a minute about our trip – finding marmots, eating berries, hiking the stairs, stamping Lily’s National Park Passport, forgetting her water bottle in the visitor center bathroom – JK and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I love seeing her so excited, especially now that I know that she remembers things for a looong time. I’m going to remember this one too, kid.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

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Layouts, Scrapbooking

My indoor hobby

The Pacific Northwest is supposed to have an epic heatwave this week. By “epic” I mean around 100°F. This may not sound like a lot, but it’s the Pacific Northwest and no one has air conditioning and we’re accustomed to cold drizzle, and if on top of all of this you are almost 100% viking (okay, so there’s a fair bit of neanderthal in there according to 23andMe) and enveloped in a generous layer of insulation, 100 degrees pretty much means you’re going to die.

At least our basement is slightly cooler…and it just happens to be where all my scrapbook stuff lives. So this week I will hopefully be crafting up a storm (as long as the baby deems it a worthy endeavor – she is crawling now so she might not be interested in her little play space down there anymore), working to catch up on two albums – my vacation album:

Italy 2015

(Ali Edwards July 2017 Digital Kit)

…and Lily’s baby album:

Lily's baby album

(Ali Edwards Family Digital Stamp Set)

I spent a bunch of time today typing journaling (memories from vacations of yore + Lily’s monthly updates) and gathering photos. So bring it on, heatwave. I have ice cubes and a really fulfilling indoor hobby to sustain me.

Guest Storyteller for Ali Edwards: Lost & Found Story Kit

In other scrapbook news, I am one of the Guest Storytellers for this month’s Story Kit: Lost & Found! It will go live in the classroom tomorrow, August 1.

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Health, Running, Solo

Connecting with my old self

Back in the spring, when I had just been cleared to run again after my prolapse and I was in the middle of my big Sun Mountain training stoke, I was watching Ginger Runner Live and heard Gary Robbins mention his Whistler Alpine Meadows race. Now I should mention that it’s customary to enjoy an adult beverage when one watches Ginger Runner Live, and since I’m a total lightweight these days, let’s just say that this led me to immediately sign up for that race and missing some key details. Like the fact that it has over 5000 feet of gain. Gaah.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

So the next morning, when I realized just what I had done, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem because after Sun Mountain I could spend the whole summer training and I would keep losing weight, too. Wrong. I totally lost my running mojo after that race and I have unfortunately resorted to some of my old potato-chips-as-a-coping-mechanism ways to get me through a pretty bad bout of sleep deprivation, so my weight has been standing still for a month and a half.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

But! Lily is now successfully (at least for now? I’m totally jinxing it by writing these words) night weaned, and I once again have enough brain capacity to understand just how hard this race is going to be. So I’m turning to my blog for accountability – I’m cutting that crap out of my diet again and I am going to run run run. Including hills hills hills.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

I’m trying not to be too frustrated with myself for the loss of conditioning since Sun Mountain. Getting through everyday life is hard enough when you’re not sleeping without adding training on top of that. But yeah, I kind of feel like I’m starting from scratch again.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

JK said I should sign up for another race this summer to get my mojo back, but then we decided that instead of paying to run on Tiger or Cougar (where most of the close races that are short enough for me are in the summer), I should just go out on my own on my favorite loop in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

I used to do the Melakwa-Pratt loop every summer, but this would be my first time after having kids. That actually made me a little nervous beforehand – the stakes are just so much higher now – but once I was out there again, everything felt so right.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

After dropping me off at the Denny Creek trailhead, JK and the girls went off to meet some friends for a hike around Gold Creek Pond and lunch at The Commonwealth before coming back to pick me up at the Granite Mountain trailhead. This gave me a deadline of 4.5 hours, which worked out perfectly – it allowed for a leisurely lunch at upper Melakwa (one of my many Official Happy Places) but also made me push myself a bit and run some sections where I would normally dawdle. Perfect combo of enjoying the wilderness but also getting some good training.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

It was so beautiful out there. Now that we’re no longer out doing stuff like this every weekend, I realize how spoiled I used to be when it came to mountain views.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

I just had so much fun. I felt really good physically, even better mentally, and loved getting to reconnect a bit with my former self – the person I was before nursing and diapers. It’s not that I don’t love my life now (okay, maybe not the diapers so much), but it’s important to feel like I’m 100% my own person again sometimes.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

So yes, big stoking of the running fire going on right here. Hopefully it’ll carry over to runs down here on the Powerline, too. It’s easy to be motivated when you’re up in the mountains surrounded by pikas and tiger lilies and sparkling lakes.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

(What kind of devices are people using for tracking their runs these days? I’d like to start using Strava again for additional accountability, but I would rather not have the tracking on my phone since I am always out there alone and don’t want to waste battery life.)

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017