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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

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Hiking with baby, Teanaway

Stop talking, start doing

We’ve talked (and talked and talked) about taking the girls camping for a while now. We haven’t been since Nora was 8 months old, and even though that trip was a raging success, the thought of being out there with two little kids was frankly kind of terrifying. But sometimes you have to stop talking and just start doing. Those happy summer memories aren’t going to create themselves, dagnabbit!

Camping June 2017

So off we went to our beloved Teanaway. Yes it was hectic (a couple of times, JK and I just looked at each other and said we don’t have enough haaands), our favorite campsite was taken, Lily hardly slept and I slept even less, and when I leaned against a ponderosa pine while nursing, feeling all majestic and nature goddess-like, I was actually rubbing my hair full of tree sap.

Camping June 2017

Camping June 2017

But! We snagged an almost equally awesome site, we had so. much. fun! and, honestly, I was due for a haircut anyway.

Camping June 2017 Camping June 2017

Camping June 2017

I feel like all our adventures this year can be summed up with these sentences: It was a lot of work. I didn’t sleep. It was so much fun. And last but not least: Let’s do it again.

Camping June 2017

Camping June 2017

Highlights: Teaching Nora the ins and outs of, uhm, backcountry hygiene. This was her favorite part too! // Baking bread-on-a-stick over the campfire. // Getting rain and mist and fog instead of the forecasted sun, and then realizing that it didn’t matter because kids don’t actually mind the rain anyway (or maybe that’s just a Pacific Northwest kid thing?) // Lily sleeping in my arms for the first time in forever. Love love love. // Posing Nora’s preschool mascot, Leggo, for photos of his grand adventure. // Both girls sleeping simultaneously for a little while in the morning so JK and I could drink bad instant coffee and just breathe. // Seeing Nora crawl out of the tent at 9:15 with epic bed hair and a giant grin on her face.

Camping June 2017

Let’s do it again!

Camping June 2017 Camping June 2017

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Layouts, Scrapbooking

Story Camp

I first met Ali Edwards in 2007, in Las Vegas of all places. She was a contributing editor for Creating Keepsakes magazine (and also generally a scrapbook superstar) and I was a huge fan of hers and a finalist in the magazine’s Scrapbooker of the Year contest. (This was the year Liz Kartchner, of Dear Lizzy fame, won!) I don’t remember many details – I committed scrapbook sin and neglected to journal about that whole experience real-time – but I’m 100% certain I spent the whole trip all starstruck and silly, meeting these idols of mine, like HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE.

Memory Trends Conference 2007

Over the next year or so, I was lucky enough to be part of the creative team for the magazine and got to take some in-person classes with Ali when she came up to CKC Seattle to teach. But then hiking started taking over my life, and I was scrapbooking less and less…and then I wasn’t scrapbooking at all. (Luckily I kept up this blog, so my stories had a home during my rogue years.) I went through some short periods of making pages here and there, but for the most part, my photos and supplies remained untouched for a very long time…until 2015, when I was home with a beautiful baby and had time to spare during naps. I decided to look up Ali’s blog for inspiration, and saw that she was hosting something called Week in the Life. It was the perfect way for me to jump back into scrapbooking and document our new as a family of three. I bought the kit, documented my week, put together the album, and was hooked again, cranking out pages left and right. Then I discovered that Ali makes something called Story Kits, too – a monthly subscription where one word is the jumping off point for a whole world of inspiration. In addition to physical products, you get educational content from Ali – a main presentation exploring that month’s word and using it as a prompt for page ideas, plus several layout process videos where she gives you ideas for how to use the products and get those stories down on paper. So I bought a subscription and then I was really hooked.

I was lucky enough to end up on Ali’s Creative Team in 2016 and again in 2017, and one of the perks was an invitation to come to her inaugural Story Camp, a two-day workshop in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. *hallelujah emoji*

Ali Edwards Story Camp Ali Edwards Story Camp

As much as a weekend alone sounds kind of heavenly – I have yet to spend a night away from the kids (except for one night away from Nora in the hospital after I had given birth to Lily, but I’m just going to say that doesn’t count), which is kind of pathetic – I didn’t want to go without Lily and have to deal with pumping all weekend. So we made a family trip out of it. JK and the girls explored the markets and playgrounds of Eugene (Nora recommends the one at Skinner Butte) while I spent the weekend soaking up so much inspiration that reached far beyond the pages of a scrapbook, about storytelling and imperfection and self-worth and perspective. It. Was. So. Good. I love love love Ali’s online workshops, but I had forgotten just how powerful something like this can be in person.

Ali Edwards Story Camp Ali Edwards Story Camp
(The girls stopped by to say hi to the Story Campers and to eat and feed me delicious Yumm Bowls)

Some highlights:

– At one point, Ali described the albums about her son as “a celebration of Simon”. That is such a freeing way to look at it! Instead of feeling like I need to document every single thing that happens in my girls’ lives, I want to celebrate them and capture their personalities. (Now that we have cell phone cameras, we take hundreds of photos of the girls every week and there’s just no way to document everything anyway.)

– There was a lot of discussion about how we tend to think of certain things as too precious to scrapbook. We save stories, photos, and even products (hello BasicGrey patterned paper from 2007), waiting for that elusive perfect time to do it. That time does not exist, so just get it done.

– For some reason, flipping through Ali’s albums in person was really impactful. I loved seeing all those pages of various sizes all together like that, some simple, some all fancy and artsy and creative…just so many stories living happily together, waiting to be looked at and read and cherished.

Ali Edwards Story Camp Ali Edwards Story Camp

– I realize how insane this must sound to non-scrapbookers, so another highlight was obviously getting to spend a weekend in a room full of people who understand why getting to look through ALI EDWARDS’ ALBUMS is a huge deal.

– Saturday night cropping & cocktails!

– Meeting new, like-minded, awesome, interesting, people (other adults! what even is this), including many of my fellow Creative Team members.

Ali Edwards Story Camp

It has changed the way I approach my scrapbooking now. I’m using PAINTS and STAMPS like some sort of adventurous person. I even hand-wrote my journaling on a page the other day. Who even am I?! And I don’t care if that paint is smudged or my handwriting doesn’t look very cute, because when I was flipping through those albums of Ali’s, the little imperfect bits were part of what gave them so much personality.

Most importantly, I’ve stopped overthinking which stories I’m going to tell. It really just boils down to what do I want to remember.

I want to remember the different ways we work together as a family. (Title from Lens Digital Story Stamp, cut out with my Silhouette machine // Stars made with PAINT! and an old silkscreen // Phrase stickers)

Focus on what's important

I want to remember the little moments that make up our big life and the cute things my kids say and do. (Embellishments from the June Digital Kit // Numbers from an old Story Kit)

Summer stories 2016

I want to remember the adventures we go on and the life lessons I learn while we’re out there. Apparently I also really want to play with my circle punches. (Fun Story Kit // Super cute bears from Shimelle)

Stop thinking  Start doing

TL;DR – thank you Ali, for reeling me back into this wonderful world of memory-keeping, and thank you Katie, for organizing this event. It was perfect.

Ali and Katie are hosting another Story Camp in October and the registration opens tomorrow – the last one sold out in…two minutes, I think it was? So if you want a spot, I recommend hitting refresh like whoa on June 27, 2017, at 10am PST.

Ali Edwards Story Camp

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Cabin Trip, North Cascades, Running

Sun Mountain 25K

Uuugh, I have officially reached that place where I am so behind on adventure recaps that it’s getting hard to get back into it. So I’mma just start and see how this goes.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

First up: Sun Mountain!

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Highway 20 opened just in time for us to do the beautiful drive through the North Cascades to get to Winthrop. I had forgotten just how gorgeous it is – we haven’t seen too many big mountains lately, so maybe I just appreciate it more now?

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

We stopped at the Diablo Overlook for a picnic and I was in awe. Nora loved it too, because we told her that Davis Peak was Svinetoppen (Swine Mountain), which the pig in her bedtime stories likes to climb.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

We stayed at the Patterson Lake cabins, part of Sun Mountain Lodge, which was the perfect choice for us with two small kids along for the adventure. The cabins are right on the water and on the Sun Mountain trail system, so you can run in all sorts of directions right from your doorstep.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

So, race day. Unfortunately little Norbert did not get to run her first kids’ 1K due to a…toddler malfunction, but I had all sorts of fun on the 25K. (By “all sorts” I’m obviously including Type 2 Fun.)

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

I ran the first half with two old friends from back in the TNAB days, which was a great motivator to beat the cutoff at the aid station – I was genuinely nervous about that, but we made it with lots of time to spare. I pretty much always run by myself, so it was interesting to note how much farther I could go without stopping when I was trying to keep up with others. It’s the best kind of peer pressure.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

Once I got past the aid station, I kind of fell apart a little bit. The heat really got to me, and my knee, which has been bothering me whenever I’ve run anything longer than 8 miles, was not happy with the steep, downhill mountain bike trail that we were on for what seemed like forever. I don’t really remember much, because my body doesn’t really function well in the heat. A lot of us westsiders were struggling under that unforgiving sun after training in cold drizzle all winter and spring.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

I ended up walking so much of the rest of the course that it was downright embarrassing, especially the last two miles – I could even hear people cheering at the finish line but I just could not get my legs to run. I ended up crossing the finish line at 3:33:10. My only goals for this race were to have fun (Type 2 Fun counts!), to beat the aid station cutoff, and to use it as motivation to get me out on the trails for guilt-free postpartum endorphins and alone time, so that’s a win on all counts.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

(Of course JK decided on a whim to run the Dirty Turtle 25K the following weekend with no training except for two runs on Mount Patterson, and he finished in 2:44:something even with over 5000 feet of elevation gain. Way to make me feel slow, dude! But whatevs, I’m here to live up to my Trail Snail moniker.)

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

After I got my well-deserved high five from race director James Varner, I spotted a super excited Nora running toward me for an even better high five and a big hug. The best! She was all about the post-race pizza party, so we walked (I waddled) over to a shady spot to spread out on a blanket and get our feast on. They even had gluten-free vegan pizza topped with kale and roasted garlic! And there was bluegrass music! And happy people! And little Noras dancing! Total bliss.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

Also how amazing is this finisher’s glass? #hearteyes

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

As the party wound down, we went back to our cabin and took an ice bath in Patterson Lake while Lily napped. Aaaah. So awesome.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

The next day, after a combined effort by my spawn to ensure I got less than one hour of sleep, I somehow felt really, really good. We ended up having a perfect, relaxing vacation day, something we really didn’t think would happen after that night. It’s that Sun Mountain magic!

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

We went for a short but beautiful family hike, swam in the lake again, and then both girls actually napped simultaneously so JK and I could read and relax on the porch. Aah.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017 Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

JK kept gushing about the run he had gone on the night before, so once the girls were in bed (and they actually stayed in bed this time, thank jebus), I headed out for a run of my own.

Patterson Mountain run

Patterson Mountain run

I had hiked up Mount Patterson before, back in 2012 while JK ran the 25K, but it was overcast and hazy and it didn’t make that big of an impression on me. But this! This was amazing.

Patterson Mountain run

Patterson Mountain run

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Golden evening light, fields of balsamroot everywhere, lupine-scented singletrack…it was trail running perfection. I had the mountain to myself (except for an assortment of animal friends), so I took to running the downhills with my arms flailing every which way and yelling wheeeeeee at the top of my lungs. Best run of my life.

Patterson Mountain run

Patterson Mountain run

The next morning we had to leave, but we made sure to squeeze in a visit to the pool up at the main lodge before the long drive home. That view, man.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

So, Sun Mountain. I love you. Let’s make this an annual thing (but hopefully with more sleep next time).

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017