how it's going with three

Since Zoë was born, the question I've been getting the most is: "So...how's it going with three?"

I know a lot of people with one or two kids...and it seems most are, understandably, curious what it's like when you add a third into the mix.

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I really don't feel qualified to answer that question, yet. I feel like I should defer to my friends with three kids whose youngest is at least a toddler. I know, from experience, that in many ways the baby stage is the easiest. So perhaps this is as good as it'll get? Kidding. I hope.

But nevertheless, we're almost three months in, and a few themes have become clear. Here are a few bullet points of how "it's going:"

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I am more forgetful. It's been a real challenge to keep track of everything we have going on. Or even just remembering to check my Google calendar. (Side note: trying to keep the radio waves away from Zoë's brain. It's hard, in our phone-addicted culture.) For Christmas, Santa brought us a dry erase calendar for the fridge. Here's to keeping the schedule in check in 2018!

It takes forever to get anywhere. I tend to be a punctual person. I err on the side of early to make sure I'm at least on time. With two kids, I think I was usually still on time. But getting all 4 or 5 of us out the door and to a destination has proven difficult. Someone inevitably has a meltdown (often me) or a blowout (not me)...and then somehow minutes have passed and we're late. Willa's school opens at 8, and you're not officially tardy until 8:15. Before the holiday break, we were creeping up on 8:10. Gotta get back to 7:55...

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Nobody gets a break. I remember, when Willa was little, Dan and I would "trade-off" parenting duties, so each of us would regularly get a break. Once Cameron was born, it took a bit longer to get to that point, but we got there. We'd each take the kids at different points so the other could have some down time. So far, with three, no one is getting a break unless you leave the house. It's more of an "all hands on deck" situation. I'm sure, in time, that'll change. But for now, parenting is what we are doing all the time.

We aren't sleeping through the night. Even if Zoë sleeps through the night, Dan and I likely don't. Someone is up for some reason. It's made the whole sleep deprivation stage a bit easier this time around, actually, because even before Z was born, I was used to being up at least once in the middle of the night.

I'm not getting much "done." Our society seems to focus a lot on productivity. It's shown that working towards a goal is a key to happiness. We tend to feel better about ourselves when we are accomplishing something. However, when you have a newborn, it's hard to get much "done" besides caring for said newborn. I have to remind myself that, regularly. If a day goes by and "all" I've done is gotten the kids where they need to be, fed them, kept them warm, and loved them, then I'm pretty much doing what I'm supposed to be doing. That's what needs to "get done" at this point in life.

Someone is pooping. Yep. As far as I can tell, dealing with this is a big part of parenting young children. Good times. 

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I'm not posting our adventures on Instagram. When we're out of the house, I'm too busy keeping my head on a swivel to document our adventures. But at home I like to get up in everyone's face. So lots of 'gramming from chez nous. We do leave the house...sometimes.

There's a lot of laundry. A lot. We use cloth diapers, so adding a baby to the mix creates a good deal more laundry. We're more exhausted at bedtime too, which means less monitoring of what goes in the laundry bin. Willa really needs to learn that wearing a skirt for 20 minutes does not make it dirty...

There is so much to carry. I've never been one to carry an infant car seat. There are a lot of reasons, but mostly it's just too damn heavy. I've also always been someone who aims for minimalism with baby stuff. Yet, still, I have so much to carry! SO MUCH. I got a fantastic new backpack for Christmas, but I'm not sure it's big enough. Something's gotta go...

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I'm learning to cut hair. Between the cost and logistics of getting the kids (not to mention myself) to a hair salon, it's just not happening. I've opted instead to grab a pair of kid scissors (they're sharper than they're supposed to be, I'd say) and take matters into my own hands. I've been trimming my own bangs for awhile now, so I started doing Willa's too. And more recently I tackled Cam's 'do. I didn't do the best job, but it's servicable. I'm sure there will be a day when I'll be spending plenty on hair cuts (Willa totally has that dirty blonde colored hair that will "need" highlights...) so for now I'll keep practicing my skills.

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There's a whole lot of love. Everyone wants a hug. Everyone needs a snuggle. Everyone wants to be carried. Cameron is crushing Zoë with his whole body. Willa is dressing Zoë in all pink. Willa is helping Cameron put on his shoes. Everyone is shouting. Everyone is crying. Everyone is laughing. It's a little bit "nutty" (as my friend and fellow mom-of-three Katie would say) but all in all it's pretty darn wonderful.

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Other baby-related posts:
The First Night Home with a Newborn
Baby Items You (I) Actually Need
Wastefulness in Parenting

moving + change

I've been thinking a lot about moving lately...not shocking since we, well, moved.

Whenever the topic of moving comes up in conversation, most often it is described as "hard." Or, perhaps, "the worst." Not only is the act of moving a logistical and organizational challenge, but uprooting your life and trying to resettle it in a new geographic locale is emotional. 

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Many of our moves, up until now, have been primarily characterized by a feeling of excitement. When we left Connecticut in 2008 to move to Seattle, we were giddy with anticipation of our new life. New apartments in the Emerald City brought cool new coffee shops and closer proximity to friends. Leaving Seattle, however, was very bittersweet. It took me a long time to overcome the emotions I had about that move. Not sure I ever totally will.

This most recent move has been a whole different ballgame. It's the first time moving has really had an impact on our kids. It's a move we chose to make; we didn't have to move. We loved our old house and our old neighborhood. We had a really fantastic life there. Nothing is ever just black or white.

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It's been hard, for sure. Change does not come easy. It's also really challenging to try to settle in to a new area when you barely feel like you can get off the couch. But we feel confident in our decision. Confident this was the right choice for our family.

Little by little we've been settling in to the new house and neighborhood. Last week, Dan made a swing on a tree in our backyard. This weekend, he put up our porch swing. The coffee shop down the street makes really, really good espresso. Our neighbors have been very welcoming. We put a scarecrow and pumpkins out as Halloween decorations. 

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Now we just need to bring the new baby into our new home. That's not going to add to anyone's adjustment woes, I'm sure...

almost there :: 38 weeks

The past month of pregnancy has felt the fastest of all. Most likely because we've been distracted by the craziness of moving. Moving at 35 weeks was definitely not ideal, but at least there were no question marks about how helpful I'd be lifting boxes. Unpacking has been a challenge; I empty one box and then feel completely spent. But we're making progress "nesting" in our new family home. It feels like a wonderful place to welcome home our third child. 

I've been feeling a few twinges of action in my belly, so maybe this baby will arrive before it's due date? Although if I were someone who bets, I wouldn't put money on it! 

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^^36 weeks + a really, really good breakfast burrito from dos santos^^

How far along? 
38 weeks.

How big is the baby?
The size of a leek, apparently. Not that easy to conceptualize. Hopefully it's at least 5 pounds. Maybe 6? 

Total weight gain/loss?
30 something pounds...I'm done paying attention! 

Maternity clothes?
Most of the clothing I have is too tight these days, but I'm making do with a few pairs of maternity pants and sweatpants. Thankfully it's gotten a bit cooler lately so I can enjoy leggings and sweaters instead of all dresses all the time.

Sleep?
It's pretty hard to get comfortable lately, but overall I've been sleeping ok. Of course there are an excessive number of bathroom trips each night. But it's all training for when the baby comes, right?

Best moment this week?
We met with our doula, Liv, today, which was great. This is my first time having a doula...I'm looking forward to having the extra support and attention. My second labor felt so much harder than the first, and so I anticipate this time being even more challenging. With everything we've had going on lately, I haven't been thinking about the upcoming excitement as much as I should, so meeting with Liv was very helpful. 

Symptoms?
Immobile is my primary feeling. It's so hard to get around; to bend over, to stand up, to pick up the kids, to fit through spaces. The nausea is thankfully 99% gone, but it still hits me at bedtime some nights. I've had lots of Braxton Hicks contractions and a few that felt slightly more painful. I have some back pain and a bizarre case of itchy skin on my shoulders. 

Food cravings?
I'm back to cravings sweets, for better or for worse. Real estate in my stomach is limited, so I can't eat too much at a time. 

Food aversions?
Nope. Back to enjoying all foods as usual! 

Gender?
Time will tell!  I didn't anticipate how much people would ask me about this since we decided not to find out the sex. But I get it. It's exciting. The kids are anxious to know too.

Bump?
Obviously. I felt huge at 20 weeks, but things have evened out a bit. I'm plenty big, but feel like I'll probably still get a bit bigger in the next week or so. 

Milestones?
Our new house is slowly but surely getting to a livable state, which is making me feel slightly more optimistic about our ability to handle the baby's impending arrival. The "nursery" is not at all "ready," but our room is only a bit cluttered with boxes/clothes and we know where the Pack 'n Play is.  

Mostly, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself for making it this far, and I plan to just try to embrace the last bit of time remaining. This pregnancy has been anything but easy for me (and all those around me!) but it always feels good to overcome a difficult time. Now it's time to face the challenge and excitement of labor!

 

anniversary in aspen

Last month, Dan and I celebrated our 10 YEAR anniversary in Aspen! 

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We knew we weren't going to make any huge plans for the occasion, given the baby in my belly and all the other things going on in our life this summer and fall...but heading to Aspen just the two of us seemed appropriately celebratory.

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We stayed at The Limelight right downtown, and relaxing there was pretty much all this pregnant gal wanted to do for our stay. It was so comfortable! From the room to the pool to the breakfast. So nice.

We did walk across the park from the hotel to enjoy a delightful (+ fancy!) dinner at Bosq. The crab dish shown above with hearts of palm, avocado, and jalapeño foam was truly remarkable. All the other dishes were very good. And they treated us to butterscotch pudding for dessert; always a plus. 

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It's been a wonderful 10 years of marriage. Many expected things came into our life and several unexpected as well. Here's to many new adventures for Dan and me when our third little one joins our crew. I love keeping up this blog to remember all the the things, big and small, that we're up to. Thanks for reading!

kindergarten

Today was the day. Willa's first day of kindergarten. 

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She went to school full-day last year, too, so I sort of thought this year might not feel so monumental. But it did. There's just something about kindergarten. Being five years old. It's the start of a new chapter and the end of an era. 

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Today felt big for all of us. As Willa cried at the breakfast table in her new classroom, and Cam wailed alongside her, a staff member from the school came up to check in with us. She commented that all the tears showed what a close-knit family we are. I liked that perspective.

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When it was time for us to leave, Willa took a big breath and told me she wanted to go see her teacher again. I walked her over to her new teacher, who then asked Willa if she wanted to be her helper. She took Willa's hand, and Willa looked at me with a look that said she was going to be okay. I was proud of her for suggesting something that would make her feel better.

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Willa's first day hit us all hard. But I know she's strong, brave, and very capable. I can't wait to go pick her up.

Iceland Trip :: Reykjavík

This is my final post about our trip to Iceland (promise!). I have to share some highlights from our final stop on our 10-day trip: Reykjavík.

We decided to end in the capital city since we figured we might have had enough countryside and waterfalls by the last few days. I'm not sure that was the case, but it was still great to check out the city and have some more urban adventures. 

We spent three nights and two days in the city, exploring on foot. We didn't take a stroller on the trip, so we could only cover so much ground, but Willa did a great job walking both days. Two days was plenty to take in the city, but at the same time, Reykjavík had a lovely relaxing atmosphere the we probably could have enjoyed for even longer. Some things we enjoyed most:

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Our Air BnB
We rented a loft quite close to the city center. The owners both work in the arts, and as a result the place had a very unique vibe. The kitchen was great for cooking, and there were plenty of toys for the kids to play with. The one negative was that it had several skylights with no shades, so sleep was a challenge. The kids were up until almost midnight most nights! 

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Bakeries
When researching restaurants in the city, I came across a blog post by David Leibowitz about bakeries in Reykjavík. I'm not sure there are many bloggers I'd trust more about baked goods, so we made plans to hit up several of the places he mentioned. They did not disappoint.

^^Our first stop was Bernhöfstbakarí. According to Leibowitz, this is the oldest bakery in Iceland. We were the only non-locals there for a time, and we (I) kind of froze when it was time to order. Everything looked so good! And everything we ordered was. The breads looked great, but we stuck to the pastries.^^

^^The next morning, we stopped in to Brauð og Co. on our way to the top of the hill to see Hallgrímskirkja church. You could tell just by walking by that this bakery was a place to be. There were both tourists and locals lined up out the door, and the smell was overwhelmingly delightful. Once inside, the combination of people and baking activity made it quite warm...I wished I wasn't wearing my coat. You could see the bakers working all around you, and clearly cinnamon rolls were the product of the moment. Dan ordered one, but I made the "mistake" of getting a pain au chocolat...it was excellent, but didn't rival the cinnamon roll, in my opinion. I was so remorseful that I'd "ordered wrong" that Dan stopped in the next day before our flight home to buy a few cinnamon rolls to go. Unfortunately, they weren't the same! The second day they were made out of a flaky croissant dough instead of the more bread-like dough shown above. Still good, but a reminder that sometimes moments cannot be recreated.^^

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Hljómskálagarður Park by Tjörnin Pond
Fueled by our Brauð go Co. pastries, we walked through a residential area of the city to make our way to a playground by Tjörnin Pond. The pond was beautiful and offered magnificent views of the city, and the playground was great fun for the kids. It was a fantastic place to pass an hour in the sunshine. This playground was like most we saw in Iceland: fenced in. It's nice for both parents and kids to have boundaries, right? 

Long story short: we had a great trip to Iceland. I highly recommend it as a family vacation spot.

Thanks for reading!

iceland trip :: heimaey island

While we were in Southern Iceland, we took a day trip to Heimaey Island, part of the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago (Westman Islands in English). I was so excited about the trip: to take the ferry, to look for puffins, and to just explore the small town on the edge of Heimaey. The island is perhaps most well-known for the lava flow that in 1973 destroyed half the town and closed the harbor. But it's also known for puffins! 

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^^willa and i got pretty seasick on the ferry ride over. but once we arrived, the fresh air and beauty of the harbor made us feel better quickly! willa was most enamored with the puffin statue that welcomed us!^^

^^our first order of business was to try to find puffins, so we set off on a walk to the shore. it was a bit of a hike, and once there it was clear we probably wouldn't see any puffins. but the coastline was absolutely magnificent, so we tried to focus on that positive.^^

^^as we walked back through town to look for lunch, i glanced up and saw the entrance to the local aquarium. i remembered reading that there was a puffin who lived there! we had time to stop in, and meeting toki the puffin was definitely the highlight of the day for the kids! maybe for me too. it was so interesting to see him up close. the colors on his beak were truly remarkable. animals in captivity always make me a touch sad, but he seemed very well-loved and cared for by his "family" at the aquarium.^^

^^next was hot dogs and skyr yogurts before getting the ferry back to the mainland. hot dogs in iceland were indeed delicious. great sauces and onions!^^

^^the ferry ride home was much smoother (and i took more for my motion sickness! i love these natural pills.) so we were able to enjoy the ride and the beautiful sights we spotted along the way. the islands were so impressive from the water. a few smaller islands had just one house built on them with sheep roaming the hills. i have to admit, i kept wondering if any of them ever fall into the water!?^^

Tips for exploring Heimaey:

  • Reserve your ferry ticket in advance, even if you're not taking a car. The day we'd originally planned to go on was sold out, so we had to move our trip to the next day.
  • The town is an easy walk from the ferry, but to see more of the island it'd be helpful to have a car or hire a ride. We saw a good amount by taking a long walk, but there was so much more we could have explored if we'd had a car!
  • Puffins are best seen during the summer months but only during the morning or evening. It's much harder to spot them midday.

 

rounding third...

I'm interrupting the regularly scheduled programming of Iceland pictures (Sorry! You're welcome!) for a quick pregnancy update.

Yesterday morning I received a BabyCenter email: "Welcome to the Third Trimester!" To be honest, despite this being my third pregnancy, I couldn't quite remember when the last trimester technically started. So, thanks, BabyCenter. 

How far along? 
28 weeks and 1 day. 

How big is the baby?
The size of a large eggplant. Wow.

Total weight gain/loss?
About 20 pounds. 

Maternity clothes?
Most of the maternity clothes I bought earlier in pregnancy have gotten too tight...bleh. So I'm wearing lots of maxi dresses and sweatpants. I'm tempted to buy a few new things, but at the same time it seems silly for just 12 more weeks. But tight clothes are the worst. 

Sleep?
I've been sleeping ok...some nights I wake up with back pain, but overall I'm doing okay. When we went camping last weekend I was delighted to have our air mattress. A few years ago I tried to tough it out and sleep on the ground, and that was NOT a good idea.

Best moment this week?
It's not completely related to the baby, but Willa and Cameron have been really sweet to each other the past few days. We just went to pick Willa up from her morning at arts camp, and she kept giving Cam hugs and saying "I love you, Cammer." When the two of them are being sweet siblings it makes me feel like bringing a third one into the mix will actually be doable. I'm sure there will be just as many moments when it feels completely overwhelming, but take what you can get, right?

Symptoms?
People often ask me, "How are you feeling?" and I'm never sure how honest to be when I answer. My immediate reaction to that question is, "big." Close second is, "hot." Overall, I'm feeling good. I'm tired and emotional and sick of not feeling like my non-pregnant self, but I don't have any real physical complaints (knock on wood). I got diagnosed with anemia this week so I started on an iron supplement. I had it when I was pregnant with Willa too. The good news is they suggested I take the iron with grapefruit juice. I love grapefruit juice.

Food cravings?
Nothing too specific. I'm definitely still pretty hungry all the time, and sweets are more appealing than they used to be. But I'm getting to the point where I have to be careful not to eat too much or I'll feel super full. That large eggplant is making my stomach space smaller!

Food aversions?
I'm not as interested in spicy food as normal...

Gender?
Not sure...I think we'll be surprised if it's a girl, but if it's a boy, we'll be like "ok, yep."

Milestones?
Our recent adventures in Iceland and camping were both moments I felt proud of. It felt good to be able to do those things and have fun even while being pregnant. Honestly, they were good distractions. But both trips were pretty tiring, too!

Bump?
Bigger by the day. I'm definitely bigger than I was the last two pregnancies. We'll see where I end up though!

iceland trip :: chasing waterfalls

In the past, when we've taken trips, I've summarized them in just one or two blog posts. That is not going to be possible for Iceland. It is an extremely photogenic place. I literally wanted to take a photo every minute. Amazingly, there were innumerable sights that I did not photograph, but I still came home with over 1,000 pictures.

After our time on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we drove south to Hella, which served as our home base for exploring southern Iceland. Hella is a small town 58 miles east of Reykjavik. We rented an Air BnB and our hosts warmly greeted us soon after we arrived. They had two young children as well (one just a week old!). It was really nice to chat with them. They highly recommended the local swimming pool, so we decided to check it out right away. We were all a bit restless after our day of sitting in the car.

It was in the 50s and rainy, but that didn't seem to stop the locals, so we donned our suits and hit up the heated pools. They had the temperatures listed next to each pool, and even had a hot tub for kids at a lower temperature with floating toys. Our family LOVED the water slides: Willa went down the blue one several times alone (big step for her!) and I enjoyed the exciting speed of the green slide! We went to the pool twice during our three days in Hella, and the days we swam were the nights the kids slept the best. Sleep was no easy feat, considering it never gets dark during the summer months.

In between pool visits and cooking meals at our Air BnB house, we mostly looked at waterfalls. There are TONS of waterfalls in Iceland, and two of the well-known ones were on our drive from Hella to another destination I really wanted to see: the Dyrhólaey peninsula. Thanks to the weather, the waterfalls ended up out shadowing the sights on the peninsula, but we were still able to get a sense of the dramatic coastline of southern Iceland and the black sand beaches of Dyrhólaey and Vík. 

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Seljalandsfoss
We decided to prioritize Seljalandsfoss as our first stop because I'd read that you could walk behind the waterfall. That sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing, right? When we arrived mid-morning, it was pouring rain, but tourists were out in full force. We put on all the rain gear we'd brought on the trip, and headed out ourselves. (It was at this moment I realized I didn't have any rain gear for my camera!) The walk behind the waterfall was relatively easy; no where near as treacherous as I was worried it might be with the slippery rocks etc. The force of the water was astounding. You definitely felt the spray as the water went overhead. Cameron clung to Dan's back in the Ergo, but Willa was so excited to see the waterfall. Remarkably, none of us even minded how wet we got. 

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Dyrhólaey Peninsula + Vík
After we were soaked to the bone by Seljalandsfoss, we piled back into the car and drove south toward Vík. That morning was our rainiest of the whole trip, and when we arrived at the parking area on the peninsula, it was a complete downpour accompanied by thick fog. Instead of unloading everyone and putting all our wet gear back on, we decided to eat our picnic lunch in the car while we took turns exploring. Willa was game to join the adventure, too. I'm sure the area would have been much more impressive in better weather with more visibility, but I was still glad to have had a chance to see the unique geography and rock formations of the area!

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Skógafoss
On our drive back to Hella, the rain cleared a bit, so we decided to quickly drive into the entrance to Skógafoss. Our intention wasn't to get out of the car, but once parked, we took a family vote, and everyone seemed game to check out one more waterfall. At Skógafoss, they've built three hundred and some stairs (321?) that take you to the top of the waterfall. We kept asking Willa if she was sure she wanted to do it, and she insisted she was! We totally lucked out with the weather: the rain finally cleared as we hiked up the steps. I got so hot in all my rain layers! The view from the top was remarkable: very impressive but also a bit unnerving. I couldn't go all the way out on the grated observation deck...it was scary! 

I'm not sure which waterfall I'd recommend if you could only visit one...they were both so impressive and walking behind one and on top of the other were both very memorable experiences. The views of the coast from above Skógafoss were fantastic, and apparently there's a hike you can take from the waterfall even farther up into the hills. 

Most important thing to remember is: take rain gear! Even on a nicer day, the waterfalls will splash you! 

iceland trip :: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

When telling people about our recent trip to Iceland, one of the most common question I've been asked is "why did you choose Iceland?" There are lots of answers: direct flight that wasn't too pricey, no Zika risk, good spot in June. But the main reason, I think, was that we felt like Iceland would be a destination that would offer a sense of adventure and excitement while still feeling relatively low-key and relaxing. It definitely delivered on both these points. We stayed for 9 nights, and spent 3 in 3 different places. We wanted to make sure we got to see a few different parts of the island, but we didn't think we had it in us to drive the entire ring road that circles the island.

Our first stop was the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Don't ask me how to pronounce it. (When we were going though customs on arrival, I turned to Dan and said, "I sure hope they don't ask me where our first destination is!") This peninsula in western Iceland is sometimes called "Little Iceland" because it offers a chance to see almost everything Iceland is known for in just one small area.

We had two full days there, and explored pretty much the whole peninsula. Our home base was the ^^Traðir Guesthouse^^, which I recommend highly for location and breakfast, but probably not for the value. (But then again there's such limited accommodations in Iceland, especially in the more remote areas, that everything is a bit expensive.) There is always more to see, of course, but I was really happy with how much we were able to take in during our two days on Snæfellsnes.

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Ytri Tunga Beach ("Seal Beach")
This was quite close to our guesthouse so we got there early in the morning and beat the tour buses. After being aggressively warned by an Arctic Tern that her eggs were nearby, we were able to walk out on the rocks and watch some seals laze and swim. If we'd had time, it would have been interesting to come back at low tide to see the difference in the shore.

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Búðir Black Church
I must admit I didn't fully internalize the historical significance of this church, but it was quite beautiful. Also, the settlement of Búðir was one of the first on the peninsula. 

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Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge
One of the blogs I read commented that this was a "hidden" or "secret" spot to visit. Not so much. There were several other people there when we arrived, but it's wasn't surprising that the word was out about it. It was spectacular! From the parking lot, you hike up a short hill into the center of the gorge. There is water falling from the rocks higher up, so to climb into the gorge, you have to navigate a small stream. Willa had been snoozing in the car when we arrived, and was initially grumpy at the prospect of climbing up the "huge mountain" in front of her. But as soon as she got going, she was taken in by the natural beauty. It was so wonderful to watch her challenge herself. Successfully climbing into the center of the gorge ended up being one of her highlights of the whole trip! 

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Arnarstapi
One place I was most excited to visit was this small fishing village. The coastline there is absolutely breathtaking; jagged rock cliffs with beautiful teal blue waves crashing in. The kids unfortunately hit a bit of a low point when we got to the town. They were sick of putting all their layers on and they were just ready for lunch. The walk along the cliffs scared Willa. We were always a safe distance from the shore and cliffs (except when I ventured alone out onto the land bridge!), but the view was pretty intense. As for Cam, he fell asleep. We cut the walk a little shorter than I would have liked to have fish and chips for lunch. Despite the $20+ price tag for one order, they hit the spot on a chilly day.

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Lóndrangar Basalt Cliffs
There were so many opportunities to get in and out of the car to see sights, and a couple of times Dan and I opted to take turns instead of unloading the whole team. Dan ran from the parking lot to the lookout point to admire these cliffs. I got a few glimpses while we were driving; they seemed mighty impressive. 

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Ölkelda natural soda water
When I read you could get natural soda water right from the ground, I immediately added it to our itinerary. We filled up our bottles for a small donation to the farm housing the springs, and did our best to drink it. It was incredibly mineral-y! But really fun to try.

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Mt. Kirkjufell + Waterfall
Apparently this is the most photographed spot in Iceland, and understandably so. It was gorgeous. We had trouble finding an open spot in the parking lot, and got a friendly (?) reminder by a policeman patrolling the area NOT to park on the side of the road. They take that rule very seriously in Iceland, which I appreciate. However, it seems with the ever-increasing popularity of tourism on the island, they may need to find new ways to accommodate all the cars, buses, and RVs. 

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Stykkishólmur
I'd read that this small town of just about 1,000 people was an idyllic spot with colorful houses and a bustling harbor. It was, indeed, all that. However, it was also where we were when we found out our dog Bryna had gastric dilatation and volvulus (bloat) and needed emergency surgery. We had lunch at a quaint restaurant by the port while we awaited what was ultimately bad news. Needless to say, it was a very sad day. But the town was quite picturesque...

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Lýsuhólslaug Geothermal Pool
This was our last stop on the peninsula and our first hot springs experience in Iceland. It is definitely worth a visit. We almost didn't go, given what happened with Bryna, but we decided it would be better than sitting around our guesthouse with two rambunctious kids. Given all the emotions, we were a bit disorganized: I managed to forget Willa's bathing suit. But she, thankfully, made no fuss about just wearing Cam's swim diaper. Ha! The locals might have thought we had a bit odd in swimming attire choices, but oh well!

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If you only have time to go to once place in Iceland, I would definitely recommend Snæfellsnes. I was so impressed with all the things were were able to see in such a small area. There was much more to explore too, including volcanos, lava fields, glaciers and caves!

willa's FIFTH birthday

Earlier this month, Willa turned five. FIVE! Somehow that milestone felt more significant than previous birthdays. Maybe it's because it's half of a decade? Or because it's kindergarten age? Or because she was really, REALLY excited about her birthday in a way she hasn't been in years past? Whatever the reason, it was fun-filled and exciting and we loved having a chance to celebrate her.

We kicked-off the birthday festivities with a family BBQ at my sister's house. Willa had been asking for a "pink mermaid cake" (as well as "Elsa cupcakes") and I'd been close to dropping the ball, but WalMart amazingly came through with both the perfect-sized pink cake as well as a cute Little Mermaid toy that worked well as a cake topper. SCORE. She couldn't have been happier. Look at her eyes!

She was a lucky girl and received generous and thoughtful gifts from her family. We are so appreciative of the love and support we constantly feel from our family. HUGE thanks, everyone!

For MONTHS Willa has been saying she wanted to go to a specific swimming pool for her birthday: The Bay Aquatic Center in Broomfield. It is a fantastic place, for sure. (AND it checked off an item on "summer goals" list!) We invited a few of her friends to come along, and the three girls had a great time splashing around the pool and sharing snacks. We gave her friend Mae a ride to and from the pool, and the two of them sat in the back of the minivan singing "Let it Go" and "Can't Stop the Feeling!" It made me smile and also caused that intense feeling of "she's growing up too fast!"

Once she recovered from the pool with a quick nap (and I recovered from a bad fall that scraped my leg and hands and cut my big toe open), she got dressed up in a new dress and shoes from her Auntie Al, and we headed out just the three of us to celebrate at Denver Central Market.

The night was filled with special treats. One should be spoiled on their birthday, right?

Willa got a lemonade to drink alongside our pizza from Vero. For dessert she first selected a cupcake with pink frosting from Izzio Bakery (best cupcakes in Denver, in my opinion!) but when that didn't hit the spot, she asked for ice cream from High Point Creamery. Normally, I would have been all, "are you crazy!?" but it was her birthday! So we took the cupcake home and she got "Rose Gold" ice cream which she has not stopped talking about since. It was strawberry ice cream with white chocolate. Delicious and fancy. 

We ended the evening by walking around RiNo and admiring the street art. So many cool pieces to see! It was so wonderful to spend the night focusing on Willa. I think she felt really special, too. Our little girl. Getting older all the time...

Happy Birthday, Willa! 

summer goals

Our summer started off with a bang.

Right after Willa finished up school, we celebrated her fifth birthday. Then we geared up for our big trip to Iceland. We just got back on Monday. While we were gone, our dog Bryna died. Cam decided up north that he was ready to potty train, so we have that going on, too. (Lots of posts on those life moments coming up in the future. Minus the potty training. Maybe.)

I am overwhelmed with emotions. I'm sad. I'm tired. I'm excited it's summer so I can spend more time with Willa, but spending time with both kids is exhausting. It's really fun, too. And sometimes it's not fun, if I'm being honest. I want to do all the fun summer activities, but did I mention I'm tired? Just cleaning up from lunch has me beat. 

But, clearly, I need to rally a bit. I'm not planning for this summer to be some kind of show stopper where we do every activity on every "bucket list" one can find on the internet. But I'd like to keep busy-ish and have fun. With that in mind, here's my list of "summer goals." I'm not going to get them all accomplished, I know that already. But maybe we'll do most of them. At least some. Trying to be motivated. And trying to be realistic.

Summer 2017 Goals:

  • Go to City Park Jazz at least once.
  • Finally go to Lakeside Amusement park
  • Make a cherry pie
  • Go berry picking (see calendar here)
  • Belleview Park to ride the train, see animals, and play in the stream
  • Go to a splash pad
  • Hit up the fountains at Union Station
  • Go to The Bay Aquatic Center
  • Go camping
  • Check out the Museum of Outdoor Arts in Greenwood Village
  • Trip to the dentist for both kids
  • Dye hair with something very washable
  • Make a lot of mango lassis
  • Go on an overnight mountain adventure & stay in a motel 
  • Visit the sand dunes
  • Make homemade lemonade
  • Play with shaving cream (only once! Too much waste/chemicals.)
  • Make homemade pasta
  • Meet Dan somewhere new for lunch
  • Make baking soda volcanos 
  • Finish Cameron's baby book
  • Create 2016 "family yearbook"
  • Update Willa's school book with preschool stuff
  • Make homemade donuts
  • Go swimming at Big Soda Lake (Bear Creek Reservoir) 

What about you? What are your summer goals? Here's to doing things!

preschool graduate

It's officially summer break up in here; Willa had a half day today to finish out her school year.

Naptime is currently going terribly; Cameron is so excited to have his sister home that he's not sleeping and the clock is quickly ticking down on what's left of Willa's hour of quiet time. But I best just embrace the moment because I'm sure it's going to be just like this for the next 2.5 months! I am genuinely excited for summer adventures, but naptime is so precious...hard to part with! 

Anyway! Here are a few pictures from the last week or so of school. And a video at the end if you're so inclined!

^^willa's last unit of school was about exercise. at the end of the year "celebration of learning" we got to see a lot of the class's work. i particularly liked the picture she drew above. good reminder for all of us!^^

^^they had a little graduation ceremony yesterday during which we watched them receive their diplomas, listened to them sing a goodbye song, and watched a slideshow of pictures from the year. i'm blaming pregnancy for tearing up during the pictures. after the ceremony we had cake on the lawn and most of the kids practiced their tree-climbing skills.^^ 

It's so typical of me to say, but I honestly can't believe she's done with preschool and will start kindergarten in the fall! She grew up so much this year. Learned to write much more than just her name, and is starting to ponder reading. More important than all that, she made and nurtured friendships with each and every one of her classmates. It's so fun to watch her grow up. 

a morning at echo lake

As I've mentioned before, going "out to the mountains" is a very Coloradan thing to do. Indeed, a huge advantage of living here is all the fantastically beautiful destinations that are just a short drive away. However, we sometimes struggle with just doing it. It always feels like a lot of work to pick a place to go and to pack lunches and to find all the water bottles and to put on sunscreen and to load up the car and to battle the traffic and to convince our kids to put one foot in front of the other...You know. (Or you don't know, and I'm jealous that you feel that way!)

Those are my excuses. You never (or, very rarely) regret just getting in the car and going. Even if you end up at a different hike than you'd intended, it's still going to be enjoyable and memorable. 

Before saying anymore, I must give a shout out to my dear husband Dan. He's wayyyyy better than I am about encouraging us to be outdoorsy (which is a bit ironic, since I'm the one who grew up as more of a "camper"). 

And, so, last Sunday, we loaded up the car and hit the road before 9am for Echo Lake. It wasn't exactly a hike, per se, but instead a nice path around a the lake that gave us a chance to stretch our legs, breathe the fresh air, give Bryna a swim, enjoy a picnic, and listen to few drones being flown overhead (grrr). 

And of course, afterwards, ice cream needed to be had. We headed into Idaho Springs and hit up the Georgetown Valley Candy Company. Their mint chocolate chip was divine. Spearmint, apparently.