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My First Blog Post – Snow Days!

2021

Snow Days!

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking-Glass

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more! Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Every year I wish for snow. Just one snow day to say we had one, a day to get out and have fun with the kids, to make snow angels, pull each other in the sled and to feel like the snow gear we bought this year was worth it! Some years we get a snow day and some years we don’t. I’m happy to report that 2021 has just given us our first snow day – several days in fact! Perfect timing too, as it came right as a holiday weekend was approaching.

Credit Photo Filled Adventures

There is something magical about the snow beginning to fall. It leaves us watching in wonder “Will it stick? Is it just going to melt? How deep is it going to get?”. The joy and wonder of the world becoming white, something that happens so infrequently where we live, makes the child inside us reemerge for a few days. Thoughts of snowball fights and building snowmen, then coming inside to enjoy some hot cocoa and thawing out by the fireplace.

There is also such beauty in the once green trees, gently covered in white. White accents all along the trees, outlining each branch as if it was painted on.

Credit Photo Filled Adventures

The hush that comes over the neighborhood is so peaceful. Fewer cars are driving past, the birds are tucked away in their nests keeping warm, the hum of the nearby freeway suddenly quiet…the only sound left is the snow gently falling, getting deeper and deeper. So quiet in fact, that even the young ones take notice!

Credit Photo Filled Adventures

And of course the kids just love the snow! They love nothing more than to run through the deep snow, to have an adventure they can only have during winter. Appreciative that they finally have the snow gear which allows them to stay out longer without becoming wet and cold, and new sleds to pull each other around in! Even our dog who normally doesn’t like wearing a jacket, seemed extra appreciative of the additional warmth it added.

Credit Photo Filled Adventures

Snow also gives us an excuse to get outside during Winter – to romp and play without getting soaked! It can be tough to get fresh air and exercise most days during winter, with the amount of rain that comes down in Western Washington. My favorite form of exercise comes in the form of play and yes, the snow delivered! When the snow gets deep, it takes much more effort to walk through, not to mention run through. Those little darlings are just so sweet when they ask you to pull them in the sled, but when they ask for you to go faster? Of course you just go! You get that heart pumping and thigh burn in, why? Because it’s fun! There is no better reason to be sore the next day, than to say it was because of the fun you had!

Now if I’m being completely honest here, I am also glad when the snow days are over. I wonder if some of some of the magic is lost when all of the adult responsibility comes into play? Wondering if you’ll be able to make it to work the next day, concerned about icy roads because you have to drive, making sure your kids aren’t too cold and their clothes are dry. Another thing I watch and monitor are the roads. Just how thick and slippery are the roads? Should we drive or should we stay home?

Credit Photo Filled Adventures

We are completely excited for the snow when it comes, and I feel just as excited when it starts to melt and the world begins to reemerge again. And despite it all, I keep secretly hoping for another snow day next year!

Drawn to Patterns

Taking photos is a huge part of my life! I don’t consider myself a professional by any means (I’ll leave that up to my husband!), but I can’t really go anywhere without finding something to take pictures of! In fact, I often take too many, which my husband can attest to. He regularly hears the cries of “Help! My phone is out of storage space!”

Though I know a DSLR camera and have taken many photos with one, the convenience of a phone camera has definitely changed things for me and likely many people. If they only made a DSLR camera that fit in your pocket! I now have an iPhone, not even the most recent one, but one that has a really nice camera. iPhone 11 Pro Max. I’m just scratching the surface on what it can do, and have been most impressed by its image stabilization on a video!

Many photos are taken for memories, like a picture of my kids playing or even posing in front of scenery that is new to us. However, when we are exploring a new park or trail, its usually nature that I am admiring.

Ferns, Merwin Park, Ariel, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures

Over the last few years what has captured my attention are patterns. Patterns I see in nature, or even those created by animals, architects or contractors. There is something about the repeating patterns that fascinate means often leaves me wondering how its happening, or how they thought to make it that way.

Below are some of those patterns from our adventures throughout Washington and Oregon!

Corner Fence, Cedar Creek Covered Bridge, Woodland, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures
Stairs, Japanese Gardens, Portland, Oregon
Photo Filled Adventures
Hanging Moss, Whipple Creek Regional Park, Ridgefield, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures
Wreck of the Peter Iredale, Fort Stevens State Park, Hammond, Oregon Photo Filled Adventures
Pergola, Japanese Gardens, Portland, Oregon
Photo Filled Adventures
Water Ripples, Wapato Park, Tacoma, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures
Brick Wall, Lower Columbia College, Longview, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures
Wooden Wall, Japanese Gardens, Portland, Oregon
Photo Filled Adventures
Clouds, Mount St. Helens, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures
Marina Dock, San Juan Island, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures
Light Fixture, St. John’s Hospital, Longview, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures
Roller Skating Rink, Lower Columbia College, Longview, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures
Long Beach Boardwalk, Long Beach, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures
Stain Glass Window, St. John’s Hospital, Longview, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures
Redwood Tree, Everett, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures
Sidewalk, Lower Columbia College, Longview, Washington
Photo Filled Adventures

I would love to know – what has been catching your eye lately?

Delicious Keto, Husband Approved Donuts!

We were craving donuts today, but are trying to avoid wheat products and follow the Keto lifestyle (as best we can, trying to ignore temptations!). For me, it is more about gut health and avoiding food allergies than weight loss, though it has also helped in that area!

I found this recipe for Almond Joy Donuts by Maria Emmerich, and we all loved it! I have tried many recipes that involve almond flour and others that are keto friendly, but there are times when my husband and kids just don’t like the texture or flavor. I call this recipe husband approved, because not only did he like them, he ate some later in the day as a snack and told me how dangerous they were. For him what dangerous means, is not being able to control himself and possibly eat too many! This is probably the first recipe that involves almond flour, that he has said that about.

Photo credit: Joshua Gutierrez (my uber-talented husband!)

I baked these in our donut pans, but filled the trays a little too full which is why they also have batter in the middle. But guess what? They still turned out delicious! Next time we’ll actually fill them full on purpose so we can use the centerpiece for fillings like jelly, chocolate sauce or other types of cream. That way they can be tailored to each person’s favorite flavor!

Wilton Donut or Bagel Baking Pan
Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures

The recipe called for dipping them in melted sugar-free chocolate before dipping in unsweetened coconut flakes, however I had run out of chocolate. Instead, I used an idea from Maria’s Coconut Flour Cake Donut recipe to dip them in sugar-free syrup first. It worked like a charm, added just enough sweetness and balanced out the coconut!

In my own photo below, I captured what the texture looked like after biting into it. They were moist, and a very different texture than regular donuts but really hit the spot!

Photo credit: Photo Filled Adventures

These came out of the oven very even and consistently baked, so I put my husband to work in his studio taking photos of them! Didn’t they turn out amazing?! I might just have to bake more often so he can be my food photographer!

Photo credit: Joshua Gutierrez

All in all, these were very easy to make and was a hit in our household! It’s definitely worth a try if you are craving donuts but don’t want to deal with (or just can’t eat) wheat or yeast.

Photo credit: Joshua Gutierrez

A night with Kane Brown

We had our first date night of 2022! We went to a Kane Brown concert! It has been months since our last date night. Having kids can be hard on alone time for mom and dad, but we are making an effort this year!

The night started off with a new band named Restless Road, who I hadn’t heard of before. We were impressed! Their voices and harmonies were spot on and they played beautiful music! When we got home, I immediately found them on Spotify and saved several of their songs.

Restless Road, Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
Photo Filled Adventures

Next up was Chase Rice, who has a few really big hits!

Chase Rice, Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
Photo Filled Adventures

Unfortunately we didn’t enjoy his set as much as the others, until the end of his set, probably because we enjoy a little more country sound than the rap/pop country. The hits he played were great though, especially this one Eyes On You:

Clip of Eyes on You, Chase Rice

We look forward to hearing the songs he comes out with next, as it sounds like some great music is on the way!

Kane Brown, Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
Photo Filled Adventures

Finally, Kane Brown came out and was absolutely amazing! The energy was infectious across the stadium. If you like his music, see him live! He is upbeat, fun, always on pitch and is a really down-to-earth kind of man just thankful for where he is in life.

He brought his own story and life into his concert, which helped us understand some of his songs and his journey to where he is now. These stories helped him transition to some of his slower songs (many of which are favorites of ours).

Clip of Learning, Kane Brown

Shortly after this one, he played our hands-down favorite song of his (that we often have on repeat), Homesick:

Clip of Homesick, Kane Brown

Another favorite song of his that I got a clip of, Heaven:

Clip of Heaven, Kane Brown

The lighting they used was unique and very fun! We were impressed by how much effort went into the lighting alone! Colored lasers, background lights, and fire across parts of the stage. Kudos to the stage crew at the Moda Center!

Kane Brown, Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
Photo Filled Adventures
Kane Brown, Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
Photo Filled Adventures

Overall it was an awesome concert! It’s very revealing when you see a musician live, just how good of a musician they are. Kane Brown is definitely on the top of the list of talented singers and song writers. Check him out if you haven’t already!

Going to this concert also introduced us to Restless Road, who is now my favorite new band! Watch for my next post all about them!

A Mossy Adventure

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.

–Alice Walker
Moss spiraling
Photo Filled Adventures

Before Covid became a big topic in our lives, our family used to go everywhere, almost every weekend. We would take adventures to the beach, to the mountains, across the state and explore really anywhere in our local area we could find. It was a rare weekend that we stayed home. When the shut down happened and we were told to stay home, we actually had a lot of fun getting to know each other again as a family, and even as a husband and wife. But I almost felt like we started becoming homebodies. We were taking less adventures and exploring fewer places.

Here we are in 2022, and we have decided that we are going to have a year of date nights, trips, and adventures as a family. We are very excited to see with this year will bring!

Gorgeous trees covered in moss
Photo Filled Adventures

One of the first parks we visited this year, was Whipple Creek Regional Park in Ridgefield Washington. We were invited by a friend and her family, so we joined them for a hike! They had walked it many times, which was nice for us never having been there before.

Our fun group of kiddos on the bridge across the creek
Photo Filled Adventures

The trails have bridges across the creek, hills that can be pretty steep but offer a good calf stretch and thigh workout, some muddy areas as it has been pretty wet lately and occasional horse poop. Apparently many take their horses here for a trail ride, and we even saw one rider with his horse!

Horse and rider on the side to let us pass!
Photo Filled Adventures

Once you start on the trail into the trees, it’s like you are heading into an old forest. Thick and tall trees covered in bright green moss are everywhere! The trails are wide and well marked, easily walked by children, though I would not recommend this for anyone who needs level ground. There are many bumps and small hills along the trail.

Make sure to look up!
Photo Filled Adventures

This really is a nature lovers photography dream. There are so many photo opportunities! I only snapped a few that caught my eye, as we were on our walk. I would love to return to take more detailed pictures!

Moss falling straight down
Photo Filled Adventures

We definitely plan to go back in Spring or Summer when the weather is nicer! Have you been to Whipple Creek?

Get A Second Opinion!

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Dr. Seuss, “The Lorax”

Our recent run-in with Covid-19, has completely opened up our eyes to the world of healthcare. And how broken it really is.

I have always had a great respect for doctors. They helped me through three pregnancies, and delivered three healthy babies. It has been rare for me to question their opinion or advice. Even when the answer was sometimes “We’re not sure, we’re going to keep monitoring to find out”. I respected that because it was my baby on the line, and every situation is different, so they don’t want to assume based on another mother or another baby. I respected that, and everything turned out fine.

At home Covid test

About a week into my husband‘s symptoms, I knew something was off. He had very little energy, barely able to get out of bed, and when he was in bed he was back-and-forth between being too hot, and being icy cold. His temperature would spike, and then there were times where he had no temperature. It was hard to even get him to stay hydrated, much less eat anything at all. He would have coughing attacks, which I could tell were in his throat, not his lungs. All of this was pretty typical of a bad cold. However when we approached day seven and eight of this, I noticed his breathing was different at night. He was no longer taking long drawn out breaths, often accompanied by snoring, he breathing was short and fast. Much faster than normal. It reminded me of what it sounded like when my son got pneumonia.

I started looking it up in combination with Covid, and it talked about the potential for pneumonia or even blood clots. That night, in a state of deliriousness, he even started telling me “If I die, please get remarried, do this and do that, know that you’ve been a great wife and I love you”, which of course had me bawling like a baby. That’s how bad he felt. So I took him into the hospital first thing the next morning on day eight of his symptoms.

One good thing about going to the hospital first thing in the morning, is that it is not packed. He was seen right away. However as they were taking his vitals, they kept saying “Everything looks fine”. His oxygen was at 94, blood pressure looked fine, and his lungs sounded great. He asked them several times about different treatment options, and they kept saying that he wouldn’t qualify, or even if they tried to order the monoclonal antibodies, it would take a few days to get approved and he would be out of the range of being able to get it. Apparently it’s not supposed to be given after the 10th day of symptoms, or the 10th day of testing positive. Plus, he would have to drive a half an hour south to get it anyway. They were very reluctant to do anything, not even give antibiotics and told him to just ride it out at home (like everyone else does).

But I could feel that something wasn’t right. Being curled up in bed for that many days, not being able to regulate body temperature, not even being able to eat, barely able to drink anything. I felt completely helpless, not knowing what to do to help him. Were we supposed to just wait for him to get worse? Really not be able to breathe before they would help him? Because at that point it’s a ventilator, and we all know what happens when people get on those.

Two friends had recommended that I reach out to Kirkpatrick Family Care, as they helped them when their family had gotten Covid. When I called to find out more, the first thing on their answering service was an announcement that they had Regeneron available for those who are at risk or have been exposed to Covid or are dealing with Covid. I immediately thought, “This is already a night and day difference”. A hospital who is reluctant to give medicine, and someone who is telling everyone who calls we have this available. We got him set up to talk with the doctor over the phone that day, who was able to pull up his charts from the hospital. After talking with him about his symptoms and hearing him over the phone, said “You need to start antibiotics tonight and come in tomorrow for the monoclonal antibodies”. He hadn’t even received treatment yet, and I already felt like the care and service between these two, was night and day!

Even after just one pill of antibiotics, he already felt a slight difference the following morning. But he was still pretty out of it and very warm. His whole body was releasing heat. We took him in to get the Regeneron, monoclonal antibodies, which they administer intravenously. It took about 45 minutes to get it, then they had him wait in the clinic for a half an hour for monitoring.

Receiving the antibodies intravenously

He seemed about the same for the first 12 hours after treatment, but that night during sleep, I heard his breathing go back to long drawn out breaths. I just about cried, being able to hear him take a normal breath. I knew he was on the mend. Once we passed the 24 hour mark after treatment, it was like he woke up again. His eyes were more open, his energy was up, he was able to drink and joke, it was like he was alive again. About 30 hours after, he could sit up and watch a movie with me, and he didn’t even fall asleep during. He was no longer radiating heat out of his body, he could eat a little and drink more than he had before. He would still get hot flashes, and would still cough, but he was like a whole different person. Now, 5 days later, he continually tells me how much better he feels and he barely has a cough left. He is almost back to normal activities and no more hot and cold sweats!

This whole experience has opened our eyes and made us lose complete respect for the doctors who subscribe to “the rules” and don’t actually treat their patients. Even our regular care doctors who are under the same umbrella as the hospital, told us the same thing, “Ride it out at home”. You’d think they would want to treat patients, to keep them out of the hospital and on ventilators. The switch is happening, we are no longer putting our healthcare and our lives in their hands! Moving on to a clinic who isn’t even anti-vax, as they are offering the vaccine and booster, they just actually practice medicine and treat their patients. I wonder what else they can help with, that I’ve been told so many times over the last few months “We don’t know why”.

If you are sick from Covid-19, and feel something isn’t right, please don’t wait for the need for a ventilator. Get a second opinion, because there is actually treatment available!!

Treasured Ornaments

“Some Christmas tree ornaments do a lot more than glitter and glow, they represent a gift of love given a long time ago.”

Tom Baker

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday and time of year. Christmas music, decorating the house and the Christmas tree, spending time with family, remembering and celebrating the birth of Jesus, and thinking of the perfect gift for friends and loved ones. I have to admit when my husband and I got married, the holidays weren’t celebrated in a big way until we had our first child. Once our first was born, the youthful side of me came back, wanting to celebrate every holiday and wanting them all to be special. Especially Christmas!

11 years ago, we celebrated our first Christmas as a family of three. That year we received the most wonderful Christmas gift from a friend – a painted clay ornament with all of our names on it. It was the first ornament that included all three of us and was the most special ornament on the tree! We loved the material it was made out of, the fun colors and how personal it was.

First Christmas Family Ornament : Photo Filled Adventures

That one ornament sparked a tradition for our family. We wanted to get more ornaments like that one, but they needed to be unique and special. We thought, “What if each child gets their own? It could become a tradition!” We found a company called Bronner’s, who specializes in Christmas ornaments. We ordered our first ornament which included my son’s name, birthdate and weight at birth. It became the second most special ornament on our tree!

Baby’s First Christmas Ornament from Bronner’s – Kaius : Photo Filled Adventures

Two Christmases later, in 2012, we welcomed another addition to our family and of course we had to get another ornament! But this time not only did we get our second son his own baby ornament, we also bought another family ornament as our family had expanded!

Baby’s First Christmas Ornament from Bronner’s – Miciah : Photo Filled Adventures
Family in Pajamas Christmas Ornament from Bronner’s : Photo Filled Adventures

This leads us to November 2016, and the day my daughter was born. Shortly after I was able to sit up comfortably after having a C-section, I pulled out my phone and ordered her own baby ornament. And of course, another family ornament as our family had expanded again! I didn’t even wait until I was home – I was so excited about being able to order another set of ornaments and wanted them to arrive before Christmas!

Baby’s First Christmas Ornament from Bronner’s – Aurelia : Photo Filled Adventures
Family of Snowmen Christmas Ornament from Bronner’s : Photo Filled Adventures

This tradition is one we hope to pass along to our children and grandchildren. There’s something special about pulling out the ornaments each year, and finding the one that belongs to you and you alone! Pulling them out always leads to the stories of when they were born, how much they weighed, and how special they each are! Many thanks to Bronner’s for providing such wonderful memories!

What are your favorite Christmas ornaments and family traditions?

Perfect day for a car wash!

“Everyday of your life is a another lesson. If you learn the lesson well and apply it; whether positive or negative, you determine what happens in your tomorrow.”

~David Kofi Awusi

Our van is beautiful again, not because of a drive-thru car wash but thanks to our kiddos! 

What a valuable lesson it is for kids to grow up knowing they can do the work themselves, and it really just takes a little time. When there is extra money coming in, the luxury of going through a carwash or a drive-thru for food, can be fun, convenient and less work. Giving these opportunities to realize they can do things for themselves, is going to help them financially in the long run, plus teach valuable skills! 

In college there were kids who had never done their own laundry or cooked their own food. Simple life skills weren’t taught, or expected of them before leaving the house. That memory alone has shaped the way we are raising our kids. They help us with laundry, folding clothes, baking, cooking dinner, setting the table, and cleaning up before doing something fun like watching a movie. Helping feed and take the dog out, occasional outdoor work and washing the vehicles are also thrown in. As they get older, we’ll start teaching them how to use the lawn mower as well. And I suppose in 4 short years, we’ll also be teaching our oldest to care for and drive a car (no!!!)! 

Today’s fun was washing the van! It was such a nice day outside, and they’ve helped me wash cars before so this was not new. It was not hard at all to get them out there to help me, as we try to instill some life lessons in what we are doing. “I could do this by myself, but it would take much longer, and wouldn’t be as fun. So if we all work together, this won’t take very long!” 

Sometimes they fight over who gets to spray the van down, so we have them take turns. One will spray it down while the other two wash, then they take turns rinsing. They work pretty well together, outside of the occasional, “Hey, you got me wet!”, which is the main reason we only wash on warm days. 

Life lessons are important to learn, but the more fun you can make them at an early age, the less trouble you will have getting them to help you as they grow up. They will simply be used to it! 

What life lessons do you add into your regular household chores or projects? 

Favorite restaurant on San Juan Island

“You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.”

Kurt Vonnegut

During a recent trip to San Juan Island, my husband and I had the opportunity to try four, almost five, different restaurants on the island. There are two we enjoyed more than the others, but there is one that came out on top! Not only the drinks, the food and the service, one restaurant in Roche Harbor stood out! 

Herb’s Tavern

Herb’s Tavern is located in Friday Harbor. We wanted to check this one out because of the fish and chips picture we saw on Google Maps. However my husband had read a review saying that there was only one waitress, who was also the bartender AND the cashier. Sure enough when we arrived, the tables were almost full, there were a few people already waiting and there was only one waitress. We decided to look elsewhere for food. 

San Juan Island Brewing Company

The San Juan Island Brewing Company, located in Friday Harbor, had a very pretty building and was ready to serve people outdoors. Another great thing was their online menu, that we viewed with our phones vs printed menus that would need to be cleaned. The site was very organized, and provided a nice mobile experience! The clam chowder was a little disappointing though, as it was liquidy, the potato chunks were pretty large, and though it tasted creamy it wasn’t super flavorful. The salmon salad I ordered and salmon burger my husband ordered, were bland and dry. For those who enjoy wine, beer and burgers, we are sure they’d love this place! We were just hoping for some cocktail drinks and tasty fish.

Friday’s Crabhouse

Friday’s Crabhouse, located in Friday Harbor, was our third favorite restaurant. The top floor bar area had a great view! 

Friday’s Crabhouse view from the bar! Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures

The seafood platter was delicious, especially the fried scallops, and the salmon chowder was filling. The drinks were good, just had too many small ice chunks that we had to chew. This restaurant was a little more casual than we were looking for. There were no waiters for the tables. We ordered at the bar and when our food was ready, they didn’t know where we were sitting, so they had to call out “Josh?” “Josh?” Although it could be fun when everyone is tipsy, it was a little too casual for us. The other thought we had at this restaurant was “Why would you put the bar on the top floor? Wouldn’t the tipsy ones fall down the stairs?”

Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures

BlueWater Bar & Grill

BlueWater Bar & Grill is also located in Friday Harbor, and was our second favorite restaurant. The fish and chips tasted delicious and my husband loved the taste of the fries. The crab cake I ordered was also very good and even better when I added their hollandaise sauce on top! 

Fish & Chips, Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures
Crabcake, Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures

We ended up coming back a second time, as we really wanted to try their breakfast menu. We both ordered Eggs Benedict, mine with sausage and his with crab cakes. Both were very satisfying! Their hollandaise sauce was creamy and smooth, and had almost a cheesy flavor to it. 

Eggs Benedict, Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures

Roche Harbor Resort 

Roche Harbor, Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures

Roche Harbor Resort is in Roche Harbor, which is on the Northwest end of the island, and so a little more removed from the hustle and bustle of Friday Harbor. The clam chowder had small cut potatoes and was very flavorful! It was creamy and not too thick, plus super flavorful. The flavor likely enhanced by bacon. Just enough to brighten up the flavor. 

Clam Chowder, Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures

We weren’t super hungry when we arrived, so we ended up sharing a meal. We shared fish tacos, which we weren’t sure would fill us, but after a drink and the clam chowder, we were stuffed after only two tacos! The fish pieces were large, the toppings on top and inside were super flavorful and delicious! There was a slight heat from the sauce, which was an avocado and lime sauce, but it went well with all of the flavors. My husband even complimented the chips and salsa that came with the tacos, which tasted very authentic and more homemade than others he’s tried. 

Fish Tacos, Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures

We also ordered their cheesecake for dessert! If you like cheesecake at all, you will love this! Creamy and sweet, and the berry compote on top went well with the flavor of the cheesecake. I have tried several versions of cheesecake (I am slightly addicted), and this one tasted amazing. I almost didn’t want to share with my husband! 

Cheesecake, Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures

To drink, I had a pineapple mojito. Mojitos are my current favorite drink – sweet, and yet a bit of zing with the mint and lime. Sweet and sour mixed! My husband got a Long Island Iced Tea, which he loved. They had several mixed drink options and even had a vast wine selection. 

Long Island Iced Tea & Pineapple Mojito, Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures

The service was excellent! The hostess asked if we’d like to be seated outside or inside, and took us to a table right away with a gorgeous view. It was evening when we visited, so they even had outside gas heaters turned on and ready for us. 

View from Roche Harbor Resort, Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures
Shadows from the setting sun! Photo Credit: Photo Filled Adventures

Our waitress (who I’ll call Jane, to maintain her privacy) was the best waitress we had all weekend! She gave us just the right amount of time to order, the food came out quickly, and every time we were done with one thing she was there to give us the next. We had just finished the clam chowder and she came out and took our dish. Less than five minutes later our main dish came out. Literally as we were scraping the plate of our main dish, she came out with the cheesecake. I said “Wow, it’s like you knew we were ready!” She asked at that point if I’d like another drink, and because she asked at just the right time, I said “Yes”! We both thought, “This has been our favorite restaurant so far and wow, that waitress was on top of it!” We would return to their restaurant again! 

Have you been to San Juan Island? What other restaurants would you recommend?

Motherhood and Mother’s Day

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”

~Unknown

The way you celebrate Mother’s Day changes over time. As a child, I remember picking flowers for my mother and making her breakfast in bed. That was my favorite thing to do for her, and it became sort of a tradition! Then you become a mom yourself and the way you look at Mother’s Day begins to shift. YOU are now being celebrated and get to watch your children establish their own tradition of how they want to celebrate you. Being a mother for almost 11 years, the way I think about Mother’s Day and my children has continually changed. 

I loved how much my babies needed me when they were young, their sweet sounds and how soft their skin and hair were. But there is something even more awesome as they begin to grow and need you in a different way. They now look to you to guide them and encourage them to explore and try new things. In some ways I miss those innocent baby days, but watching my little ones grow up, fills me with awe every day over the littlest things.

Ages and Stages 

So far my favorite age range has been years 2-5. During these preschool years I find them excited to try everything, helping me bake, doing crafts, singing duets with me and exploring the outdoors. My youngest daughter is in that stage now, and we have so much fun together! We dance, sing, and play ball together outside daily, and have a special reading and bonding routine as I tuck her in for bed at night. She also loves to help me bake waffles, cakes and cookies. The other great thing about this age, is their fascination with learning every new thing possible! I love teaching her how to read recipes, measure and mix ingredients. And I always use baking as a teaching tool for Math! “If we have 4 strawberries, and I take one away, how many are left?” and even at four years old, she is catching on quickly! She also loves to paint and for this year’s Mother’s Day, she helped me do just that! I wanted to paint our home front door, as I’ve always loved houses with a colored door and never took the time to do so, until now. She was my big helper and we knocked it out in no time! 

Painting the door: Photo Filled Adventures

My two boys have passed the preschool stage and are onto the next stages. One is 8 years old, almost 9, and is beginning to really learn what he likes: drawing, video games, listening to music, taking walks, running, playing outside and strengthening his skills in math. He’s always been a busy one from the time he could walk. We knew from a young age he would be good at sports – so competitive, learning many things early simply by watching his older brother. His love of soccer and basketball keep him busy outside and staying active! 

My oldest is 10, and will be 11 soon. He has already shifted into some pre-teen tendencies: sleeping in, spending more time on his own, reading novels, creating his own music playlists, getting involved in something at school simply because he is interested in it and a voice that’s squeaking all over the place! I’m not ready for my baby to be heading towards middle school and being almost as tall as me! He struggled with online school the first half of this year and lost some of his confidence, but the second half of the year with a new teacher and many hours of my husband’s efforts in not only making sure he stayed caught up, but also understood what he was learning. His main struggle was math, and now he’s ending the year testing two grade levels above in math and one grade level above in reading! Watching his confidence grow and the effort he is putting in again makes me so thankful for amazing teachers and my amazing husband who cares so much. 

Photo Filled Adventures

Mother’s Day changed as they got older! 

Another thing I love about motherhood and when children begin to grow, are the awesome Mother’s Day projects they bring home! When they are very young, they have no idea what Mother’s Day is. As they get older, this holiday means so much more when you hear those little voices saying “Happy Mother’s Day” and bringing home handmade gifts. I won’t be able to keep all of their projects over time, but the ones they bring home for me are the most special!

4-year old Mother’s Day gift: Photo Filled Adventures

8-year old Mother’s Day gift: Photo Filled Adventures

Though I try to keep them, I think I’ll eat this one!

8-year old Mother’s Day gift: Photo Filled Adventures

What ages and stages have you loved the most? What have been your favorite Mother’s Day memories? 

Dalles Mountain Ranch: A windy but beautiful adventure!

“Like wildflowers; You must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.”

E.V.

My husband heard about this state park and ranch filled with flowers, so we decided to take a detour on our way to Eastern Washington to check it out! Dalles Mountain Ranch, which is part of the Columbia Hills State Park in Lyle, Washington. 

Getting there

Driving down Highway 14, heading East, you’ll see the sign for Dalles Mountain Ranch and a road on the left and then a dirt road on the right. Don’t pass it! Be prepared to drive the 3+ mile dirt road. Before a few of the corners the signs will say they suggest a speed of 30 mph, but that didn’t make sense to us as we were only driving 10 mph! Any faster and the van would start vibrating from the dirt road. It looked like the road had been grated, to prevent people from going too fast, but even so we were still passed by a few folks not concerned about it! We decided to spare our van and drive slowly. 

Dirt Road – Photo Filled Adventures

Columbia Hills State Park – Photo Filled Adventures

On the left along the way, you’ll see a cute little stream coming down through the rocks. You may not think much of it, but if you take the photo at the right angle, it turns out really nice!

Stream – Photo Filled Adventures

Flowers and a view! 

There are beautiful flowers growing all over! I didn’t know what they were called so when I got home, I looked them up (as I had no reception at the park). Turns out the yellow flowers are Gaillardia Aristata aka “Blanket Flower”, which are in the sunflower family. They definitely look like sunflowers! Except they grow in small bunches, almost like daisies. 

Blanket Flower – Photo Filled Adventures

The Lupine flower (purple), complimented the yellow nicely! There were several blooms, and even more that hadn’t quite bloomed yet. Later in April through May will likely bring even more! 

Lupine Flower – Photo Filled Adventures

And what a gorgeous view! Flowers for miles…

Quite a View – Photo Filled Adventures

Same flowers, in the hands of a professional!

My husband is an awesome photographer and he not only took photos of the flowers, he brought them back and worked his magic! You can check out more of his work here: www.jgsolomon.com 

Photo Credit – JGSolomon

Photo Credit – JGSolomon

Photo Credit – JGSolomon

Trails Galore! 

There are several trails and places to hike at the park. Just make sure to check out this guide to the trails and the cautions. There are certain areas where there are snakes and ticks, plus you don’t want to get turned around! 

Trails – Photo Filled Adventures

Climbing the Trails – Photo Filled Adventures

Windy! 

Be aware, there is a ton of wind up in these hills. You open the car door and the wind swings the door open for you, so be careful! It’ll whip your hair around quite a bit, so bring a hat! By the time we came back into the car, our ears and hands were cold. I wondered what it would be like in summer with the wind still here, but the summer heat as well. 

Hold onto your hat! – Photo Filled Adventures

Even our dog was being blown around!

Wind Blown – Photo Filled Adventures

Don’t go too far! 

If you continue down the dirt road, you’ll get to a sign that says “Primitive Road, no warning signs” – and they aren’t joking. It starts out pretty similar to the rest of the road, but then you’ll start hitting potholes and as you begin to climb the hill, the rocks get bigger and much more pointy and sharp. We feared for our van tires, so found an inlet to turn around. There is a pretty nice view up there though, so if you have a back road vehicle, you should be fine!

Rocky Points – Photo Filled Adventures

Columbia Gorge View – Photo Filled Adventures

On your way out

As you leave the park, you may even see the bulls of the farm saying goodbye! There were several, but this one gave us a smile! 

Photogenic Bull – Photo Filled Adventures

Have any of you visited this park at different times of the year? If so, what was your experience like?