She fits right in

February 25th, 2015

One of the good things about being an introverted hermit homebody is that I don’t feel like I had to give up on a lot of stuff when I had a baby. We don’t eat out much (uhm, picking up Qdoba doesn’t count), nor do we like to go out and party. (Okay, so introverted, homebody, and just plain old.)

I was discussing this with JK last weekend and came to the conclusion that the only things I really miss about my old life are: 1) sleeping in when I need to and 2) being able to run the downhills on hikes. Not exactly a huge sacrifice to make in exchange for a life shared with the cutest little Nora in the world, eh?

There are polar bears on Mount Rainier?

Not only that, but most things are just more fun with Nora along. Even little things like going to the grocery store (or Qdoba!) is a little adventure when seen through her eyes.

Where are Nora's snowshoes?

We’re at a stage now where it’s really easy to take Nora hiking, so we’ve been able to keep that important part of our family life going, too. One of our traditions is to go to Paradise at least once every winter, and this year was no exception. There’s hardly any snow at all in Washington this year, but Paradise has a modest cover – enough for lil’ Norbert to go on her first snowshoeing trip.

Nora's first snowshoe trip

After feeling the biting wind in the parking lot, we bundled Nora up in wool jammies, leg warmers, and her polar bear suit. It turned out to be a little too warm – the wind died down quickly and I stripped down to a t-shirt by the end of the day myself. Nora’s layering is the most frustrating part of our baby hikes so far. This time we had the added challenge of sun protection, since we were in high-elevation sunshine with added reflection from the snow. We brought a sun hat, sunglasses, and mineral sunscreen.

JK gets a chance to try out pregnancy

Luckily, she stayed tucked inside the Ergo, happily asnooze and out of the sun, while we hiked. She woke up just as we reached Glacier Vista, where set up a little lunch station in a spot of shade from a swaddle blanket attached to our hiking poles.

Lunch break

We had to take her out for a quick photo shoot though, because ehrmagerd, cute little yeti cub with a majestic backdrop!

*raspberries* Here comes the Noradactyl!

In addition to my Loo with a View: Scenic Shitters of Washington album, which celebrates the many beautiful privies on our hiking trails, I should make a collection of my favorite al fresco nursing spots. This one takes the cake so far.

<3

We had time for a surprisingly long and luxurious lunch break, enjoying the views, listening to rock fall on the Nisqually, watching skiers zooming down Pan Face and little ant hikers snailing their way up to Camp Muir, and playing airplane and blowing raspberries at Nora. She truly seems to love being outside – I’m sure all babies do – which warms my heart to no end.

Flying yeti cub

After a while, we realized we had to start hiking back in order to make it home before Nora’s bedtime. The timing would be perfect: she could take a peaceful nap in the car, wake up and play for a little while at home, then go to sleep, dreaming of snow and big marshmallow mountains. Well, that nap never happened… Let me add one more point to the list of things I miss: 3) peaceful, non-eardrum shattering car rides. That thing people say about babies magically being soothed in cars? Lies, all lies!! But those car rides are still oh so worth it for a day like this.

Perfect day to blow off work

Glacier Vista | 3 miles | 700 feet elevation gain –

Nora & mamma

Favorite hikes | 2014

February 5th, 2015

I love writing these yearly reviews and looking back on the time that has passed, especially since my life seems to just keep getting fuller and better as the years amble on. 2014? Fantastic. Amazing. Wonderful. There were some challenges, which comes with the territory of being a new parent, but what is life without challenges? I just feel so damn lucky to get to experience any of this at all. (I’m also conveniently choosing not to remember the whole morning sickness thing. Lalalala!)

Snowshoe football Leinster Bay

In January, before the NFC Championship Game, we went to Mount Rainier with some friends for a snowshoe handegg session. We hadn’t started telling people about the pregnancy yet at that point, so I remember being embarrassed about the amount of huffing and puffing I was doing on the short hike to Glacier Vista, but hopefully the others were too distracted by the beautiful and freakishly warm weather to notice.

Aah, St. John. Our favorite island getaway. We returned in 2014, this time staying at the Coral Bay Eco Retreat, the perfect rental home for us – sleeping in an outdoor bedroom, cooking in an outdoor kitchen, showering in an outdoor shower, and there was even a loo with a view! Another bonus was the access to the Johnny Horn Trail, which led us down to Waterlemon Cay, one of the finest snorkeling spots on the island. Every time we’ve snorkeled here, we’ve seen tons o’ turtles and, uhm, fajillions o’ fish. The trail was pretty cool too, steep and rocky under a canopy of green, with a short side trail to the ruins of an old guardhouse.

Coming September 2014 Ebey's Landing

We did a lot of lowland hikes last winter and spring, mostly in crappy weather and with me having to stop and puke once or twice per mile (okay, so I do remember morning sickness), but some were very wonderful indeed, like when we hiked to Poo Poo Point to take an announcement photo…which eventually ended up as an oil painting in Nora’s nursery!

Ebey’s Landing has become a spring favorite of ours, and this year’s hike was no exception. We saw orcas, ran into friends, and I didn’t puke once! Huzzah!

I'm gonna be huge by September 22 weeks at Goat Lake

Another spring classic is Sauer’s Mountain, near Leavenworth. I like to get at least one good balsamroot hike in every year, and this is my favorite. I hope we’ll be able to go this year too, with Nora bouncing along in her carrier. Maybe a long weekend in Leavenworth is in order.

Goat Lake was the hike where I physically felt the best last year – morning sickness had ended for the most part, and it was the last hike before my pelvis decided to go mental on me, so I could still hike far and run when I wanted to. I was feeling pretty damn good mentally, too, seeing as it was Mother’s Day and I couldn’t stop thinking about that little nugget of mine.

Beautimous trail Lunch spot

Twin Lakes was a new trail for us, and what a trail it was! I’m used to hiking up up up through forest forest forest and then reaching a view, but this trail had lots of variety. Beautiful from start to finish.

By the time my birthday came around, I had decided to choose the rest of my hikes for the year out of the Best Hikes With Kids book so I wouldn’t fudge up my pelvis. Instead of hiking to Iron Peak for my birthday, we visited Esmeralda Basin. The slick mud and snow were still a little too much, but the views were classic Teanaway…and I got to spend the rest of the weekend relaxing on a Thermarest while JK fed me cupcakes (this was the week before my gestational diabetes diagnosis, sigh) and did all the camp chores.

Mirror Lake pool bar Hiking to Noble Knob

In July, we decided the best way to cool off during the heatwave was to get up early and hike the shortest trail possible to a good swimming lake. Mirror Lake fit the bill perfectly. See, this Best Hikes With Kids thing isn’t so bad.

Noble Knob always makes it onto the Favorite Hikes list, because it’s Noble Knob and can do no wrong in my eyes. Even when the trail is packed with over a hundred ultrarunners and your dog rolls in elk poop. Best hike of the year, at least pre-Nora.

34 weeks down, sixish to go! 35 weeks

I had yet to see a marmot in 2014 come August, so JK and I decided to hike around Sunrise on Mount Rainier since that place is just lousy with my favorite rodents. Not only did we spot the fattest marmot in the universe, but also a herd of goats and masses of homo sapiens.

The wildlife bonanza continued when we went to Snow and Bench Lakes and spotted a bear! At this point I was 35 weeks pregnant and Nora had dropped, making me waddle like a duck and generally feel like I needed to start staying closer to home. We mostly did lowland hikes after that, until I started having contractions while picking mushrooms on Tiger Mountain at 38 weeks. Our bestest little Nora was born the next day, and our lives changed forever!

First hike! Mukmuk family

…but we still like to hit the trails once in a while. When she was ten days old, Nora demanded to go for a hike on Tiger Mountain to see how the mushrooms were doing. They weren’t doing well at all since it hadn’t rained, but let’s not complain about dry summer weather. Let’s also not complain about walking in the woods with a brand new, tiny, delicious, perfect human being on your chest. The only thing better than baby smell is baby smell mixed with tree smell. Love. Love, love, love.

In November, we took Nora to Mount Rainier for her first alpine hike. The marmots had already started hibernating for winter, but no worries, we had our own little Mukmuk in tow. Beautiful light, beautiful mountain, beautiful sunset, beautiful girl.

2014, you rocked.

Weekend highs and lows

February 3rd, 2015

Oh, Super Bowl. It was a hell of a game, but that ending…ugh. Beyond functioning as snark against the Patriots, the word ‘deflated’ really does sum up how we felt on Sunday night. And all day Monday. And a little bit today, to be honest, but I’ll blame that on the weather.

Super Bowl Sads

On Saturday, before the monsoon began, the weather looked pretty different. In fact it looked like June up in the mountains along I90. The Ira Spring trailhead parking lot was overflowing as if it were a hot summer day (but who cares about crowds when most of the hikers are wearing 12th Man jerseys)! The forest road is, as expected, pretty awful right now, but apparently Nora thought she was riding in a giant Mamaroo and kept sleeping until we reached the trailhead.

Juneuary

We really shouldn’t have been able to schlep an infant to Mason Lake in January at all, normally those hillsides are covered in huge amounts of unstable snow. Yet there we were, comfortable hiking all the way to the lake on bare trail. I have never seen this little winter snow in Washington before.

Mason Lake

The only uncomfortable bit was right at the lake, where we were hit with some sort of evil wind that seemed to pick up an arctic chill from the lake and blast it right at us. Of course this happened just as Nora made it very clear that she was in need of some milk and her very first al fresco diaper change.

Hello Tahoma

Between a foam sleeping pad, a puffy jacket, and using our bodies as shields, we were able to keep her nice and toasty, but the lakeside was no place to linger with a wee one in tow.

So this is...January??

Even without a relaxing lakeside lunch, it felt great to get out for some exercise. I don’t think all the little stabilizers around my joints are back to normal yet (it could be some lingering relaxin hormone, too), but apart from that, I feel like my old self, at least physically – 97% of my mental capacity is perpetually concerned with Nora.

The remaining three percent is split between wondering where I can get my next hit of chocolate, and trying to understand what the hell that last play of the Super Bowl was about.

It's us again!

Mason Lake | 6.5 miles | 2400 feet elevation gain –

Seahawks, thanks for an amazing season. You’re totes still the bestest.

Go Hawks!

A handegg convert

January 30th, 2015

It’s Blue Friday, and Super Blue Friday at that! I used to hate handegg, but when JK started getting into it last season, I felt like I was missing out. When I finally sat down and truly pay attention to a Seahawks game (and have JK explain the rules, because man alive, so complicated!), I realized it’s actually an insanely exciting and interesting game. Way more so than real football (sorry, rest of the world).

Representing Seattle at Skinny Legs

I lucked out with the timing since the Seahawks ended up going to the Super Bowl last season, and we got to watch them win while sitting at a bar called Skinny Legs in Coral Bay, St. John. Aaah, memories. Now we’ve made it to Super Bowl again, and while we won’t be watching from quite such an exotic locale this time, at least I won’t have to sneak out to puke during the game. #morningsickness

Go Hawks!!

I may be called a bandwagoner thanks to the suspicious timing of my fandom, but at least Nora was born a 12th Man. The Hawks played their first game of the season the day Nora came home from the hospital, so she got started early, experiencing her first game while snoozing on pappa’s chest.

Nora's first 12th man photos At Qdoba, official sponsor of the third trimester and most of my postpartum dinners
U mad bro? Good luck charm

Today we went into JK’s office to take part in the Blue Friday celebration. I’ve never experienced a community getting this excited about a team before! Seattle is blue and green as far as the eye can see. Our little Baby Beastmode got Skittles, of course.

Nora's first Skittles

Nora and JK’s personalized hats were made by my mom, by the way – aren’t they amazing? Nora’s hat elicited countless “aaaaaaws” from passersby today.

Blue Friday

Anyway, Super Bowl Sunday is no longer just a day I love because all the trails are empty. Now it’s a day for sitting on the couch while yelling, cheering, (possibly screaming so loud that the baby starts crying, if the NFC Championship Game is anything to go by) and eating greasy things.

Snowshoe football

Wait, does this mean I’m becoming American?

12th Marmot

GO HAWKS!!

More scrapbooking, sort of

January 29th, 2015

Oops, I got ahead of myself with that last scrapbooking post and forgot to include my best, easiest, laziest idea – an *insert your holiday of choice* card album! I simply kept a Christmas card for myself, wrote down the highlights of the year, and voilĂ , 2014 summed up on one card. It’s even easier if you’re organized enough to print a summary of the year onto the cards you’re sending out to your family and friends, something I intend to do next year.

Christmas card album

Now I just need to find a 5×7 album with sleeves that will let you see the back and front of each card, and it’ll turn into a very cool scrapbook in ten years or so. Aaw, it’ll be so cute to see Nora grow from year to year! Oh, and I need to keep making Christmas cards every year. Hmm. Nothing could possibly go wrong with this plan…

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