Cross Country Skiing With Kids!

We were planning on downhill skiing this past weekend but ended up not having a babysitter. Instead, we packed up the kids and our cross-country skis and headed up to Mt. Baker! We hadn’t taken the kids cross country skiing since Eliza was a little baby.

Eliza’s first time XC skiing at age 1.5 months in 2016 (it was in Nebraska…super flat and super safe, we had her in the front pack Ergo)

Mt. Baker has a couple different options for cross country skiing. We knew there was a snowboard competition this weekend AND it seemed like the first non-raining weekend in forever. We wanted to avoid going all the way up to the downhill ski area if possible!

We parked at the Razor Hone/Salmon Ridge Sno-Park (just past mile post 46 on the Mt. Baker Highway). The parking lot was pretty snowy; Seth had to help someone push their front wheel drive out of their parking spot when we were about to leave. The Sno-Park is groomed and has a $20 pass fee per vehicle which can be purchased online ahead of time. You can also buy an annual Sno-Park pass for $40.

Eliza’s first time on her own skis!

Eliza had never tried on skis before, but I found some used kiddie skis the day before we went so Eliza could try cross country skiing too! The brand I got was Lucky Bums Kid’s Beginner Snow Skis (they sell new on Amazon for $45 but I paid $20 getting them used on a buy/sell group). They would not be good for downhill skiing, but they were perfect for Eliza trying out cross country skiing and having skis on for the first time! You buckle in regular kids snow boots and the heel is able to lift up a little bit. Eliza has issues with balance because of being blind in one eye so I was really impressed with how well she did trying to stand and scoot with the skis!

Eliza ready to go in the Deuter pack!

Seth carried Eliza in the Deuter backpack and I carried Oliver in the Ergo when we started on Razor Hone Rd. This is labeled as a green run that goes slowly uphill but we turned around when it started to get steeper than we were comfortable with. It was no problem going uphill but we were a little bit nervous about flying downhill with kids on our backs. The weight of the kids actually did slow us down quite a bit on the downhill though! Oliver and Eliza both weigh about 30 pounds so this might be trickier if you have a heavier 4-year-old!

Oliver trying out holding a ski pole

Overall the kids had an awesome time! We remembered to keep them really warm and really fed which always makes for happier kids! The only time Oliver cried was just before we got back to the car when his legs started to go numb from being in the Ergo for too long. He really should have a child-carrier with stirrups to put his feet in to avoid this issue in the future!

Both kids loved it!

We own cross country skis but there were other people renting – you can rent XC skis and boots for $30 from the Glacier Ski Shop. We want our kids to feel comfortable doing all different types of outdoor activities. I did fall once with Oliver but we were both fine. I also took off my skis on a steeper downhill part that I didn’t feel comfortable doing with Oliver on my back and one of my skis went down the hill without me and landed in the (very shallow) creek on the side. Oops! Hopefully soon we won’t be carrying the kids and they will be skiing right along side us!

The whole family!

The 11 Books I Read in 2019

This post was supposed to be called “The 12 Books I Read in 2019” but I mis-counted how many books I read this year. Whoops! In my defense, I read 5 books in December, 2018 during the long lonely hours by myself at the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle as we prepared for Oliver’s transplant so that is probably why I added wrong!

Fun fact: I graduated cum laude from Western Washington University with a degree in English Literature before my dental hygiene days! I used to read a ton as a kid and then read enormous stacks of books for college each semester. After college (especially during dental hygiene school and then having kids) I read way less…pretty much only my Bible.

I have been keeping track of the books that I read in a notebook since I graduated from college. The genre of books I have been reading has shifted significantly since having kids too.  I used to read quite a bit of fiction and now it is mostly nonfiction.

I’m making another goal for 2020 to read 12 books but I’m planning ahead exactly which 12 books I want to read in order to hopefully be able to actually make my goal this year!

Here is a quick summary of the 10 books I read in 2019!

  1. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway: It was interesting to read about the siege of Sarajevo which happened in 1994. I had actually never heard of this event in history before reading this book. It was a fairly dark book to read (especially during Oliver’s hospital stay) but I’m glad I read it.
  2. Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers: This was a pretty classic Francine Rivers book, perfect to easily pick up and put down in the hospital. There is a sequel to this one that I did not read.
  3. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen: This was a memoir of Susanna’s time in a mental hospital in 1968.
  4. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai: I had been wanting to read this one for a long time and I’m glad I read it!
  5. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: This book was really funny, entertaining, and sad at the same time. I read it in less than a week because it really kept my attention!
  6. For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay: I loved this book! The author references Charlotte Mason quite a bit. I thought this book was going to only be relevant for parents that want to homeschool but it wasn’t! It had so many great thoughts and ideas about raising and teaching kids. I definitely want to reference back to this book often.
  7. Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Hubbard: After moving back home from Seattle with Oliver I kind of went on a parenting book kick since I was finally able to more traditionally “parent” after being apart from Eliza so much for 6 months. I didn’t agree with everything the author wrote but it was an interesting perspective.
  8. The Read Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie: This book was a great read! It discussed the importance of reading aloud to kids of all ages. The author gave tips for helping kids to think and process what they are reading/having read to them. The book probably didn’t quite have to be 288 pages but other than that I would definitely recommend it! It inspired my goal of reading 1000 children’s books to our kids this year.
  9. Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins: This is a memoir of a homeschool mom. I bought this book but probably could have gotten it from the library. The author’s last couple chapters where she sums up what was truly important in life after homeschooling nine kids were my favorite!
  10. For the Love of Discipline by Sara Wallace: This book is probably my favorite parenting book I have ever read! I will probably buy it and reference it again. The first half talked about the “why” behind discipline and the second half of the book had practical tips for behaviors.
  11. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lisa TerKeurst: I’m so glad I read this book when I did! I wrote a whole blog post about this book here.

That’s it! First up on my list for 2020 is to finish Risen Motherhood. If you have any book recommendations, I would love to hear them! I love seeing other people post what they read through the year too because it gives me inspiration and more motivation to meet my goal! Happy reading!

Christmas 2019

We had probably one of the best Christmases ever this year being at home. We were 2 weeks in to a 6 week hospital stay for Oliver’s transplant on Christmas last year. We still have to be extremely careful that Oliver does not get sick so he still was not able to attend every Christmas event, but we modified things so he could do as much as possible!

Some highlights:

  1. The Lighted Christmas Parade! This was Oliver’s dream come true! He loves anything to do with tractors, trucks, etc. and he also loves lights. He was so fascinated by the lights and tractors. We were able to watch from a not very crowded spot so Oliver wouldn’t be in contact with anyone else.
  2. The Nutcracker! Eliza and I got to see the Nutcracker Ballet at Mt. Baker Theater with family and she LOVED it! She couldn’t stop talking about it the next day. I’m probably always going to be just a little bit stressed out going into crowds/busy places and hearing so many people coughing and sneezing and this was no exception but thankfully Eliza did not seem to catch anything from going!
  3. Matching Christmas Pajamas! I was going back and forth of whether or not to buy matching Christmas pajamas and I’m SO glad I did! We wore them so many nights and almost all day on Christmas day. The kids loved matching and I want to continue this tradition in years to come!
  4. Bringing Eliza to church for the first time in nearly a year and a half. We always need a babysitter when we go to church because Oliver can’t be in crowds. I wanted so badly to take our entire family to Christmas Eve service this year, but we just couldn’t risk it with Oliver. Instead we took Eliza to church the Sunday before Christmas and kept her in the row with us wearing a mask. She loved the worship and fell asleep on our laps during the service.
  5. Getting to have Christmas parties with friends and family. We even hosted Christmas for my side of the family!
  6. Spending a quiet Christmas morning with our family. We made breakfast, opened gifts, and then were able to have a quiet day at home in our Christmas pajamas. I was so incredibly thankful for this gift.

We don’t know what 2020 holds for us, especially for Oliver but we are so thankful for the huge blessing that Christmas this year was. We will continue to celebrate that Jesus came to save us so that we can spend eternity with him, no matter what comes our way.

Matching jammies at home!
Eliza loved The Nutcracker!
Opening new rain boots on Christmas morning!
I hope Oliver remembers this Christmas and forgets last year’s!

Mt. Baker Sledding!

On Saturday we packed up the kids and took them up to go sledding at Mt. Baker! We never know if at any time we will be heading back to Seattle Children’s so we are trying to take advantage of all the available time we have home with the kids (especially knowing Oliver’s stem cell infusion was coming up on Monday). We looked at the ski report before we left (the ski area is not open yet) and it looked like there was enough snow for sledding. As we got closer and closer to the top we started to get nervous because there was hardly any snow on the ground. Thankfully at the very top there was about 6” of snow!

Family snow gear brought to you by Costco haha

Once again we learned the lesson the hard way about making sure that we have the right equipment for the kids. Eliza had snow boots for the season but we hadn’t gotten Oliver snow boots yet. We put wool socks on him and shoved his feet in his size 6 rain boots. (The kids are getting new rain boots for Christmas because Oliver is really in size 9 shoe now). Oliver had a total meltdown and was saying, “Ouch, feet!” We ended up trading shoes with Eliza (who has smaller feet than Oliver) and the kids were happy as could be the rest of the time! I went and bought snow boots for Oliver from a thrift store for $7 as soon as we got home.

Eliza thought this sled was a little too fast.

We got a new sled from Costco this year which was really fast! We also got both kids snow suits from Costco this year which have been really nice even just for going on the playground at night with to stay warm. Eliza kept asking if she could go on the “slow sled” because she was scared of the Costco one. We had an old cheap plastic sled along too that we have used the past few years.

The parking lot was surprisingly full for this early in the season! There were quite a few snowshoers, some sledders, and some people hiking up with skis and skins. It was a great day for sledding because it was clear and 31 degrees so we weren’t too cold. Even with the busyness of the parking lot, we were able to walk about 100 yards away from the parking lot and have a perfect sledding hill completely to ourselves!

Seth figuring out that Oliver’s shoes are way too small.

If you are wanting to go sledding I would totally recommend going now before it gets too crazy busy on the weekends at the ski area! It feels so good to get the kids outside seeing the mountains, feeling the different textures, and using their muscles for play!

It is so gorgeous at Heather Meadows!

Golden Ears Provincial Park Day Trip

We have been wanting to visit Golden Ears Provincial Park for a while and yesterday it wasn’t raining, we didn’t have to go to Seattle on a Monday for once, and we packed up the kids and went! Ideally we are hoping to camp there sometime, but we wanted to scope it out first.

It was Veteran’s Day/Remembrance Day so the park was probably quite a bit busier for a Monday in November than normal, but we still had no trouble finding parking. I read online that sometimes during the peak summer months it can be really difficult to find parking for day use.


The park gates are open 8am – 5:30pm in the winter

Golden Ears Provincial Park is in British Columbia, Canada – pretty much straight north of Bellingham/Lynden. We took the Pacific/truck crossing border and it took us about an hour and a half to get there. We have Nexus passes (which I 100% recommend if you live near the border!) so the border crossing was really fast, even for a holiday! The entrance to the park AND parking is totally free at Golden Ears Park! I saw a sign that said camping is $5/person/night.


We got the kids some sweet new wool socks from Amazon – totally recommend!

We did two shorter hikes with the kids and had a blast! First we hiked the Lower Falls Trail which was 2.7km (1.6 miles) each way. The path was really wide and mostly flat packed gravel. I was wishing we had our Bob stroller with us because that would have been much easier than carrying the kids since it was so flat and wide! I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was wheelchair accessible though, because it did get a little bit hilly. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they stay on a leash. The path followed along Gold Creek and ended at Gold Creek Falls.


The park has some massive tree stumps from old-growth trees!

We still had some daylight when we got back to the car so we decided to do the short (1km each way) North Beach Trail to Alouette Lake. The water in Gold Creek was a beautiful blue-green and we were so glad we were able to see Alouette Lake because it was gorgeous! We definitely want to come back and camp! We would take bikes and our inflatable raft for the lake next time.


Alouette Lake

The kids did great the whole time! They loved sitting next to the creek tossing rocks in the water. We brought snacks and their water bottles. Oliver’s one meltdown was solved with a dry diaper. Both kids happily walked extraordinarily slow for about 1/2km of the Lower Falls Trail then were happily carried the rest of the way!


We LOVE being able to get outside and explore with the kids when we can! It is so refreshing to be outside of hospital walls, letting the kids breathe fresh air and discover nature! We also only barely scratched the surface of what there is to see at Golden Ears Provincial Park! We can’t wait to go back!


Halloween 2019!

I have never been a huge Halloween person but I wanted to celebrate this one because of how different it was from Halloween 2018!

Halloween 2018 was spent in the hospital with Oliver. He was admitted for his round of induction chemo and stayed until his blood cell counts recovered. He was inpatient 4 weeks straight. He was also in isolation because of a cold so he was not allowed to leave his room to walk around the halls. Even a cold can turn life-threatening for some phases of cancer treatment so the hospital is very strict about keeping sick kids away from other children in the cancer unit.


Oliver (13 months) dressed up as a Nebraska Football player during his first inpatient stay in October, 2018

Oliver still can’t be out in public because he is immune compromised from transplant, but he was able to dress up and spend some time with his cousins! I wasn’t able to be with Eliza last year on Halloween since she only came down to Seattle on the weekends so this year was extra special since I could see how excited she was to Trick-or-Treat!

Eliza and Oliver both dressed up like bumblebees. Eliza decided to switch costumes with Oliver last minute so he ended up with the more girly looking costume. We went downtown Lynden with Eliza for trick-or-treating which was CRAZY busy! Eliza had a blast though! She was exhausted by the end and even said “Mom, I think I got enough candy, can we go back to the car so I don’t have to walk any more?” (Side note: Eliza does seem to have more energy after finishing chemo – she dropped her afternoon nap about a week after finishing her last chemo treatment!)


Woods Coffee was giving away free kids hot chocolates on Halloween!

At night we were not planning on going around our neighborhood for trick-or-treating but we have a perfect neighborhood for it so after dinner we bundled up the kids and went to about 5 houses. We pulled Oliver in the wagon to watch and let Eliza go up to the doors to knock. Eliza was so excited that the neighbors were giving out treats! When we got home she asked, “Will tomorrow be Halloween too?”

Things are still so uncertain right now with Oliver but we are trying to fully take advantage of every family moment we have at home together! I would say Halloween 2019 was 1000x better than Halloween 2018!