Monday, December 26, 2011


Christmas was everything I'd hoped it would be this year. Fun, delicious, sincere, handmade and filled with joy and laughter!

The days leading up to Christmas were full. I've never made so many gifts or done so much planning! I actually made a calendar for the days leading to Christmas so that I would be finished making Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers by the big day! And, I am happy to report I loved the process. Planning the gifts, the meals, decorating the house, wrapping the presents! The hardest part was waiting to give Abel his gifts!

That said, Abel cleaned house this Christmas. Ian and I made homemade puppets, a handful of stuffed critters (wolverine, mountain goat, lynx, and dinosaurs!), and a shop/kitchen. Yes, a shop/kitchen. He is crazy about it. The inspiration for the kitchen came from a blog I saw months ago, but the more I thought about the kitchen the more I thought, Abel would love a shop. I knew our house was too small for both a shop and kitchen, unless we combined them. Ian put it together and its perfect. Add to the shop side a set of "tools" and some super cool nails; add to the kitchen side a cute little tea pot and wood spoons and the kid is set! Abel of course got a mountain of other gifts that he also loves, but there are too many to list!

A newish tradition to Rae Christmas has been the addition of "games". We started the tradition a few years ago and this year we upped the ante. Ian and I created a scavenger hunt, the prizes were a can of sardines and a gift certificate to wash dinner dishes! Okay, we made the scavenger hunt on Christmas day and didn't plan for the prizes, we'll do better next year! And yes, there will be another one next year! The scavenger hunt was so much fun. I haven't laughed so hard for ages. It is truly my favorite new Christmas tradition.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, full of family, love and laughter; and wishing everyone a joyous new year!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Planes, trains, pigs ears, and cousins!

That's right, Abel took his first plane ride, ate pigs ears and hung out with cousins. Oh California, there is no place quite like you!

The Rae clan needed a vacation and when the Kenney's welcomed Baby Langdon to the family early this month we knew we had the perfect excuse for a trip. Our visit included five days in San Francisco, Thanksgiving with Jodi's family and a few days of hanging out with Jodi's family in the beautiful Carmel Valley (where Jodi and her family live).

As Ian would say, we ate our way through San Francisco. We didn't eat a bad meal and let me tell you, we ate a few strange ones! We ate delicious chinese food (to include pigs ears, a savory custard with clams, apples and herbs and delicious eel fried rice) at Mission Chinese, breakfast every day at the Farm Table (yes, every day!), sushi (Abel loved it), Indian food (he didn't love it) and Burmese food at Burma Superstar (the tea leaf salad was amazing!). We also got to visit Ian's cousins in Alameda, hang out with friends in town, walk to the top of Tank Hill (we are Raes! We had to find the highest point around), walk along the beach, check out Golden Gate park, play at the Exploratorium, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, eat sugary pastries in Chinatown and browse books at City Lights Books.
Perhaps the most challenging and fun part of our visit to San Francisco was figuring out transportation. We opted to not take a carseat, committing ourselves to only using public transportation. Trains, subway, foot, bus, plane and ferry. No, we didn't take the cable car. They were ridiculously more expensive than the alternatives and slow. I do have to admit that they look pretty cool coming down the street.

From San Francisco we took the Cal-train south to visit Jodi and her family in Carmel Valley. We got there in time for Thanksgiving and it was good! Jodi made a super tasty pumpkin cheese cake, Dave smoked a turkey and the side dishes topped it all off. Dinner was good!

It was fun to see all of the cousins hanging out and "playing". I say "playing" because there were four kids under the age of four. It was a little crazy. Carson and Abel are learning the art of sharing, Peighton is willing to share but would like to be asked first (or so it seems to me) and little Langdon is only 3 weeks old so he's not playing yet. Everyone came out unscathed, only one dish was broken and frankly both of those feel something like small miracles!
That said it was wonderful to spend time in Carmel Valley. It is so beautiful and warm there!

And now we're home. And how I love this place. Walking off of the plane last night in the pouring rain I was reminded of how much I love this place. Of how much this place has come to be my home, my place. Sometimes we have to leave to remember. And now I remember. This place, this life, is so right for me. I'm grateful to have visited family and friends in California, to have seen the sites and eaten tasty food and now I'm grateful to be home. Home with Ian, at 2912 Cottonwood Avenue, with our critters out back, the winter rain pouring down, playing with Abel and laughing at Maddie, while sitting in front of the wood stove.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Abel's first birthday!

We celebrated Abel's first birthday yesterday in style. The celebration included a Halloween party with costumes, friends, candy, delicious food, carrot cupcakes, balloons, and treat-or-treaters! I admit, going into the evening I was worried. A party like that is alot to take. Little man took it all in stride though, smiling and giggling all night.

Thanks to everyone that helped us celebrate Abel's first year. It's crazy to me that he's only been in our life for a year. I'm a lucky Mama. Ian's a lucky Papa. I tell Ian almost everyone day we got a good one, I dare say the best one.
I hope everyone had as much fun on Halloween as the Rae clan did!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Playing in the dirt

We've been spending alot of time in the garden over the last few weeks, mainly planting winter crops and putting the garden to bed, and Abel has been loving it! I'll be honest, he's eaten more dirt than I care to think about but I love seeing him out there, fists full of dirt, digging, exploring, getting muddy; every time I catch a glimpse of him in the garden I am thankful that we created that amazing space. I'd dare to guess that Abel is thankful too.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It was time

A few weeks ago we decided it was time for Abel's first multi-night backpacking trip. A milestone for all eleven month old babes' right?

The original plan was a thru hike, from Cascade Pass to Thunder Creek Trailhead. Four days, three nights in the heart of the North Cascades. High country camps, solitude, alpenglow, water from glacial fed streams, star filled skies, autumn colors; I couldn't wait. I also couldn't commit. What if Abel didn't want to backpack for more than two days in a row? What if it rained? What if it got really cold at night? What if 8 miles was really all we could cover with Abel in a day (not 10-14 like the hike required)? What if we couldn't burn/bury/compost his diapers like we planned and we had to carry them out?

All of these worries were too much for Mama Rae. In the end we decided on a three day, base camp style backpack into Horseshoe Basin, in the Pasayten Wilderness, it was a good choice. To start, the forecast on the east side was drier and warmer than the west side. The trail into Horseshoe Basin was also much mellower than pretty much any other trail we'd considered. The second fact was of at least equal importance to the first. Despite our efforts to go as light as possible we were carrying a 24 pound Abel Rae, in an 8 pound pack into an area with questionable water sources (hence the fact that we each carried 3 liters of water, weighing 12 pounds). Jointly our packs weighed nearly 80 pounds! That is alot more than normal.

The plan for the trip was to drive to the east side and camp as far east as possible (Abel doesn't exactly love car rides). Head to the Tonasket Coop for coffee and pastries and then hit the trail. Hike for three days (spending two nights at whichever campsite struck our fancy) and then making our way home in whatever way possible!

All went well until night two, our first night backpacking. It was chilly. So we bundled Abel up, really well. So well in fact that he couldn't really roll over or scratch his nose and he let us know that this was unacceptable. He actually made it known all night long that it was unacceptable, not continually, but rather intermittently, seemingly each moment I feel back asleep. Another layering system wasn't really possible and in our dead of the night haze we just kept hoping he would fall asleep and stay asleep. That didn't exactly happen. Lets just say it was a rough night for the Rae clan.

The next morning as we slowly rolled out of our tent Ian and I realized we couldn't stay another night. Could not. The huge meadows in their fall glory; the heavy gray clouds that were beautiful without feeling threatening; the endless sky; the crisp, fresh air; the serenity the only the mountains can grant were not enough.

Before heading out we spent a slow morning in camp. Abel found ground squirrel holes to dig in, rocks to chew on, and huckleberry leaves to nibble on. Ian and I savored more than one cup of green tea, laughed as Abel explored a world that adults so often overlook (only 3 inches tall and below!), gave thanks for the high country, congratulated ourselves on even making it into the backcountry with an eleven month old babe and planned future backpacking trips through the Pasayten.

As we headed out, bound for coffee and sleep, I questioned if Abel likes being in his pack, in the backcountry. And while we can't know exactly how he feels I have to believe that he also feels at peace in wild places, that he feels at home among the huckleberries and meadow grasses and that some day he may share my deep love of wild places.

Like This!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cooper Lake

We headed to Copper Lake a few weekends ago for a family camping trip. Somehow we didn't manage to take any pictures in camp, but we did take pictures or our hike.

The weekend was fun, although busy. We managed to squeeze in a hike to the Thorp Mountain Lookout (our friend Betsy is the lookout this year, we brought her a cold beer and a fresh peach!); a few relaxing paddles around Cooper Lake; a refreshing dip in the lake; a delicious hobo dinner with venison, sweet potatoes, carrots and onions, some fire building lessons for my nephew Austin and at least a little time for drinking beer and chatting around the fire!
Camping trips like these don't happen with enough frequency, but when they do I'm always happy that I took the time to play outside and connect with family.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The winter garden

The bulk of the winter garden is in! Yesterday I planted corn salad (for eatin' and as a cover crop), an arctic lettuce blend, radishes, and spinach. A few weeks ago I put in kale, collards, chard, pak choi, brocolli, kohlrabi and brussel sprouts. And, in September we'll put in garlic, shallots or onions and fava beans. Who knew so many things could grow through winter!
Right now we are harvesting cucumbers, zucchini, onions, bush and pole beans, mesculun mix, kale, tomatoes, herbs and carrots. Man, I do love gardening! Some days I'm amazed at how much energy it takes. Some days I'm amazed at how many things we've managed to grow in such a short time frame. And right now, I'm feeling amazed at how many things (I'm hoping) we'll grow this winter!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nooksack Cirque Trail

There has been alot of talk around the Rae house lately about the perfect "baby trail". The perfect Rae baby trail. Ian thinks we need to find trails that are steep or involve some bushwacking, to thin the crowds. I am more of the opinion that we could just go hiking Sunday-Monday. This weekend we chose an Ian alternative. We headed up the Nooksack Cirque Trail, a trail that involves considerable bushwacking.
I will quickly and fully admit that this hike was more challenging on many levels than our first backpacking trip with Abel. The trail was rougher, we didn't have a backup crew (ie. Maria and Dennis) to help set up camp/make dinner/hang out with Abel and Abel couldn't/wouldn't fall asleep in the pack on Saturday. The last of these issues was the most challenging. A tired baby makes for a tired Mama and Papa!
So, we didn't make it all the way to the Cirque. But we did wander along the beautiful Nooksack; feed Abel his first (of many I'm sure) dinner of smoked salmon, couscous and pesto (a meal that goes on pretty much every backpacking trip I plan); sit around the camp fire with a cold beer at the end of a long day looking at looming mountains and melting glaciers; star gaze miles from town; and fall asleep (finally!) to the roar of the Nooksack.
We're lucky, Ian and I, that Abel is such a trooper. The kid seems game to partake in all of our adventures. And when it's too much, he lets sleep take over. Sometimes in the seemingly most uncomfortable positions!
It was a great hike. We are so lucky to live here, to have the North Cascades in our backyard, and to be able to share them with Abel.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Stick vs. hat

And so it begins

I've missed backpacking, alot. Our last trip was nearly 11 months ago. I was 7 1/2 months pregnant and we hiked to Excelsior Ridge. That night I realized the Thermarest just wasn't cutting it anymore. It was kind of sad and kind of exciting as it led to this weekend. Our first backpacking trip with Abel!

Abel's first backpacking trip was up the Baker River. What a perfect little hike through old growth cedar. He was enthralled from the the start. Maybe it was the sheer density of the forest or the looming boulders covered in moss. Or the massive cedars or the Baker River running so fast and cold. Or the talk of bears (we saw alot of scat). Whatever it was I'm convinced the kid wants us to load up our packs again and get out there!

Among the many surprises of the weekend the biggest one was the ease of it all. Abel was pretty darn happy, our packs were pretty light and we were in the woods. It was great.
Other fabulous aspects of the trip: the view of Jagged Ridge, steak on a stick for dinner, watching Abel chew on sticks washed clean by Sulphide Creek, eggs and cresent rolls (cooked on a stick over the fire) for breakfast, Abel's eyes when he looked out of the tent in the morning (we're still here!), Jello cheese cake to celebrate Ian's birthday, walking in the woods again, beautiful wildflowers, almost ripe huckleberries, so much bear scat! I could go on but the essence of it all is that I am so happy to wander in the woods again. And, I am so excited to wander in the woods with Abel, sharing wild places and my love of them with him.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My new disciplines

Forever a student, gardening and raising Baby Rae are the newest disciplines I've under taken. Thankfully both are quite forgiving.

Each new discipline has a journal dedicated to it. Abel's is fully of pictures and documents the marvel of his growth and his adorableness. The garden's is full of lists (to-do, recommendations for next year, ideas for next year, planting dates, harvest dates, local resources). Hopefully both will be interesting to look back on in twenty years, in Abel's case to laugh at his chubby checks and recall the stories and in the garden's to see all that I've (hopefully) learned and how changes in technology and climate impact the foods we grow.

On that note, picture updates of both Abel and the garden.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Family photos

Over Father's Day weekend the Rae clan had to head east. Our reason for making the trek over the pass was a sad one, my brother in law passed away, completely unexpectedly, and we went over to attend his funeral.
Although it was a sad event we went over to attend, it was wonderful to see family.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Garden update

Despite the cold, rain, slugs and other pests the garden is humming right along. The fence is near completion, the peas are finally trellised, the tomatoes are in the ground, SO many seeds have been sown, we've been eating bowl after bowl of delicious mesclun mix, spinach, arugula and beet greens and the radishs are holding their own against some tunnel carving insect that I wish would find a new home!
Creating this beautiful, and bountiful, space would not have been possible without the help of lots of friends! We plan to repay that debt in the form of radishes, zucchini and greens!

Any blog posting wouldn't be complete without a quick update on my favorite little garden helper, Abel Rae. The little man had a big weekend. He rolled over! He ate lamb (pureed into paste, kinda gross)! His first tooth pushed through! And, he got to spend some quality time in the garden and yard watching Ian and I work on projects while trying to copy Maddie by chewing on some of our very long grass out back. Endless entertainment those two!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Handsome, happy Abel

Abel has yet to try to roll over, but at least he likes tummy time now!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our garden

You may have heard tales that a garden is finally gracing what was once a gravel and blackberry covered patch behind our house. It's true! I won't detail the energy, time and resources that have gone into the project, I will simply say this space makes me happy. When I saw our property my first thought was, oh I can't wait to garden here. And now, this year, I will.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hmmm...solid food

Well, if you count rice cereal as solid food then Abel is eating solid food. He loves it! The kid was kind of obsessed with watching us eat, trying to grab the silverware, it just seemed like it was time.
In true Rae fashion we have avoided buying anything "extra" with which to feed him. Abel's dinner dish is an old shaving cup and his spoon is a small sugar spoon. I'm sure he'll graduate to his own spoon and bowl at some point, but why rush things?
One piece of equipment we do have for Abel's new eating ventures are bibs. Those come in handy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Potato time

We planted potatoes this week. WE being Abel and I. Well....he supervised from his wagon.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

He's been here for five months....

...and it feels like he's always been here. And every day when I see him smile I think, we are so lucky.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bed time stories

Mom's night time stories: Good Night Moon, The Lorax, The Night You Were Born
Dad's night time stories: Animal Farm

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tummy time with Maddie

Abel isn't overly fond of tummy time. I don't blame him. He is fond of Maddie though, so we thought why not have tummy time on Maddie's tummy! He seemed to like it. She didn't mind either.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The wood stove

We've spent alot of time in front of the wood stove this winter. Abel and Maddie both like it there, alot.

Invitation by Mary Oliver

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude—
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

— from Red Bird: Poems

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My babes!

Two of my favorite being! I adore them both.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Three months old!

Abel had his second visit to the doctors office this week. He barely flinched when he got his first vaccination, he smiled at everyone, squirmed alot on the scale and we found out that he's in the 95th percentile for height, weight and head circumference! He weighed in at 16 pounds and he's 25 1/2 inches long.
And he is smiling tons now, he's kind of ticklish, and he is starting to grab onto things (like my hair, dinner plate, clothes). It is still amazing to me how much he changes every day and how much fun it is to be a Mama!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Homemade blankets for Abel

Abel, the lucky little fellow that he is, has three homemade blankets. They are all beautiful and I love knowing that people who care for Abel made him these beautiful gifts to keep him warm.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Abel's favorite place to nap

The adventures of Abel Rae

The weekend of New Years was an exciting one for Abel. He went to Baker for the first time and to Oyster Dome! He was a great sport for both.
It might be a stretch to say he "enjoyed" Baker, but he may have. Well, he liked the contrast between the windows and the window panes! The best part of hanging out in the lodge were all of the visitors. Grandma and Grandpa Rae, Dennis, Tob, and Aneka all stopped by to say hi. And, Grandma watched Abel for a bit so Ian and I could ski together. The one big surprise of Abel's first trip to Baker was the number of people there. We failed to consider the impact of a blue bird day and winter vacation, the place was packed. All in all it was a great day and Ian and I are really excited Abel did so well hanging out in the lodge all day and we can't wait to head up again.

His next adventure, a hike to Oyster Dome, was equally great. We started out late in the day and came out in the dark! I have to admit I forgot how steep and long the trail are and the fact that in the winter parts of the trail are often icy. It lead to a longer day than we expected, but if we'd made it out earlier we could have missed the beautiful sunset. And, we walked out alone which was nice, the trail was pretty busy at the start of our hike.

On our drive home from Oyster Dome Ian and I started talking about our New Year's goals. Both of us realized that one of our goals is the same; we both want to get outside with Abel as much as possible. I think it's going to be a great year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011