Summer Dreaming | 2018.

We trekked to REI this weekend in a 50 degree drizzle, but my heart is longing for Seattle's summer sunshine! Every year around this time (since Kyle and I have been married), I have made a summer bucket list of sorts (2014201520162017) to anticipate for and maximize the sunshine! Last year with a new baby I had to adjust and adapt my expectations for adventuring, but this year I feel more grounded on what's realistic for our family.


Camping trips

Bike rides on the Cross Kirkland Corridor

Family picnics

Afternoon walks to the Farmer's Market 

and just maybe... a Half Marathon!?

Give me that sun | Mexico.

We are back from a week in Punta Mita, Mexico, a small Pacific peninsula north of Puerto Vallarta. Kyle and I went a few years ago, but I knew going into this trip that I would need to adjust my expectations with Caden joining us.  A good friend had some insightful perspective, to think of vacation with kiddos as a change in scenery with a chance to have some focused time together as a family without all the normal responsibilities and stressors of life at home. We still had to coordinate naps, change diapers, and address the occasional fussing, but overall the trip was a wonderful and much needed break from the tired, grey winter in Seattle.

I think I'll be advocating for a sunny vacation every winter! 

Snowy Sunday.

We decided to take an impromptu trip out to the mountains to go snowshoeing with friends this weekend.  Getting out and adventuring is a bit more challenging with a baby (i.e timing it between naps, making sure he's wearing enough layers, etc.), but the challenge was rewarded with beautiful views, a fresh layer of powder, crisp mountain air, and good company!    

Tucson in February.

We are back from an extended weekend in Tucson. The weather was a bit chillier than I had hoped, but we got some beautiful views of Catalina Mountains, walks in the dry desert air, and time with grandparents and friends.  Kyle and I also had a few dinner date nights (with free babysitting) which was such a gift for my little foodie heart! 

Memory Keeping.

I've always placed high value on documenting life. I'm a journal keeper and a photo taker. However, in the busy seasons of life it gets more difficult to log all the memories. One of my goals for this year is "intentionality" and with that in mind I decided preserve some of our most meaningful digital images in a tangible form. Our 2017 photo book just arrived in the mail and I couldn't be more pleased with this little keepsake!

Wisconsin Holiday + New Year Expectations

Over Christmas we spent a week visiting Kyle's family in Wisconsin. The temps were freezing (literally sub-zero) but the wood-burning furnace and Caden's smiles kept us warm! We mostly stayed indoors drinking coffee, spending time with family, and staying up late playing games. As a gift, Kyle and I were able to enjoy a baby-free night away in Milwaukee! Then we returned to Seattle and had a low-key, early New Year's Eve (celebrating on east coast time, of course).

As we enter each new year, I always enjoy the exercise of reflecting on the past and setting new intentions for the future. But this year it has been challenging to find time and energy between our travels, Caden's naps, and my own sleepy brain.

One thing is for sure: we are eager to enter a new year with a clean slate. The year of 2017 was complicated. It felt like a long and arduous road filled with trials, but there were some intense joys along the way. We endured a difficult pregnancy, but in May we were blessed with Caden, who is an absolute delight! Then in November I required a second surgery to remove some large fibroids (cantaloupe and orange-sized) that had accompanied my pregnancy. We've entered the fray of parenthood, which continues to bring new and unique challenges, but also some of the sweetest rewards.

In 2018, we are excited for a fresh start as a family of three, reestablishing some rhythms and finding time to adventure. One of our deepest desires is to be more intentional in various aspects of our lives. We are ready for you, 2018!

Cheers and Happy New Year!

The Zabels 

Christmas Came Early | 2017

Since Kyle and I were married, our Christmas rhythms tend to look a bit different each year.  Some elements are consistent, but there is always some variation given the year and circumstances. With families that each live a plane ride away, it's challenging to form Christmas traditions that look exactly the same each year, but we still want to establish our own traditions that are unique and specific to us. This year, we are flying to Wisconsin to spend Christmas with Kyle's family, so we decided to have an early Zabel Christmas at home. For me, it's important to wake up slow, have coffee and Pulla bread, and enjoy time with Kyle and Caden. I want to read the Christmas story and remember Jesus' birth. I want to open thoughtful gifts wrapped under a hand cut tree with ornaments collected from various adventures throughout our years as a family.  I want to enjoy a meal, drink wine, sing happy birthday and eat cake to celebrate! I want to watch White Christmas by the glow of Christmas lights and candles cuddled up under warm blankets. I want to slow down in this busy season and savor time as a family of three, making memories together!  

Merry Christmas!

Caden takes AZ.

At the end of September Caden took his first flight to visit grandparents in AZ.  We were all a little nervous how the flight would go.  Fortunately there were only a few tearful moments, however they felt longer and more intense given the confines of the plane! We had a great visit. It was sweet to see my parents love on him, make him smile, read to him, and give him baths! Caden also met a few of my long time friends who made the drive up to Prescott to visit. We loved the stillness of walking through the pines of Prescott and can't wait to go back and visit!

Summer Fades to Fall.

Holy cow where did the summer go! Oh that's right, we've spent the past several months adjusting to life with a new baby. I had lofty summer goals, but our plans needed a bit of tweaking.  Instead of hiking we drove a little past Snoqualmie for a picnic at Lake Easton State Park to be in the mountains. Instead of camping we pitched a hammock and had a picnic at Greenlake. Instead of a road trip to Walla Walla we met up with friends and walked through the zoo! We largely stayed local spending time with family who came in from out of town to visit. However, we did get out of Seattle a couple times, once to celebrate a cousin's wedding on the hood canal and the other was to Arizona to visit grandparents (which was Caden's first flight). I'm still dreaming of trips and places we want to take Caden, but we are learning that things may look a bit different with our newest family addition and we wouldn't have it any other way! 

Reflection | Marriage Year 4.

It's crazy that Kyle and I have been married four years. Every year is a blessing, and each year is different. This past year has been filled with so much anticipation, change, adjustment, and exhaustion.

We started year three with a multi-week road trip adventure through Glacier National Park, Banff and Jasper. This year we can barely drive a few minutes without our three month old screaming in the car seat!

We always look forward celebrating and reflecting together on our Anniversary. However, we recognize that as life seasons change, the ways in which we celebrate will also change (even a date night is hard to come by these days).

As we reflect on this past year, it's probably been our hardest year yet, but God has been faithful to walk through this season with us. We have certainly grown in the ways we love and serve one another. 

Here are a few reflections from this past year:

  • Sleep is underrated
  • How can a 2 second smile from your baby can redeem 2 hours of screaming?
  • Adventuring is much different with a newborn... and that's ok
  • Document the daily moments
  • Cheep isn't the same as value (some things are definitely worth paying for)
  • It's ok to order takeout at Deru Market multiple times per week, right?
  • Amazon Prime is a lifesaver
  • Sometimes a glass of wine after the baby is in bed can be the best "date night"

 Cheers to the adventures that await in marriage year five (as a family of three)!

The Zabels

Birthdays in Years + Months.

Yesterday we celebrated my 31st birthday and Caden's 3 month birthday. It was a low key and relaxing day - just what I needed. We were up early with the little one, drank coffee and opened cards. Then we packed up for brunch at Tallulah's (one of my favorite spots). We walked through Volunteer Park and took photos at the Conservatory.  For dinner, Kyle grilled some steaks and we topped it off with a slice of my favorite cake for dessert (chocolate peanut butter cake from Deru Market). Thanks for all the birthday wishes! 

Visitors + Reflections.

Over the first several weeks since Caden was born, we have had a quite a few visitors here to meet the little man.  We have been so grateful for family and friends who have supported, cleaned, and cooked for us. It seems crazy that it has already been a little over two months since he was born!  Time flies between feedings, diaper changes, sips of coffee and baby cries. This has been a season of adjustment both for him and us.  We are learning what it looks like to sacrifice in new ways.  I am seeing sides of my heart that are both beautiful and ugly (if I'm honest), but know that these are refining times and I wouldn't trade them. We are beginning to develop rhythms, but I'm sure those will change just as quickly as his weight! I think one lesson that has been most prominent is that I can create a plan, but I need to hold it loosely.   


Photo credit: Kelsey Moll    

Caden's Birthday.

It's been about two weeks since the day Caden Mark Zabel was born (5/6/17). Since then, time has gone by both fast and slow. I feel mixed emotions as I reflect back on that day. It didn't go as I had dreamed or planned, but it ended with a sweet baby boy in our arms and so much to be thankful for.

We found out Caden's birthdate only a few days beforehand. Our c-section was accelerated because Caden was breech and I had some pregnancy complications which made it difficult for him to change positions to enable a natural delivery. A scheduled surgery wasn't how I envisioned labor happening, but it was our reality. We got packed up that Saturday morning and drove to the hospital knowing that in just a couple hours we would meet our son.

About an hour prior to surgery our OB updated us about our most recent ultrasound imaging (done the day prior) and she explained that this surgery could be a bit longer and potentially more complicated than expected. As we entered the operating room, my biggest prayer was for a healthy baby. The anesthesiologist went to work and I slowly lost feeling in the lower half of my body.  

The first part of my surgery was fairly smooth and I soon heard the doctor say, "Kyle stand up and meet your son."  As I looked up at Kyle, I saw him smile and cry; tears began to slip down my face too.  The sound of Caden's first cry was the best sound I could have heard.

The rest of my surgery was less smooth, longer than expected, and certainly not how I imagined those precious first minutes with my son to transpire. But fortunately my ultimate prayer was answered; Caden was a healthy and beautiful baby boy. 

We spent three days in the hospital and my recovery time was slower than I'd hoped, but recently I've started feeling much better. It was such a blessing for Kyle to have two weeks off work and for my mom to stay a few days to help with our transition.

People ask about our birth story and how we are holding up over the past few weeks. My response is that it wasn't glamorous and it's been an exhausting ride so far, but every time we look at Caden we are overcome with joy. It's a beautiful thing to be the parents of a newborn. We are so blessed with this baby boy and pray that we love and parent him well by God's grace.