A Week in AZ.

The Zabels soaked up some Vitamin D during a week in AZ visiting my (Elise’s) parents. It was a bittersweet trip as it was likely our last time staying at the house that my dad built in the pines of Prescott. They are in the process of selling the house to move up to Washington! We went for hikes, celebrated Easter, and Kyle and I even got a few days away baby free! I am thankful for more memories made.

Leavenworth Weekend.

We headed over the pass to Leavenworth for a weekend away with friends.

A few memorable moments:

  • Seeing Caden explore the snow at his own pace (cautiously).

  • PB&J sandwiches in the car after a short/failed snowshoeing attempt.

  • Hot-tubbing after the kiddos went to bed.

  • Bratwurst and beers at the Rhein Häus.

  • Enjoying time with friends.

A Week in Wisconsin.

We recently spent a week visiting family in Wisconsin and taking in the beautiful fall colors. Caden loved being outside, exploring the barns, and seeing the kitties and the “neigh” (horse). We took a day trip to a pumpkin patch and watched a lot of Brewers baseball. Kyle and I even took a few days away (baby free) to relax and recharge!

Here are a few photos from the trip.

Summer Fades to Fall.

I always feel like the summer speeds by and it’s all I can do to buckle up and enjoy it!

Our summer was filled with bike rides, park swings, a few weekend trips, farmer’s market flowers, picnics, the occasional date night, water table splashing, furniture re-arranging, and a half marathon.

Here is our summer in photos:




Camping | Diablo Lake.

We took our first camping trip with Caden.  I'll be honest - it was a lot more challenging than we anticipated. There were a host of factors: rain, cold, sleeplessness, and diaper blowouts were all at play.

But if I'm honest, there were also some joys amidst the trials: watching Caden explore in the woods, hiking as a family, finding reprieve at a nearby park, and seeing Diablo Lake (it was beautiful even in cloudy rainy weather)! 

I think the biggest takeaway from this trip is: no matter how much we plan and prepare, we are ultimately N O T in control. I'm learning to embrace the challenges of disrupted plans and seek joyful moments amidst them.

Impromptu Whistler Weekend.

Kyle and I are planners by nature so spontaneity, let's just say it's rare. Last weekend we had originally planned a camping trip in Eastern WA, but the weather forecast and lack of tree cover forced us to bail. Instead, on less than a day's notice, we found ourselves on an impromptu trip up to Whistler BC. Not everything went as we would have "planned" -- the drive was much longer than expected (bad traffic and added stops for Caden), our daytime and bedtime rhythms were totally thrown off, and Kyle was battling a summer cold -- but we made the most of it! Caden loved the hotel pool and staying up past 9pm. We strolled the Village and explored Lost Lake park. My favorite part of the trip was the Peak2Peak Gondola with spectacular views from Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. A trip to Whistler wasn't on our Summer Bucket List, but I'm learning the beauty in allowing my plans to take a backseat! 

Prescott in June.

Last week Caden and I flew to Arizona to see my folks. Let me first say that flying (solo) with a now mobile toddler is not easy, but it was well worth the effort to watch Caden relish time with his grandparents! We enjoyed the outdoors under the mountain pines, took adventures to the park and walks in the neighborhood, and played for hours out on the deck!

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! 

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! 

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!

Glacier | Banff | & Jasper.

We just returned from a two week trip exploring Glacier, Banff and Jasper on what we've called our #zabelGBJadventure!  Each national park had such unique beauty.  Photos can't do justice for the magnitude, brilliance and complexity of the landscapes.  Here are a few photos and memories from each of the parks we explored.

Glacier National Park (Montana):  

  • Taking a dip in Lake McDonald after a hot day of hiking
  • A full day of rain meant: 1) morning breakfast at Eddies while strategizing how to effectively pack up camp to keep our gear dry, and 2) hanging out indoors at Lake McDonald Lodge
  • Going to the Sun road - epic beauty (when the clouds stay away!) 
  • Exploring Many Glacier: lunch at the lodge, hiking to Iceberg Lake and seeing a moose! 
  • Hiking the Highline Trail (we attempted 3x due to weather... and finally on our last day were able to make the 13 mile trek along the ridge line).  This hike included a gorgeous view of Grinnell Glacier, a close encounter with a mama grizzly and her cub, and so many beautiful flowers
  • Campfires (and s'mores) in the evenings

Banff National Park (Alberta, Canada):

  • That first shower after a week of camping... heaven!
  • Ski-lift ride up Mt. Norquay + lunch with a spectacular view
  • Hiking to the two tea houses around Lake Louise: Lake Agnes + Plain of Six Glaciers
  • Camping at a site with a bear proof electric fence (i.e they had had six grizzlies around the perimeter the day we checked in) 
  • Sunrise view of Lake Louise from our room (thanks for the upgrade Fairmont!) 
  • Canoeing on Lake Louise: the baby blue water is unreal!

Jasper National Park (Alberta, Canada):

  • Driving the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to Jasper.  We spent 5 hours taking in the breathtaking sites along the drive, but definitely could have taken more time! 
  • Dinner at a local brewery
  • The Miette Hot Springs after a long day of driving 
  • Celebrating our 3rd anniversary: relaxing by the pool, time at the spa and date night dinner with a view!

Arizona Family Vacation.

Last week we traveled to Arizona for a family vacation, including Kyle's parents (Barry and Beth) and my parents (Mark and Ann).  Kyle and I grew up in different states and our folks met for the first time at our wedding (almost 3 years ago - how has time gone by so fast?!) so we wanted to carve out some time and space for everyone to get to know each other better.  

Our trip was mostly based in Prescott, AZ (at my parents' cabin) with day trips mixed in throughout the week.  We also had a side project (reupholstering some of our teak furniture) to keep us busy.  Here are some photos of the trip:

We celebrated Mother's Day by grilling, chatting, and playing Sequence. 

We took a day trip to see Montezuma's Castle and the ghost town of Jerome. 

We reupholstered our teak dining chairs. 

We enjoyed the red rock beauty of Sedona with a hike at Oak Creek Canyon and views from the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

We finished the trip with spectacular vistas at the Grand Canyon.

I am so grateful that we were able to spend this past week with our family.  We created memories and added new depths to our relationships.  

Italy.

In early October we set off on an Italian adventure!  We spent two weeks exploring, indulging and soaking in the culture of Italy.  It was an unforgettable trip.  Here are some photos and a few highlights from each of the places that we visited.  

Venice.

Highlights: 

  • Wandering the back streets and the maze of canals.
  • The Peggy Guggenheim Collection - a modern art museum along the Grand Canal. 
  • Gelato.

Cinque Terre. 

Highlights:

  • Trekking along the coastline.  
  • A sunset boat ride to see all five cities from the sea.
  • Delicious local pesto. 

Florence. 

Highlights: 

  • Climbing the Campanile for a view of the Duomo.
  • Seeing Michelangelo's David at the Academia.
  • The best pasta dinner at Gusta Osteria. 

Tuscany.  

Highlights:

  • Winding roads, rolling vineyards and medieval hill towns.
  • Bike riding on the ramparts of Lucca.
  • Delicious wine in Chianti and Montalcino. 
  • Caffé and croissants. 

Rome.  

Highlights: 

  • Such rich history (Colosseum, Pantheon, Roman Forum, Vatican).
  • Exploring Trastevere. 
  • Cured meats and cheese (multiple servings per day).