5 things we're loving about fort lewis so far

Happy final Friday of June, friends! I seriously can't believe we're just days away from July. Weren't we all seriously just praying for spring? I know I was. But here we are...the final Friday of June. It feels like ages ago that we lived in New York, and we're finally starting to feel like Washington is our new normal. Even though we're only renting this house for a year, we're putting our little touches on it, and we're making it as homey as possible for that year. Beyond that though, we're diving into our new state wholeheartedly! Here are five things we're absolutely loving about Fort Lewis so far.

1 // Our boys' new school.
You guys. We seriously lucked out with this one. We started the boys somewhere else last week, but neither of us felt so good about it, so we pulled them halfway through the week and were lucky enough to snag two spots at an amazing preschool just minutes from our home. They're loving it. It's educational, they're learning Spanish, they're flexing their little brains every day, and they're making friends. It makes my heart so happy seeing them come alive in their element! OH - and they have an app and send us pictures throughout the day...like this gem:

2 // So many outdoor activities.
You might remember I talked about Point Ruston and how the boys got to "drive" fire trucks there last weekend. Seriously, that's just one of so many ways that people get outside here and actually do things. My boys are having a blast. They're biking at school, they're playing on the little playground in the backyard, they're getting dirty - just like little boys should! Next up, we're getting state park pass so we can hike and explore even more.

3 // S.L.A.M. Tacoma.
Okay, so I owe this entirely to Jen from Marathons & Dog Tags. I've been watching her Stroller Strong Moms journey for a while now, and I've been envious that there aren't any affiliates where I've lived. But guess what?! Tacoma's chapter opened this week, and I got my very first take on a track attack workout. Oh. My. Lord. Guys, I'm still sore. Even better? These ladies are welcoming, fierce, and so friendly. I can't wait to get started! 

4 // All the good foods.
But seriously. We were kind of limited in our foodie options at Fort Drum. Don't get me wrong, there were some amazing choices (I'm looking at you, Bombay), but they were limited. There is no shortage of fantastic flavors and restaurants out here, and I'm Yelping my way through the area, one restaurant at a time. Better yet, I jumped back on nutritional rebalancing so I can get whole, balanced nutrition and indulge at dinner. Best decision ever. So far, our favorite is still The Daily Catch. Stay tuned though ;)

5 // Water, water, everywhere.
This makes my swimmer heart happy like no other. There are so many bodies of water around here, and I can't wait to dive in - literally. I'm signing up for my first open water race out here soon, and since the only one I did in New York was at Lake George, it can only get better from here! Fingers crossed we find a fun one for me to do...and soon.

Like everything in the military, PCSing is hard, but a lot of it has to do with your outlook, as well as your willingness to get out and try new things. We're determined to venture out, immerse ourselves in this community, and learn to love our new neck of the woods. And don't worry...I'll obnoxiously share it all the while :)

firetrucks, freedom runs & friends

I can't believe we're beginning our third week here in Washington already - technically, of course - and we're going to really start finding our rhythm now. Ryan reports today and signs in on base. The boys start their brand-new daycare today, too. I'm working, obviously, so we're going to slowly start falling into the pace of life we can expect here. This past weekend though, we spent time savoring our new digs (yet again), and we spent time with good friends...and it was so worth it, even if I only unpacked one box!

Friday evening, we decided on a whim to head up to Point Ruston again since we'd had so much fun the first time. I'm off work at 2 PM these days because I work East coast hours, and since we'd pulled the boys from their last daycare, we headed up there as a family after nap time. We were lucky...the Tacoma Fire Department was doing a fundraiser with a Touch-a-Truck event, and my firefighter-loving little boys had their days made in a heartbeat. What a great way to support a fantastic cause, inspire future little ones, and interact with the community! We all had a blast, and it didn't hurt that the truck was gorgeous!

On Saturday morning, we decided to head over to our local Wear Blue, Run to Remember group that starts just a few miles from our home. Each Sunday, they meet at 9 AM and run a well-mapped 5k through our neighborhood and trail areas. We had a meetup at Fort Drum, too, but it rarely happened due to weather and lack of participation. About 50 people of all ages and skill levels showed up here, and at the halfway point, a handful of elderly veterans handed out bottled water. It was a beautiful day of easy running, socializing with new friends, and honoring our fallen and their families. We'll definitely be doing that again.

We also explored another of the many playgrounds around here, Chief Leschi Park, and our little men were in heaven. This was more their speed. It had plenty of obstacles and slides, but it wasn't too over-the-top for a three and two-year-old. And, it doesn't hurt that the weather and scenery here has truly been perfection lately.

We capped off our Sunday with the best barbecue with friends. The Linenfelsers were stationed at Fort Drum with us, and though Ryan and Mike were in the same unit, we never got together. They have two little boys, as well, six and four, and we decided to have an afternoon of slip-and-slide, sprinklers, cornhole, and good company. I'm so glad we got together! I mentioned how important it is to find your tribe, and this is just the start of it. These are good people. They have their proverbial ish together, and they're helping us get out and explore more.

I'm so grateful for good weekends and great adventures to come. Fort Lewis has surprised me in the best possible way and, thus far, I'm loving it. I can't wait to see what else is in store for us!

I'm linking up today with B Loved Boston for Weekending.

4 tips for staying sane post pcs

I think there's a common misconception that once your move is complete and you've reached your destination that the hard work is done. Honestly, having done more than one PCS before - and now doing one with children - I can say that that's definitely not the case. The move is so much more than just a physical move. It's an emotional displacement, and it's one that I think we've all felt to some degree. I think that, for Ryan at least, this is a homecoming of sorts. For me though, it's a big adjustment, and Spencer's definitely showed signs of struggling, as well.

We actually pulled them from the daycare they started this week for a few reasons. First, it was much farther than we'd anticipated. Second, he was acting out, not sleeping well, and he seemed really bothered by it. We got the boys into a great new place (the one we'd originally hoped for), and they start Monday, so we're excited about that. There's definitely a lot of adjustment going on though, so we're doing our best to stay balanced. For us, it's a balance of work and play. Here are four ways we're working to stay sane post-PCS.

1 // Get out.
It's as easy as that. It doesn't have to be an elaborate excursion. Get away from the boxes and clutter. Breathe. We went for a long family walk on the trail behind our home with Danny, and it was the best. Or, for example, today we did a family trip to Trader Joe's and HomeGoods. Nothing fancy. No frills. Just a breath of something other than unfamiliar walls.

2 // Give yourself some space.
This is a big one - and a hard one for so many military spouses. We pick our homes, then we race to reestablish them in our new duty station. It's not always that simple though. There are quirks. For example, our house had a lot of damage when we moved in that we were unaware of. We're missing doorframes and have huge stains on the carpets. I was furious and upset with myself for renting sight unseen, but then I sat back, took a breath, and remembered it's a 12-month lease. We have incredible neighbors, and we have no timeline set that's holding us to having everything set in a set amount of time. Give yourself some space to breathe, move, and feel.

3 // Find the good.
A PCS is always a mixed bag of emotions. There's excitement about the prospect of something new, but there's fear of the unknown, too. For us, as much as we were ready to leave Fort Drum, leaving our home was an entirely different story. Our neighbors were family, and our home was our home. We brought two babies there. We adopted a dog. We made so many memories, and it's easy to get hung up on those changes. However, we're making new memories, too, and it's so important to focus on that. Find the good in your new duty station. Where are the positives? We've found so many new places to eat, share company, and meet new people. For example, we went to FOB Brewery for Father's Day, and it was such a great experience for Ryan - and it was family-friendly!

4 // Find your tribe.
I can't express this one enough. I'm a loner by nature. I'm comfortable with silence and being alone. However, in military life and, I'd hazard a guess, life in general, you need your people. You need your tribe. When Ryan deployed, I relied on friends and neighbors like never before. Those people, your tribe, will pick you up when you think you can't go on. Those people make all difference. We've met most of our neighbors now, and they're absolutely wonderful. We're so blessed. We also have a family who was in Ryan's prior unit at Fort Drum stationed here, as well, so that's been a comfort. It's the little things. Trust me. My goal is to find a running or workout group here in the next few weeks. Till then, Danny will be my workout gal :)

I still have mixed feelings about Fort Lewis as a whole. It's so big, and that's scary. But I'm excited, too. I love a good adventure, and this is definitely the best kind.

What sort of moving tips or PCS tips do you have that have helped you?

hiking sequalitchew creek trail

One of our biggest hopes and intentions with our move to Washington was to get outside more. We found that, living in northern New York, people had to hibernate eight months out of the year, and that didn't lend well to being really active outdoors. However, here, it seems like people are outside all. the. time...even when it's raining. We've obviously been super lucky to have great weather since we arrived here, but people are always exploring, and we decided to follow suit.

On Saturday, we'd planned to take the boys to the water since we live about a mile from the sound. On a whim, we stopped at Sequalitchew Creek Trail here in Dupont, a mere five minutes from our house (if that). We hadn't planned to hike, but we got to the trailhead, and it was only a mile and a half, so we decided to go for it. 

The hike down is a slight grade downhill, and Spencer decided it was the perfect day to run. He ran a whole mile downhill, and Porter jogged a good half mile, too, so we were pretty impressed with our little men. Because of little legs and lots of stops to look at the vegetation and stomp in puddles, it took us about 35 minutes to get down to the water, but it was well worth it - and such an easy hike. Then, when you reach the bottom, you walk through an abandoned and heavily-graffitied train tunnel, which my boys absolutely loved.

Then, you come to the rocky shore, which leads directly to the sound. The boys were in love. The rocks were filled with teeny little crabs between the rocks, which were so fun to see scuttle around, and the seaweed heavily covered the water like a blanket, but we all took the time to dip our toes in. Dang, it's chilly! Nevertheless, it was a blast, and we enjoyed it for a while before we headed back up.

The boys were definitely more tired on the way back up, and we learned our lesson for next time. We'll be sure to have the chariot (just in case), sneakers, water, and some snacks so we can stay a while.  However, if you're in the JBLM or Dupont area, definitely give this little hike a go! Here's what you need to know:

Trail Length: 1.5 miles both ways
Level of Difficulty: Easy - there is a rocky trail section though
Cost: Free
Parking: Free lot at the trail head
Tips: Bring water, sneakers & snacks for at the bottom

The best part of this hike is that you really don't need to prep for it - case in point, we did it spontaneously. It's just a short drive from our house, and we could walk if really wanted to, but this was the perfect first outdoor adventure here in Washington.

Do you have any hiking tips for little guys? What's your favorite place to explore in your area?

our first weekend in washington

And just like that, our first weekend in Washington has come and gone. Crazy! We've been here almost a week now and we're slowly but surely getting acquainted with our new digs, living on the West coast, the time difference on the East coast, and all the new things to discover. For me, the hardest part right now is adjusting to the time difference between my work in Boston and living in Washington. I start working at 5:30(ish) now, and I'm done at 2, which means that workouts, etc., are all after my workday. It's insane, but I'm learning...slowly.

This past weekend was a breath of fresh air - literally. We decided when we got here that we wanted to make sure we had a healthy balance. We obviously have to set up a house, but it's important to us to balance fun with our laundry list of to-do items around here. So, on Friday, we celebrated my momma before she headed back to New Hampshire, and we decided to head up to Ruston, WA. We bypassed the i-5 traffic, which is hellacious, and we drove the 30-40 minute backroad trip to our waterfront destination.

Point Ruston has it all! We treated my mom to fresh fish and chips at The Daily Catch (pro-tip - you have to go here if you want a budget-friendly indulgence for the whole fam!), and then the boys played like little fiends on the playground by the water. We sat waterfront on the steps, kicked ourselves for not knowing that there's a splash pad for kids there (!!!) and, once the boys got their crazies out, we headed over to Ice Cream Social for some fresh and local treats. It was a delicious night out, and I'm so glad we got to take my mom.

Saturday and Sunday were a mix of unpacking, setting up, and spontaneous adventures. We went on impromptu hikes to the water (I'll detail that more in another post), set up our TV and my work computer, explored JBLM, which is massive, and stocked up on groceries. Little by little, we're making this place a home, and I know we're going to love it, even if I do miss the East coast a good bit.

Today, the boys start their first day of their new daycare, and this momma is a mixed bag. Their new little school looks so good, and I'm sure they'll love it, but we left a place and teachers we loved more than anything. Prayers for these little boys are so appreciated, though I'm sure they'll rock it!

I'm linking up today with B Loved Boston for Weekending.

hello, fort lewis

Well, it's been a minute, friends! We're officially in Washington as of two and a half days ago. We arrived in the early evening on Tuesday, and we've been somewhat scrambling to set things up and start life here ever since. We're so grateful because my mother has been with us since we left Fort Drum, and we truly couldn't have done this trip without her. When I say it's been a journey, I mean that both literally and figuratively.

We left Fort Drum and Black River early Saturday morning, and the next six days saw us traversing New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and, finally, Washington. We had some great days of driving, and we had some that we struggled...like, ummm 2 hours of stand-still traffic in Chicago? No thanks. But we did it, and we saw regions of the country I never knew existed every step of the way.

The boys were champions (thank God for iPads), and we averaged about 450-500 miles a day - some days more. Porter celebrated his second birthday somewhere along the way, and he deserves a post in the next few days, too!

We drove through rolling hills, steep mountain ranges, vast open plains, whiteout snow (thanks, Montana), scalding hot temps, and so much more. And, surprisingly, I think I left a piece of my heart in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is so gorgeous! We saw Mount Rushmore, we stopped in podunk little towns, and I've never been more excited to see the drizzles of Washington state.

The move-in wasn't without its hiccups, but we're here, and we're oh-so-slowly settling. If you've followed my instagram stories, you've likely seen some of our trip, but I'll be sharing more as we continue to settle down here. Today, we're viewing the boys' new daycare, and my momma (sadly) heads back to New Hampshire tomorrow. Real life is coming, and it's wonderful, scary, beautiful, and daunting. 

Cheers to Washington...we're happy to be here!