Extended Family Photo Shoot

Rewind a month to the height of the holidays and enjoy some photos of our extended family enjoying each other’s time together, just before Christmas…… A huge thanks to our family photographer, Kim Hildebrand, for beautifully capturing a few special moments between Ben, Nico and their grandparents, as well as Nico and his parents. Oh, and please excuse Ben’s frowny face. He was awaken just before Kim arrived and thrown into a photo shoot. And he is his father’s son, after all.

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Ben is 19 Months Old!

Well, actually he’s already 19 1/2 months old… I’m a little late but I really wanted to document the milestone! I wish we could freeze this time with him. It is just so so fun. I say that every month, but he is getting sweeter and sweeter by the day and we just adore this little boy so much. I can’t bear to imagine him growing up and not being such a mama’s boy anymore.

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Ben’s stats:

  • Weight: 22 pounds 11 ounces {~ 7th percentile}
  • Height: won’t get an official height until he turns TWO but we think he went through a growth spurt recently
  • Number of teeth: 9 + 1/3 of his bottom front tooth is poking through FINALLY! {he has the top four, bottom two and three molars – so funny!}
  • Clothing size: 18-24 months in most brands on top + jammies! Still 12-18m in pants. I finally put away almost all of the 12-18 month stuff – he got too tall!
  • Shoe size: big kid has broken out and is now in tot size 5 and {sad mama tear} size 2T-4T socks!
  • Favorite foods: apple sauce, mac & cheese, cheese, crackers, sausage, egg nog
  • Favorite activities: climbing, getting into mischief, flushing the toilet, closing doors, turning on/off lights, taking his shirt off, climbing into his chair and reading a book, going down the slide, reading, watching whatever mom/dad are doing, chasing the cat, dancing, greeting people.

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The day-to-day differences have stopped being as significant as they were for probably the first 15 or so months. Now, it’s so fun watching him build on his skills. He practices things, like pronouncing words correctly, the proper way to use a fork, also the improper way to use a fork {drumstick or javelin}, the best way to climb up the ladder on his slide, how to take off his shirt, etc.

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Ben is a full-blown toddler these days. He’s becoming more independent all the time and he is so so curious. He wants to be involved and included in everything. Completely on his own he started helping Alex empty the dishwasher one morning – he walked over, grabbed a piece of silverware, handed it to Alex and repeated until he had emptied the whole silverware rack. He’s becoming an expert at loading the washing machine, too. Sometimes {this is still rare} he will help pick up his toys – we’re really working on that one! Another big one: he wants to WALK up and down the stairs!!!

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I have been having so much fun baking with Ben. He loves to stir and be involved however he can. Sometimes when I’m cooking dinner Alex will stand next to me, holding Ben, so he can watch. He’ll say “see” and point when he wants to be involved. It’s adorable and chaotic and messy, but it’s just the best. These memories….
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I’ve been saying for months how sweet Ben is becoming and he keeps getting sweeter and sweeter! He’s turned into quite the hugger and he’s actually a great hugger. He hugs nice big, tight, long hugs and it is precious! I can’t get enough of his hugs. He’s started kissing too – very, very rarely though.

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Ben is talking up a storm. It is so fun. He’s started stringing together two-word sentences. On a rare occasion he’ll say “please” or “thank you” without being asked! We’re estimating his vocabulary has exceeded 100 words at this point, so I’m done guessing how many words he knows. He’s repeating more and more parts of a sentence that we say – he used to pick out one word to repeat and now he’s trying to repeat the whole thing or a bigger chunk of it. We’ve started to work on colors and numbers – SO FUN!

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I think Ben made it 2.5 months without getting sick – that’s a huge deal to us, especially during the fall portion of cold/flu season. He went until the very end of December being healthy! Then he got the stomach flu, had a day where he was back to normal and eating again and then got a horrible cough, which he’s still getting over. He’s eating now, though, so that means he’s feeling better.

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One of my favorite memories from recently was taking Ben to run errands with me. Such a mundane, everyday task, but we had a blast. He is so fun to be out and about with. We started at Starbucks so mama could get some coffee and a breakfast sandwich, because why not? I got him a little chocolate milk, which he had never had before, and he loved it! Obviously. We were talking the whole time and he helped me pick out things at Target, then at Costco he helped push the cart through the entire store, we sampled all of the things and then shared a smoothie {PSA – the smoothies at Costco’s food court have my stamp of approval!} and he helped me load everything into the car. It was a really special day.

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We’ve started cross country skiing now that there’s enough snow in the mountains. Ben has his little chariot that he rides in and seems to really enjoy it! He’s gotten into “downhill” skiing too. I can’t WAIT to actually see him learn how to ski.

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Well, here’s to another great two and a half weeks before we’ve got a 20-month old tot! 🙂

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Transitions

These last few weeks have been filled with transitions for our little family. It’s been a very busy time filled with “hellos” and “goodbyes” and lots of fun in between. Just before Christmas we said “see you later” to our beloved nanny, Edina, who moved across the country to the Big Apple.

{Edina became well-known in our group of friends and quickly got to know all of Ben's buddies in town.}

{Edina became well-known in our group of friends and quickly got to know all of Ben’s buddies in town.}

Edina had been Ben’s nanny since he was about 12 weeks old and was essentially his third parent. We were all devastated when she left. The same day that Edina moved, Alex’s family arrived for Christmas. That proved to be a very welcome distraction for us all! Since then, it’s been great to be able to keep in touch and we’ve loved FaceTime so that we can all still talk with Edina. We are all still adjusting to life after Edina.

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The holidays were filled with wonderful memories from Alex’s family’s trip, then my dad’s visit around New Years, a round of the stomach flu for Ben {ughhhhhh} and some time in the mountains. We had such a nice time with our family, though it was hard to say goodbye when their trips came to an end. More transitions!

{Sorry dad, I know you were not happy I took a picture with Ben using the iPad with you, but I think it's adorable!}

{Sorry dad, I know you were not happy I took a picture with Ben using the iPad with you, but I think it’s adorable!}

After everyone said their goodbyes we welcomed a babysitter to our house for our “in between” week. She had watched Ben before, so she was a familiar face, but another transition nonetheless.

{My dad with my cousin, Chris, and his son, Henry, who is 2 1/2.}

{My dad with my cousin, Chris, and his son, Henry, who is 2 1/2.}

Finally, at the end of last week we were preparing for the arrival of our new au pair, Gelys {it’s pronounced like “yell-ous”}, who was coming to live with us for at least a year from Panama.

Maybe you heard about the big snow storm on the east coast last week – well, the timing of Gelys’s arrival perfectly coincided with the mess out there. Gelys had to fly into New York for an au pair training through the agency. The problem was that she couldn’t get there! Her arrival was delayed, and then the day she was scheduled to leave New York, JFK flooded and her flight was delayed significantly. She was supposed to arrive in Seattle on Saturday but didn’t make it until 3 a.m. on Monday!

This week has been very, very hectic, exhausting and filled with new experiences for all of us as Gelys is learning about our family, about Ben, practicing English and figuring out how we do things both in our house but also in America, not to mention getting her bearings and learning what in the world there is to do with Ben around town {and how to get around town!}.

The challenges have been significant. Ben was/still is sick {he had a horrible cough and was a disaster for the first three days}, and Alex and I had to balance working and bringing Gelys up to speed at the same time, Ben is in a suuuper mama’s boy phase right now and it’s just plain difficult training a new caregiver.

There have been several logistical details we’ve been navigating, too. We are still working through our to do list – a new SIM card was in order so that her phone worked, as was a rain coat {!}, we’re working to add her to our car insurance, get her a bank account and social security number and make sure she has all of the personal items and clothing that she needs to be comfortable. We’re planning a little “touristy” Saturday to show her some of the hot spots in Seattle and practice taking the bus.

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Finally, on Thursday, Gelys had her first official day with Ben {Alex or I was with her all the time for her first three days, per the guidelines of the agency} and it went really well! They navigated the bus, went to Ben’s new music class, which he apparently loved, and had a fun time playing together. She’s doing great with him – he warmed up to her right away and she’s super sweet with him and is trying very, very hard. I love hearing her speak in Spanish with Ben {and Alex has been loving the practice, too!}. Whew!

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We chose to fill our childcare needs with an au pair because we loved the idea of learning about another culture and having Ben exposed not only to culture, but to a native Spanish-speaker from such an early age. We loved having Edina live with us and that made it very exciting to us to have an au pair.

Christmas 2017

Christmas this year was spent at our little home alongside Alex’s family. They all made the trek out to Seattle a few days before Christmas to celebrate the holiday, as well as Nico, our nephew’s, first birthday. We had a wonderful holiday season and were so glad to have had the company.

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The start of their trip was marked with some illnesses, which thankfully Alberto and Nico made a quick recovery from just in time to celebrate Nico’s birthday. We rearranged our plans a bit and spent our first full day together out in the mountains. We visited our lot and got to see it covered in snow, then we ended the very chilly day at Stevens Pass where Alex and Stan took a few runs.

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Santa came early to our house and brought Ben a pair of his very own skis! Alex and I couldn’t resist strapping them on his little Sorels and letting him test them out. We’re convinced he loved it because after we stopped moving he said “more” – a surefire sign he’s going to be a skier.

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Christmas Eve was extra special this year because we were celebrating Nico’s first birthday! As a bonus, the snow gods were on our sides again and we got a very unexpected surprise that afternoon – snow! It snowed and snowed, all through the night and we had ourselves a white Christmas.

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The theme of Nico’s birthday was “Llama Llama Red Pajama” after a very popular kids book that Nico loves. Donna found us all matching “fa la llama” shirts to wear to celebrate and we enjoyed a fun dinner of fondue and some really delicious birthday cake from Madison Park Bakery near our house.

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We awoke on Christmas morning to the beautiful sight of snow. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a white Christmas in Seattle. It was perfect. We had so much fun making new memories and enjoying watching Ben on Christmas morning. He was very excited to get a brand new slide, along with several other gifts. Alex and I used Christmas to get him some updated age-appropriate toys – we really hadn’t gotten him much since his first birthday and he has outgrown most of his other toys by now.

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Christmas Day was very low-key and relaxing. We had a fire, enjoyed cinnamon and orange rolls, the eggnog lovers sipped their eggnog, we played outside in the snow and had a prime rib dinner to finish out the day.

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Bright and early the next day, Alex, Alina, Alberto and I headed to Stevens Pass to get in some skiing while Ben and Nico stayed behind with their grandparents. It was a very chilly day on the mountain but we had a great time getting in some turns. It was too cold to take more photos…

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The boys seemed to have a great time with their grandparents and went on a fun outing to the playground. I can only imagine Donna and Stan are still exhausted from their big day with two toddlers!

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Our time together came to a quick end the following morning when everyone packed up and said their goodbyes. We are so grateful that our family came out to spend the holiday with us and that we had such a lovely time. Most wonderfully, though, was seeing how much Ben adored spending time with each of his family members. He is still talking about everyone a week later.

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2017 Recap… A Year in Review

About this time every year I am so glad that I take the time to keep our blog up-to-date with what’s going on in our little lives. It’s so fun to look back on what’s happened during the past year and put together a recap. 2017 has been a very special, joyful year for our family. It’s hard to believe that we started 2017 with an immobile baby and we’re ending the year with a walking, talking toddler! They say for parents of young kids that the days are long but the years are short. So far that holds true!

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We began the year by taking up a new hobby: cross country skiing. It fulfilled our love of being in the mountains and we could easily bring Ben along for the ride. The winter was filled with far less downhill skiing as Alex and I had hoped, but we made do with what we could. Ben took his first trip to the playground in our neighborhood and fell in love with the swings!

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Just after the turn of the new year, Ben learned how to sit up on his own. This, combined with beginning to eat solid foods, gave him a new lease on life. Now that he was a bit older, our nanny, Edina, became more able to take him to story time and other local kid-friendly attractions.

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Winter was met with a bit of travel – our first trip was to Arizona in conjunction with Alex’s family, including our new nephew, Nico!

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Somewhere along the line right around the time Ben began to crawl {8 months}, things got crazy. He started getting goofier, learned to pull himself up on things quite quickly and not taking our eyes off him for a second became the theme of the late winter/early spring.

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Our first-ever family trip was to Whistler last March. We cross country skied one day, spent some time in the village another day and Alex and I hired a babysitter to enjoy a day on the mountain another day. Our trip came to an abrupt end on the fifth morning when Ben woke up with a 105 temperature, only for us to quickly realize that he had contracted hand, foot and mouth disease. He was absolutely miserable for a solid week. It was rough. That was the middle of cold season, of which he had something like 9.

{Our family trip to Whistler!}

{Our family trip to Whistler!}

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Travel continued through the spring with a Ben and mama trip to Minnesota. It was really special to introduce Ben to his great aunt, my high school friends and their babies, meet little Madeline and spend time with other family and friends.

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{Meeting Madeline and having Ben meet Sarah was a real highlight this year!}

Before we knew it, it was time to celebrate Ben’s first birthday! We invited our families out to Leavenworth to mark the occasion.

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With summer in full-swing, Ben and I walked down to our neighborhood farmers market nearly every Friday. We sampled berries, picked beautiful flowers, bumped into neighbors and made quite a few memories.

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Edina quickly became a part of our family and she and Ben sported their matching t-shirts one day!

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Early last summer, Alex and I took a trip just the two of us down to San Francisco and Sonoma to enjoy a long weekend together. We loved touring SF, stopping by Yountville and enjoying lunch at Bouchon, tasting Napa and Sonoma wines, staying in a beautiful hotel in Sonoma and just spending time together. We didn’t expect to miss Ben so much, but next time maybe we’ll bring him along.

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To commemorate Ben’s first birthday we did a family photo shoot in our neighborhood. Ben loves ice cream so we thought it would be fun to include a little tasting.

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Seattle’s summer 2017 was long and beautiful. Our family enjoyed many trips to the beach, a quick trip up to Vancouver, touring the parks across the city, our summer family vacation to Seabrook and watching Ben learn how to walk. In late summer we celebrated the purchase of a 3 acre piece of land out in the mountains to build a vacation home on.

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Travel and busy times continued as summer turned to fall. While Alex headed south to Mexico for a friend’s wedding, Ben and I flew east to Minnesota to spend time with my family. Eventually Alex met up with us and the three of us drove to Wisconsin to see his family, then Alex and I went to Chicago for the weekend for another wedding. We loved seeing our family so much this year and getting the chance for Ben and Nico to play together.

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Fall seemed to last forever! We kicked off the new season by sending Ben to a twice-weekly cooperative preschool, which has been wonderful so far. The rest of the season was spent enjoying the local playgrounds, exploring our wonderful tot gyms at the community centers nearby and with our annual Leavenworth trip.

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Just as the snow started to fly we took a little day trip out to Leavenworth to see our property, sample sausages and play in the snow at Stevens Pass.

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Just like that and the holidays were upon us. My mom joined us in Seattle for Thanksgiving, then Alex’s family came out for Nico’s birthday and Christmas, followed by my dad’s trip out for a few days between Christmas and New Years. Alex and I managed to get some skiing in and we hosted our fourth annual holiday party.

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As 2017 has now come to a close we are looking forward to a new year that I have a feeling will be filled with firsts. Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!

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Holiday Baking!

I consider myself to be more a chef than a baker at any point during the year. Recipes are not really my friend and I don’t normally have the patience for baking. The exception is during the holidays! I’m known to bake anywhere from 10-20 dozen cookies during the holiday season and this year is no different. I lost track where I’m at right now, but I think somewhere around 15 dozen.

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We’ve delivered cookies to our neighbors, enjoyed some treats to ourselves and shared them with friends from work and at our holiday party. Now all that’s left is baking at least one more batch of something to share with family for Christmas and then bring some to the NICU and Antepartum {where I stayed during the end of my pregnancy} on Christmas Eve, a tradition we started last year.

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Ben and Edina had fun decorating delicious sugar cookies last week. Thanks for the pictures, Edina!

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I tweaked the sugar cookie recipe that I had used in the past and turned it into my own recipe this year and combined that with a different frosting recipe. Two thumbs up!

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Additionally, we made linzer cookies, peanut butter blossoms, and new this year, Irish shortbread toffee bars. Normally I make peppermint bark but I got such a great deal on buying it from Williams Sonoma that I saved myself a little time and purchased it. It’s really hard to pick a favorite, and not to toot my own horn but they’re all really, really good this year.

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Ben has become quite the helper in the kitchen and loves to watch me cook or bake. We’ve got a step stool that is perfect for him to pull up to the counter and lend a hand once in a while. He gets so excited to be included!

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Fourth Annual Holiday Party

Hosting our holiday party has become quite a fun tradition we look forward to every year. We’ve learned a lot over the last few years and definitely had it dialed in this year. We tried a few new foods and continued our same laid-back approach to the soiree and it was wonderful.

{not our best family photo, but the best of the bunch!}

{not our best family photo, but the best of the bunch!}

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{this year's spread included: a beautiful and bountiful cheese board; crudite platter; chicken skewers; caramelized onion, mushroom and gruyere puffs; brie and apple puffs; Christmas pinwheels;  dips from our local Greek restaurant, paired with their pita; and a big plate of cookies.}

{This year’s spread included: a beautiful and bountiful cheese board; crudite platter; chicken skewers; caramelized onion, mushroom and gruyere puffs; brie and apple puffs; Christmas pinwheels; dips from our local Greek restaurant, paired with their pita; and a big plate of cookies.}

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{Having fun with the "portrait" mode on our new phone!}

{Having fun with the “portrait” mode on our new phone!}

{The chef!}

{The chef!}

{This year's signature drink was Bee Keeper Punch.}

{This year’s signature drink was Bee Keeper Punch.}

{Plenty of bubbly and sparkling rose to go around.}

{Plenty of bubbly and sparkling rose to go around.}

{The Millers arrived a little early to help taste-test :) }

{The Millers arrived a little early to help taste-test 🙂 }

I had so much fun looking back on the last three parties – my oh my how life has changed. We have a really great time putting together these parties and are so grateful to have so many friends in Seattle to enjoy the holidays with.

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New Craftsman Cabinets

We’ve known for months {read: a year} that our dining room’s open shelving, housing our wine, liquor, serving dishes and wine glasses, would need some childproofing. Parenting, life and whatnot got in the way and it took us a while to get on top of hiring a carpenter to build us some doors to close in the cabinets. I’m happy to report that they’re officially childproofed!

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We hired John of Evans Renovation to design and build some cabinet doors. He was wonderful to work with and we couldn’t be happier with our new doors. It’s such a little thing but it makes a significant difference in appearance, and most importantly, safety.

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Now that the project is complete we’re thrilled with how it looks. The doors look like they’re original to our 1909 house – it’s like they’ve been here all along! John picked out some beautiful skeleton keys to lock the cabinets and keep true with the style of our little craftsman. We absolutely love this new addition to our dining room!

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Ben is 18 Months Old!

Our baby really isn’t a baby anymore. He’s a year and a half old!!! Lately he has been acting more and more like a toddler and frankly, a little boy. This last month’s theme is, without a doubt, communication. Ben’s vocabulary and comprehension is soaring in the most exciting way. He is such a little sponge and a parrot {realized we have to start being mindful of what we say!} and he has begun to really follow simple directions quite well.

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Ben just had his 18-month check-up and here are his stats:

  • Weight: 22 pounds 6 ounces (10th percentile – still a peanut!)
  • Height: 32 inches (50th percentile!)
  • Clothing size: he’s still in 12-18 months but he’s about to break into 18-24 in tops, definitely not bottoms {of course this is brand dependent}
  • Number of teeth: 7…. two molars are just starting to poke through though now, finally, so soon we’ll be at 9+
  • Favorite foods: sausage, broccoli{!}, applesauce, cottage cheese
  • New foods: artichokes!, finally likes brussels sprouts!
  • Favorite activities: pointing out airplanes, running, climbing, shaking his finger saying “uh uh uh”, dancing, making people laugh, playing peek-a-boo, reading stories

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At the time Ben turned 17 months he was just coming off of a little rough patch health-wise. He had lost quite a bit of weight and was not sleeping well. I’m so, so, so pleased to report that is a thing of the past. After a couple days of drinking protein shakes and eating a ton Ben’s weight started to bounce back. We introduced probiotics and vitamin d drops as a way to help improve his gut and immune system and it sure seems to be working. AND by some miracle he went the entire rest of the month without getting sick!

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One helpful thing we did to work on getting Ben’s sleep back on track was purchase a tot clock {AKA “ok to wake” clock}. We opted for the fancy Hatch Baby Rest “clock” which is more of a night light/sound machine. It is so cool and Ben picked up on it right away. How it works is that at 6:45 p.m. the orange sleep light comes on and it starts playing soothing lullabies. That’s our cue that it’s time for Ben to get into his sleep sack and have some cuddles, bedtime stories and milk. At 7:00 p.m. the lullabies change to white noise {our house is so loud we use white noise to drown out the creaky floor and noisy pets} and it’s time for bed.

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At 6:20 a.m. the light turns green and the white noise/green light stay on. The green light signals it’s okay to be awake. Really, I can’t believe how quickly he picked up on this. One night I was so exhausted from getting up with Ben and Alex having been sick all week that I just didn’t get out of Bed when Ben woke up in the middle of the night. Or was it 4 a.m. like he had been doing for weeks? I was so tired I can’t remember. He whined a bit and then put himself back to bed a short while bit later. We didn’t go in the next morning until the green light went on and I kid you not, that’s all he needed. From that night on, we haven’t gone in there and he hasn’t needed us in the middle of the night. Some mornings he’ll wake up too early and talk to himself or put himself back to sleep until the light turns green. Other mornings he won’t wake up until after the light turns green and then he lets us know it’s time to get up. Also, Ben started sleeping with a pillow!!

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Now that we’re all caught up on sleep, everything is wonderful. Ben’s vocabulary is growing by several words a day. Some new words he learned this last month are: Santa, Sarah, tree, artichoke {a new favorite food of his!}, fire and trash. We’re estimating his vocabulary is about 60 words right now {that’s only words he knows in context and can identify solely on his own – he’ll repeat pretty much anything you ask him to at this point}. We’re really working on names of people.

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About a month ago we had a revelation that we’d been holding Ben back from eating with utensils. It’s so so so much easier to spoon feed him when he’s eating something like applesauce, cottage cheese or oatmeal, so that’s what we did. After seeing a friend a month younger than Ben completely master using her spoon to eat mac & cheese we realized we needed to give Ben that freedom. Turns out, he was ready! Now if only he could quickly figure out how to drink from an open cup! 🙂

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It’s so neat to see Ben’s comprehension solidify in new ways. We’ve found that he’s able to follow so many simple instructions – “Ben, go sit on the mat and drink your milk” or when I was in the kitchen one day I said “Ben, go put your jammies in the laundry please” and I was shocked that he did. And he even takes the time to make sure they’re totally in the laundry and not hanging over the side. Type A like his mama!?

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As a baby, Ben was not into cuddling. Thank goodness he is now! He is really in a cuddle phase and loves to be picked up and snuggled. I had a really sweet moment one afternoon when I got to cuddle in my bed with him and take a little snooze together.

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Something I’ll never forget about this time in his life is how he repeats, over and over and over, the name of his nanny. He truly says her name around 100-150 times a day. “Edina!” “Edina!” “Edina, Edina, Edina!” It is so sweet how much he adores her. And I know the feeling is mutual!

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In addition to Ben’s vocabulary, another theme this month has been climbing. Holy climbing. Ben is currently trying to climb anything and everything. He just grew a smidge and it was enough to give him the height he needs to climb into a chair. That’s going to be interesting! In a very short period of time he figured out how to safely climb down the stairs or get off of something high up, like our bed. It seemed like overnight I stopped worrying about him going down the stairs.

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One thing I find so impressive about Ben is that he practices things so intentionally. I’m not sure if this is something all kids do, and either way, it is so impressive that when he’s learning a new skill he wants to do it over and over and over to build mastery. He’s been doing this a lot on random staircases or at the park. I can sit back at the playground and he’ll climb up the little tot steps and go down the slide safely all by himself. I’m really not sure when he became such a big kid.

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Ben continues to be quite the entertainer! He is definitely a Rossdeutcher {Alex’s mom’s side} and loves to be the center of attention. He loves making people smile and laugh and wants to be sure people know he’s there. He’s the master of blowing kisses, he loves dancing – especially to Outkast and Notorious BIG {seriously} or really anything if you tell him to dance. He has started repeating names of people and will say “hello” and “ta ta” and can say “ho ho ho” when you ask him what Santa says.

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Ben is such a happy little boy. He laughs a lot, smiles and plays peek-a-boo any chance he gets. There are days when he’s a little whiny and he is getting more advanced and dramatic at throwing tantrums, but overall, he’s a really easy-going, loving, sweet boy.

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Here we are – on to the next month and the next milestones. Our little Benjamin continues to amaze us and we are so grateful to be his parents.

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Early December

This holiday season is shaping up to be quite a memorable one! Ben is at such a fun age to where he’s starting to understand so much that I think he’ll really get into things this year. We have a lot of holiday and seasonal activities planned – I can hardly wait to experience this holiday season with our family.

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Earlier this fall I bought a beautiful advent calendar. I received it in the mail and was floored at how gigantic it is. The advent calendars I grew up with were the cardboard kind where you open the window each day of advent and that was that. This new calendar had pockets for every day. I was completely thrown off by how to use this calendar and ended up deciding to fill each pocket with a holiday/seasonal activity for that day.

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It’s kind of nice because it forced me to sit down with my calendar and idea list and plot what I wanted to do when and really plan out the month of December. I came up with some really fun ideas and realized that there’s a lot we wanted to do and not that much time so it also brought me back to reality.

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One of our first advent activities was cutting down our Christmas tree, followed by decorating it the next day. We went to Trinity Tree Farm in Issaquah to cut down our tree this year. Last year we purchased a pre-cut tree from them. Last year’s tree was the most beautiful tree either one of us had ever had and this year’s blows last year’s out of the water. Our tree this year is stunning!

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We picked a very typical Pacific Northwest day to go get our tree. It was POURING. Thankfully we all had our rain boots and positive attitudes. Ben loved jumping in the puddles – right now he’s obsessed with water in all forms and couldn’t get over the act of puddle jumping.

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Alex was a true family hero when he tackled the acts of cutting down the tree and tying the tree on the car himself. It was a multi-person job managing Ben and it required both Edina and me to corral him and keep him from diving into a puddle headfirst. I saw photos of a friend of mine who has three kids under 5 and she and her husband brought their kids and their dog to cut down the tree {mind you, they didn’t also have an extra set of hands there like we did!} and they seemed to have managed just fine. I have no idea how.

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Decorating the Christmas tree was adorable. Ben really seemed to get the concept. While he didn’t really successfully hang any ornaments, he placed them on branches or he pointed out where he thought a good place for a pretty ornament would be. His favorite part, though, was climbing the step stool and being a little entertainer.

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I feel like we’re in pretty good shape for the holidays at this point. There’s a lot we need to do to prepare for the rest of the season and it is all so much fun!! This is by far our favorite time of year. We get so much joy in entertaining and spending time with family and friends, especially during the magical holiday season.

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