A New Chapter

We are at the beginning of a very new, big chapter in our lives. Our mountain house is {basically} done and we’re in the process of moving in. We’re planning on spending as much time out there as possible as we build a new life for our family. Additionally, I recently resigned from my job running a small non-profit and am changing careers – my new job title is: mom.

We’ve been in the process of beginning our mountain life now for more than a year and a half, since we bought our property in July 2017, and we’re over the moon to finally be moving in.

Alex and I have been dreaming about having a second home in the mountains ever since we moved out to Seattle. We have vivid memories from one winter early on in our time in Seattle with our very dear friends, Carrie and Patrick, where we rented a cabin near Crystal Mountain Resort one weekend a month for the whole ski season. We had a taste of cabin living and we were hooked.

Both of us, along with Alex’s parents, who we will share the house with, have worked tirelessly to pull our resources together and make it happen, both from a financial standpoint as well as a design and management position.

I don’t quite know how having The Lodge will change our lives, but I know there will be dramatic implications. We hope to spend most weekends out there and have Alex’s parents join us for extended stays, as well as my parents, the rest of our family and our friends, too. We hope this house will bring our families together more often and we hope to provide an opportunity for our friends across the country to come and see our little piece of paradise and spend time with us.

The timing for me to leave my job came up suddenly; however the time was right for a number of reasons. I think it’s perfect that it coincides with The Lodge being complete.

Our new au pair had started with us in late December and after a month we knew if just was never going to work. I had an extremely difficult transition back to work after my maternity leave with Hannah – our childcare situation was in a constant state of flux and I never felt like I re-entered my job or could give it the focus and dedication the organization deserved.

Finally, I got a crystal clear sign it was time to move on from our au pair. I had really hoped we could make it work with her – while I knew at some point in the future I wanted to stay home with the kids, I wasn’t quite ready to step down from a career I loved so much. We made the decision very quickly and we are very confident it was the right choice.

Over the last 14 or so months our childcare and school arrangements never felt consistent or long-term and caused Alex and me tremendous stress. There’s nothing quite like worrying about the care your child is receiving in your absence. I’m a very diligent and involved parent and there were several times over the last year that my mama bear instincts told me that things weren’t quite right. In the course of that time I’ve spoken up, been far more direct than I normally care to be and advocated for the well-being of my children. I finally reached the end of my rope and decided I’d rather take over myself.

Ben will remain in preschool four mornings a week this school year and then will transition to a Montessori preschool, four mornings a week, in the fall. I signed him up for gymnastics one afternoon a week and a few week-long morning camps this summer. The rest of the time we’ll spend bouncing around the city, playing at the park or the beach, going to the zoo and doing toddleriffic projects at home. I can’t wait to have more time with my kids to explore and check out new things in this beautiful area we call home. I also hope we’ll be able to spend more time up in the mountains together.

I’m truly overjoyed to be starting my new career as “mom” – I have been yearning for more time with my kiddos for quite a while. They’re growing up so fast I can’t stand it. They’re not going to be this little for much longer and I want to savor this sweet and special time with them.

It’s the beginning of a chapter with no end in sight. Alex and I can’t wait to finally feel settled in our lives, something we haven’t felt in years.

Building the Lodge: Prepping for Move In

The time has finally arrived for us to get ready to move into The Lodge!

Our builder must have called in a lot of favors last week because the house is nearly done. As of Monday, most of the trades wrapped up and closed up their job at The Lodge. There are still a lot of really little things to get done, along with a few not-so-little things, and come this weekend, it seems like it’ll be ready for us!

Last weekend Alex rented a 6’x12′ Uhaul and we filled it with all of the boxes from our house. We had expected to make two trips back and forth to bring all of the boxes. Much to our surprise, Alex’s tetris’ skills saved the day and we fit everything in the first load.

The purpose of Alex’s trip was to bring all of the boxes to the house, stay the night and receive the first and main furniture delivery from Room & Board. So much had been done since I had seen the house the week prior! Check it out:

{Carpet!}

{The bunk room – we really wanted individual lights for all four bunks.}

{Downstairs bathroom}

{Main floor bathroom}

{Master bathroom}

{One of the most exciting places in the house: the private master bathroom toilet!}

{This is the kids room on the main floor. We’re going to keep them upstairs while they’re still so little. Once they get older we’ll move them down to the bunk room.}

{Before heading back on Monday Alex put together Hannah’s crib and Ben’s toddler bed so that they’re ready for them when we arrive next time!}

{Laundry room! I’m pretty excited about the storage and the hanging rod for line drying clothes. Opposite this view is a utility sink. We don’t have a utility sink in our primary home and I am so excited for one! The little things…}

{Barn door into the master}

{The cleaners came while Alex was there today – spick & span!}

{Most of the light fixtures have been installed – a lot of them were put in while Alex was there so some photos are not up-to-date}

{And then they took the paper off of the floors. I really have no words for the sheer beauty of these floors. I just can’t wait to see them in person!}

The next time we go up there it will be together as a family to move in for real. It’s going to be a long process, I can tell, and we are so ready!

Kids Room

Well, it’s official, we have a “kids’ room” – not just Ben’s room anymore.

If you’ve been to our house before you know it’s on the small side of the size spectrum. Our main floor is around 1,000 square feet and is where all the action happens and where life is lived. Our little 1909 house has a circular floor plan with compartmentalized rooms and no insulation. That being said, it’s loud, creaky and closed off. What it lacks in modern day function for a family with two young kids, it makes up for in charm and character, thankfully.

Hannah spent her first six months in a pack & play {a portable crib} in our bedroom. You could draw a 10 foot line from the kitchen stove straight to Hannah’s pack & play. Not the most ideal place for baby Hannah to sleep in the evenings when Alex and I are trying to clean up the house, get coffee ready for the next morning or make Ben’s lunch for the next day.

We decided to take the band-aid approach to merging our two kiddos into the same room. We pressed “order” on the crib for Hannah and then shortly after it came we made the time to assemble it and re-arrange the spaces. That happened about 10 days ago.

It took Hannah a few nights to adjust to her new crib and surroundings. Her new room is much different – Ben sleeps with white noise to help drown out the sounds coming from throughout the house, as well as a night light and a heater that makes noise. It’s loud in a different way.

I’m happy to report that it seems like Hannah has fully transitioned to her new space. She’s been napping so much better in her crib than she did in the pack & play {honestly, I almost never had her nap in the pack & play because the naps were so short! Probably because it was so awful and uncomfortable… sorry Hannah!}.

It was an adjustment for Ben, too, and I think he really loves having Hannah in there with him. He is such a caring big brother. Ben woke up too during first few nights when Hannah would wake up upset. When I’d come in to comfort Hannah Ben would ask if I was going to rock her or feed her. If I’d say I was going to take her out and feed her he’d ask if I was bringing her back, then he’d wait up, quietly in his bed, for her to return safely before falling back to sleep.

My office just got cleaned out downstairs {more on that to come!} and I made a super quick turnaround to turn that into an alternate play space for Ben to use if Hannah is napping upstairs. So far his quiet time {usually on the couch} and afternoon play time has coincided nicely with Hannah’s naps and hasn’t been a big deal… yet!

I think that having Hannah move into Ben’s room has been one of the first big steps into the sweet sibling dynamic. Ben has been really interested in Hannah this last week. He makes sure to hug and kiss her goodnight and he’s been trying to play with her or help her lately. The sibling love is pretty much the sweetest thing ever.

Building the Lodge: The Home Stretch

I had the rare opportunity to go out to the lodge by myself last week. We needed to bring a bunch of light fixtures out so I stepped up to the plate and delivered them safely. Not only was I happy to get rid of part of the gigantic stack of boxes in the dining room, I could hardly wait to see the house.

With just one week left until our furniture starts arriving at The Lodge there is a lot that still needs to get done. All of the finishing touches need to be wrapped up and completed. Our fingers are crossed that things will come together at the 11th hour and we’ll be able to get moved in.

It feels like a circus right now with all of the coordinating and the logistics happening. It’s a funny game of logistics and coordination trying to figure out when to order certain things and finalizing the details on what seems to be a hundred million little pieces.

Everything is coming together really nicely, albeit a bit slower than we had hoped. The colors and materials in the house look incredible. I love how everything goes so well together. I love how the kitchen hardware looks.

When I arrived at the house I was pleasantly surprised that the counters were being installed. We have the same quartz slabs in all 3 bathrooms as we do in the kitchen.

There were so many people working that day that I tried to get in, drop the lights off, and go so that they could focus on their work.

The painters were there doing touch up work and finishing painting the trim. We decided to paint the trim around the windows the same color as the walls and I love how it turned out. Before the trim had been painted at all {it came white} we thought there was too much contrast between the trim, the wall color and the black windows so we opted to minimize that by keeping the color consistent with the wall.

I couldn’t get over the richness and depth of the wood color of our interior doors. They are knotty alder. The painters applied a clear {or mostly clear?} coat over the doors and they are stunning. The doors are one of my favorite parts of the house, though it’s really hard to play favorites.

Another new thing I got to see in person for the first time is our “boot bench” in the front entry. I can’t wait to organize this! We found some really beautiful hooks that will be mounted in the big open part, otherwise I’ll be on the hunt for a bunch of baskets to have to store our outdoor gear in the little cubbies. Opposite from the boot bench we have a big closet with plenty of coat storage, as well as a long shelf for more baskets or containers for, you guessed it, more gear. I knew that year-round gear storage would be really important to us so this space was a big part of the planning process.

The last thing I got to see taking shape was the pantry! I’m so excited to have a walk-in pantry – and one that’s not cavernous like my current pantry. This will come in so handy for a vacation home. I can’t wait to stock up on pantry supplies. I am so looking forward to cooking and baking up here with my kiddos while watching the snow fall out the windows, and I can speak for my mother in-law and say I know that she is excited for that too.

My visit at the house was so quick and I wasn’t ready to leave the area so I popped into town {the little village is called Plain – it’s about a 1-2 minute drive from our house} and grabbed lunch at The Old Mill. I swung through Plain Hardware for a coffee to take with me for my drive back and then made a quick stop at Lake Wenatchee just to take in the view. It was such a gorgeous day and I really wanted to stay in the mountains.

All in all, the house is coming together and so much is happening this week. Though the house won’t be 100% complete, Alex is planning two U-haul trips out there this weekend to clear out all of the boxes from my office {omg.}. The following week we’re planning on officially moving in and Alex’s parents will be out there enjoying the house with us. I’m headed out for the week of President’s Day with the kids and my dad since school is out. If all goes according to plan, the house should be complete, save for a shower door and some light fixtures, by February 10th.

We are SO close it is just tantalizing right now. It’s been so far away for so long that now that it’s almost here it’s almost hard to believe.

Ben & Hannah

People ask me all the time if I think that Hannah looks like Ben, or if I think she looks more like her father or me. Some people think Hannah is a spitting image of Ben, others think she and Ben look nothing alike. To me, I see some resemblance but they have some very different features, I think, and it’s also tough because at this age they’re at opposite ends of the weight spectrum.

I’ve been having fun with Google Photos and their historical photos and collages they put together. It seems like Hannah is hitting her milestones at about the same date that Ben did, so Alex and I have been loving all of the “on this day in 2017…” photos of Ben learning to sit up.

I certainly think their eyes are similar – and, at least for now, Hannah has kept her blue eyes, just like her big brother. Alex and I aren’t convinced they’re here to stay, though.

Maybe I’ll dig up some old pictures of Alex and me and we can see if our kids look like us when we were babies? Stay tuned…

Toddler Skiing Adventures

Last winter we got Ben out on skis for the first time. We bought some little plastic skis that attached to his snow boots and pulled him around in the snow. He loved it! This winter we stepped up our game significantly and invested in a helmet, goggles, real deal skis and boots and even ski socks for our little learner.

Naturally since Alex and I are very much into skiing we’ve been eagerly awaiting the day when we could introduce Ben to one of our favorite pastimes. His first day on skis this year didn’t go quite as we had hoped.

The stars did not align for us on Ben’s first official ski day. It was just after Christmas and Ben fell asleep in the car on the way to the mountain. He woke up on the wrong side of the car seat when we arrived and it took a solid hour and a half for him to chill out. During the course of that 90 minutes when we were *those* people Alex and I were trying to be conscious to not push the whole concept of skiing too much so as to create negative feelings towards it.

Eventually we decided to bring our gear up to the ski lodge and go play in the snow and have some lunch. Lo and behold, apparently, despite having had a big breakfast, Ben was starving. He ate a gigantic hot dog, in addition to some chicken and fries. Our lunch lasted more than an hour because he wouldn’t stop eating. Finally he told us he wanted to go skiing, so off we went.

By that point we had been gone for quite a while and I hadn’t left enough milk for us to be away from Hannah for more than a handful of hours. We called it a day when we were on a high note and Ben wanted to keep skiing. Despite the rocky start, we chalked it up as a success!

Day two happened last weekend and it was SO much fun. Ben loved his first day on the magic carpet. Hannah and I were the official cheerleaders while Alex played ski instructor. For me, the best part of the day was watching the pure joy on Ben’s face as he and Alex sailed down the bunny hill.

I didn’t get many good photos because I wanted to take a video, plus it’s not super easy to capture a great picture on the bunny hill…

In any case, I think Ben is hooked. This time around he wasn’t interested in eating lunch, pushed it aside and said he wanted to go skiing. Alex happily obliged and they had a blast.

Sweet Hannah loved the fresh mountain air and had herself a lovely day, too.

We can’t wait for day 3 on skis for Ben! We’re hoping to be able to sneak out to the pass to get Ben on skis as often as possible this winter so he can continue to get comfortable with it. It’s our intention to get him started in ski school next winter! Hope that pans out 🙂

Hannah is Six Months Old!

Sweet Hannah Max has been with our family for half a year now and it feels like she’s always been here. Hannah continues to be an absolute delight. Her smile brightens up anyone who looks at her. I get so many compliments when I’m out with her about how happy she is.

Hannah’s stats:

  • Weight: 17 pounds 15 ounces {80th percentile}
  • Length: 26.1″ {60th percentile}
  • Clothing size: 6-12 months
  • Number of teeth: 0
  • Eye color: still blue!

As a six-month old Hannah is mostly still sleeping through the night and takes about 3 naps per day. Usually two cat naps and a longer snooze. Her schedule is somewhat predictable and driven by a combination of the day and Hannah – for the most part she goes with the flow.

We’ve had a tremendous amount of change in the last month or so and Hannah has dealt with it okay. I’ve noticed that she has been rather opposed to spending the day, or really any amount of time, with a stranger or any new person. She had a rather lengthy adjustment period when Anna, our new au pair, arrived.

In the last month we started introducing solid foods to Hannah. It has been so much fun watching her get used to the idea of eating foods and seeing the look on her face when she tries something new. So far, we haven’t found anything she doesn’t like.

We knew Hannah was ready for solid foods a while ago when she’d start reaching out and grabbing the food on my plate and bringing it to her mouth. She’s been so curious about the concept of eating for quite some time.

I’ve had a very laid-back and stress-free approach to feeding Hannah. At this point my goal is merely to get her used to the idea of eating. A few foods we’ve tried with her include: bananas {her first food!}, avocado, sweet potato, cucumber, red pepper, pear, yogurt, cheese and oatmeal. Over the weekend we checked “peanuts” off the list. Fingers crossed for no allergies!

Just a few days ago we made the call to say that Hannah is officially sitting up! She loves being able to have a different outlook on her surroundings. I think she really enjoys watching her big brother play nearby, too.

Hannah is SO CHATTY! She’ll interrupt a conversation or dinner to tell us a story or just start talking out of nowhere. She loves being included in what’s going on. Once she has the words I have a feeling she’s going to figure out how to use them rather quickly! Right now she just sounds like a typical 6-month old baby: a pterodactyl!

Ben is still pretty much the only one who can get a laugh out of Hannah. It is really sweet. Usually Hannah cracks up at Ben being a goofball – sometimes Alex will involve Hannah in Ben’s evening rumpus and she loves it.

Another fun milestone for Hannah in the last month is that she’s been able to ride in the stroller seat and the shopping cart. I have really enjoyed this as a way to interact with her a little more.

Our sweet Hannah girl is all smiles these days. She is the happiest, most content baby I know.

#Momlife

I’ve been moming real hard lately and it has been wonderful. We have had so much going on recently and I have really savored the time I spent with my littles, in particular the one-on-one time.

The one-on-one time I have been able to spend with Ben recently has been extra special. With all of the people around for the holidays and all of the change we had going on I was really missing my biggest little and I think the feeling was mutual. It’s so hard when there’s so much going on to be able to break away just the two of us and have some mama/Ben time. I was so grateful for more opportunities when December turned into January.

I have built-in time with Ben, just the two of us, four mornings a week when I take him to preschool. Once a week I stay for the two-hour class at his co-op and we get to play together. He absolutely loves co-op and that time is really special for both of us.

Usually co-op ends with a steamed milk or a hot chocolate – partly as a special treat for keeping his pants dry and partly because I’m a softie. I never thought I’d be a softie but I totally am. And I’m ok with that!

Ben has been growing up so fast and I can’t stand it. It’s hard to think how close we are to times when he’s not going to need us as much and when he’s going to be so independent he won’t want our help constantly, and, heartbreakingly, the time will come when he won’t want to cuddle or be picked up all the time.

Obviously I want my kids to grow up and be independent and self-sufficient but I love so much this beautiful season that we’re in right now. I know every milestone and every phase results in more and more fun but I’m getting so much joy from where we’re at that I want to relish it as long as I can. My babies aren’t going to be babies for much longer, after all.

My littlest is growing at warp speed. It did not go this fast with Ben as a baby, that’s for sure. I hope that life starts to slow down once our weekends will be spent together as a family in the mountains. Something tells me that’s naive.

I also savor the moments, though, when I can enjoy my coffee + biscotti in the morning, read my book {currently reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine}, cook and plan out the week. My time cooking is extremely limited these days, as is my computer and planning time. I have become much better at making the time to have some coffee and read in the mornings by purposefully waking up early. I absolutely love sitting in silence in the dark, enjoying the calm of the morning.

If I’m being honest, the part of #momlife I like the least right now is trying to schedule in time to pump. I’m constantly on the go for my job and it is really tricky some days to make the time. My work schedule is flexible but some days there is simply not enough time between appointments. Thankfully I’ve been able to have a low/no-stress approach to this so far and while I’m hoping to be able to keep up with Hannah’s needs with breast milk, I’m totally fine if we need to supplement with formula.

{cup of ice from the coffee shop to keep the milk cold!}

I’ve had a bit of an interesting go of things recently as a cat mom. Poor Henry got injured a few weeks ago and has required quite a lot of follow-up treatment as a result. We were at the vet every day last week and I’m happy to say Henry has made a complete recovery now. My sweet Ben melted everyone’s heart at the vet, though, when we had to drop Henry off and say good bye – Ben bent down in front of the door of Henry’s carrier and said “Bye Henry! I hope you feel better. Have a good day!” There’s nothing quite like a 2-year old.

The best moments as of late are the evenings, right around 7:00, when I’m sitting down to feed Hannah and Ben comes in to say goodnight to us. Hannah always takes precedent over me. He comes in, wraps his little arms around his baby sister and gives her a gentle squeeze then makes sure to give her a kiss – sometimes on the head, other times on the hand, and then, so sweetly, says “goodnight Hannah!” and then I look up at his father and we acknowledge that we know we’ve done something right.

In “#dadlife” news – Alex has also been dading pretty hard, too. He and Ben have had some really special time together over the last few weeks. They went rock climbing, swimming and to the gymnastics gym recently. Ben and Alex are two peas in a pod and Ben is so much like his dad. It melts my heart watching the two of them together.

While I have such limited time to myself right now, it’s so hard to imagine life before kids these days. These two little humans have made my heart {and life!} so full. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Building the Lodge: Floors, Cabinets, Oh My!

It had been three solid weeks since Alex and I had seen The Lodge and boy did a lot happen in that time! We are SO close to completion.

There have been two crews in our house working furiously to finish up the interior. So many large and small details have been going on like installing the cabinets and built-ins, laying the hardwood floors, grouting tile, hanging doors, painting and installing trim, and the list goes on… take a look!

{Walking up the steps to the main floor – the refrigerator will be encased in the wood cabinetry seen at the top. The wood on the cabinet will be seen in random spots in the house. It’s a special process using vinegar and red wine rather than stain that creates a rustic gray look.}

{Hello kitchen cabinets! We will have a big vent hood above the range and a series of 3 open shelves on the walls above the kitchen counters. The corner shelf will help anchor some of the shelves so we can stack heavier items.}

{Kitchen island – we’ll have our microwave in the shelf here. I’m looking forward to having more drawers in the kitchen to use.}

{I hadn’t heard of toe kick cabinets before – these will be perfect for sheet pans, muffin tins and cooling racks and I won’t have to use a whole vertical shelf to store them. Win!}

{The hardwood floors are stunnnnnningggg! We went with a #2 knotty white oak floor with 5″ wide boards throughout the main level of the house. The bathrooms/entry/laundry will be tile, the basement and the loft/second floor will be carpet.}

{The pantry! I can’t get over how gorgeous the interior doors are.}

{The tile in the master bathroom looks slightly different and less trippy in person – I wasn’t able to capture it perfectly on my phone. We LOVED it in person. I also can’t get over how beautiful all of the bathroom vanities are.}

{Penny tiles in the master shower! They’re not grouted yet.}

{Still some work to do in here, as you can see. We also marked locations for towel bars/hooks, toilet paper holders, and the like.}

{Basement bathroom is coming along too.}

{The cedar ceilings are DONE! They’re absolutely breathtaking. They add another dimension to the house and help bring in a rustic, mountain vibe we wanted to make sure to incorporate.}

{Our first “fun” light fixture has been installed. It fits the house so well and we love the rustic elements it brings. It’s not hung at the proper height – it’ll come down about 10 feet.}

{I was so opposed to bi-fold doors, really in any context, but LOOK at these doors! The tracks they slide on are solid too. I’m converted!}

{I have so much admiration for craftsmen. One of my favorite parts of the home building process has been our frequent trips to the wood shop where all of our cabinets and built-ins and some of our furniture are being constructed. I appreciate so very much that these pieces are handcrafted just 2 miles from our house.}

{The basement! I can’t believe how bright it is down here, despite the lack of windows in the main room. This will be kid hangout zone. Phase two will include a bar!}

{We’re having custom metal railings with horizontal cable wires installed here on the landing, on the loft and outside on the deck. Peering down over the ledge is the front entry closet and we’ll have a built-in bench with cubbies and some hooks on the other side of the door.}

We’ve been busily ordering things for the house like bedding linens, big furniture pieces, accent furniture, lighting and the like. We haven’t pulled the trigger on housewares, like kitchen tools, yet, but that’ll come soon enough.

{Checking out some of the fabric samples.}

There were such great sales around the holidays that we decided to take the plunge and order the furniture. We have almost everything that we’re planning on ordering initially at this point.There are a few things we’ve decided to wait on until we’re in the space to see how it all feels and how we use it.

{My office at our house in Seattle has been overtaken by all of the boxes of things we’ve ordered.}

I’m not quite sure how the move-in process will look at this point. Our first furniture delivery is scheduled for February 4th, so hopefully we can get in by then. We can hardly wait!

Christmas 2018

This holiday season was extra special. We made so many memories and had new experiences, started new traditions and enjoyed time as a family.

Alex’s family flew out from Illinois to join us for Christmas at Suncadia Resort in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. We rented a beautiful house tucked into the snow-covered evergreens and made ourselves right at home for the week of Christmas.

Our days were spent cross country skiing, ice skating, playing with two-two-year old boys, eating, singing “The Wheels on the Bus,” making snowballs,moderating sharing of the toy guitars, downhill skiing and catching up. We were able to cross country ski out the back door of the house and that was so gratifying for me – there were a couple days where I strapped a kid to my back or hooked myself up to the ski trailer and just took off for the forest.

We also celebrated the second birthday of our nephew, Nico, on Christmas Eve. Alina put together an adorable “Wheels on the Bus” themed party for him. Both Ben and Nico love buses and the song “Wheels on the Bus” and it was perfect for a two-year old.

Hannah enjoyed cuddle time with her extended family, too, and Nico showed quite an interest in her. He is super sweet! Hannah also got plenty of floor time to practice sitting up – her newest skill she’s working on.

We’re already looking ahead to the holiday season of 2019 where we can spend it out at The Lodge and begin even more new traditions with our family. It’s so magical to be in the snow and the mountains during the holidays. Happy New Year!