Hannah is 18 Months Old!

Our baby girl is growing up so fast! Her personality continues to grow bigger and bigger each month. Hannah Maxine has really turned into a toddler lately.

  • Weight: 26 pounds, 6 oz {88th percentile}
  • Length: 32 inches {60th percentile}
  • Clothing size: 18-24 months and growing! Anything new I buy for her I’m sizing up to 2T.
  • Shoe size: toddler size 5 – growing, growing, growing!
  • Number of teeth: twelve
  • Eye color: I’m calling them “alpine lake” – the most gorgeous greeny blue
  • Favorite foods: pomegranate, smoothies!!!, Grammy’s party mix, mangoes, blueberries, cookies
  • Least favorite foods: beef, chicken
  • Favorite things/activities: doing anything Ben does, brushing her teeth, reading interactive books, playing with cars, taking things out of drawers or cupboards, waving at a dogs/people passing by, going to the park, climbing!
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, not getting what she wants, going in the car seat, getting her diaper changed

Hannah wants to do everything Ben does. “Monkey see monkey do” is on repeat inside my head all day long. Ben bangs his fork on the table, Hannah bangs hers harder. If Ben is putting on his backpack, she wants hers on too. Thank goodness she can now fit into Ben’s old red Hunter rain boots so she can have a pair that matches his. When Ben comes home and immediately wants to get his jammies on, Hannah goes to her PJ drawer and picks out a pair for me to help her into.

She is becoming so independent in wanting to do everything by herself too. Hannah loves to refill Jackson’s water bowl {so much so that she dumps it out on the floor just so she can fill it back up again}, wash her hands, pretend to vacuum or sweep the floor and pick out her own boots to wear.

Hannah is so helpful around the house! I am amazed that she’ll just walk around picking things up and putting them away. Just the other day we were playing in the living room and she noticed Ben’s mittens were on the vent drying from the day before and she went over and put them away in his basket. She is a really terrific listener and she follows directions promptly and with enthusiasm. Boy do I hope this keeps up! It’s so endearing watching her help out.

In the last month or two Hannah has become more interested in playing by herself, away from me. I’ve always felt she’s pretty independent in that she likes to do things for herself; however, she generally wants me to be with her. Recently that has begun to change and she’ll spend longer periods of time playing with a toy off in the distance at the mountain house or around the corner in another room in Seattle.

It seems like Hannah has been working on repeating more words this last month. She definitely has a few new ones. Most of Hannah’s words sound like a variation of the word “dada” so it’s rather hard to understand what she is saying at this point. For several months now it’s been clear Hannah can understand everything we say – we’re just working very hard to understand what she has to say.

While Hannah isn’t pronouncing many words properly she sure can convey her point. It makes me wonder if she’s satisfied with her method of communication and has chosen not to talk more. She uses sign language a lot, does a lot of pointing, a lot of shouting and demanding, she’ll bring me something she wants me to put on her or she’ll take my hand and pull me to where she wants to go. She surely has figured out how to make the most of her abilities.

Hannah’s personality continues to mountainous. She is SO much fun. When she’s supremely happy, generally after filling her belly, she puts her arms up near her shoulders, stiffens her body and just shouts jubilantly. Over and over again. We all know when she’s happy because she starts to get really loud!

Hannah is incredibly slow to warm up to people who want to get in her personal space and rarely leaves my side in a new setting or when other adults are at our house. I think she’s afraid I’m going to leave. Hannah is my little koala bear.

Within the last week or two I’ve started to notice Hannah and Ben actually beginning to play together. They sort of wrestle and goof around with Hannah climbing on Ben’s back. Hannah is always the instigator and her ever patient big brother is typically a willing participant.

Lately I’ve been noticing that Hannah is extremely jealous when I pay Ben attention, especially during an afternoon when Ben has been at school. Those are the days Hannah and I have special one-on-one time while Ben is away. She is known to push him out of my lap, come up and whack him on the head with a toy or her hand or just start shouting at him.

She’s also figured out just exactly what she needs to do to get my attention when I’m trying to get something done. Generally it’s by dumping Jackson’s water or food bowl out on the ground. Other times it’s wiping her high chair tray clean of food if I am multitasking while she’s having a snack. At 18-months old she’s got it all figured out!

Gosh this girl is a blast. She is just so much fun. We’re looking forward to the next few months as we continue to enjoy winter in the mountains!

Ben is 18 months old

 

First Holiday Season at The Lodge

This holiday season was extra special for us. We’re hoping to spend every Thanksgiving and Christmas at The Lodge from here until eternity and our inaugural year didn’t disappoint. Our first Christmas season was a white one and it was filled with more joy and smiles on my kids’ faces than I’ve ever seen before.

We were able to spend just over two weeks holed up in the mountains together and it was magical and so, so very special. It seems like our quality family time happens mostly at The Lodge and to have such an abundance was the best gift of the season.

Our Christmas traditions seemed extra special this year. Alex perfected his cinnamon roll baking skills and whipped up the best batch yet! I knocked out a few more dozen of my new favorite Christmas cookie – M&M cookies. Ben decorated a gingerbread house and we cozied up on the couch in front of the fire for The Night Before Christmas.

There were so many firsts that will be on the “traditions” list from here on out.

We loved ice skating in town, finding the best sledding hill around and going cross country skiing still holds high on our list. Ben got three days of skiing in and Alex and I managed to get one, too, although it was separate.

A few days after Christmas my dad made his way out to The Lodge. We were also joined for a few visits by my cousin Jonathan, his wife, Kelly, and their almost 2-year old son, Miles, who were staying nearby. The weather was really mixed during this part of our trip and was fraught with torrential rain for a few days.

Despite the unseasonable weather we managed to get out for a few adventures around town and hosted Jon, Kelly and Miles for a few play dates to escape the rain. After taking Ben skiing, my dad and I were able to stay at Stevens Pass for a few hours and take some runs together. It was such a treat and the conditions were amazing.

This first holiday season at The Lodge was an absolute dream. Time moved so slowly and it really felt like we were able to unwind, relax, play and enjoy each other’s company. It actually did feel like a vacation.

The snowy weather made the experience that much more special. Snow is one of my absolute favorite things and I found myself rushing to the windows in the morning to see if new snow had fallen in the night. We read “Snow” as many times as possible because every time we recited it, it snowed!

My heart is extra full after this holiday season and it’s overflowing with gratitude and excitement that we are able to spend so much time out in the mountains this winter. Happy ski season!

2010-2019… A Decade Recap

I’ve been super nostalgic lately and I think it’s partly due to the fact that my toddlers are growing up before my eyes, but also partly because the decade is coming to an end. I wanted to put together a little photo reel of images I thought summed up each year of the 2010s. Happy New Year!

2010

We bought our first house! Back when we were 24 we were not anticipating still being there a decade later and bringing home our babies to that home. We fell in love with our little craftsman and absolutely adore our neighborhood. I don’t know if we’ll ever leave Madrona, but hopefully one day we’ll up-size and get a slightly bigger house.

2011

Skiing was a major part of our 2011. This winter we made it to Whistler, Breckenridge, Jackson Hole and Crystal Mountain. We palled around Crystal Mountain with our friends Carrie and Patrick, as well as Steve and Diane, and solidified our friendship, love of the mountains and skiing skills.  We rented a cabin for four weekends the winter of 2010-2011 with two other couples and that was the gateway to our quest for our own ski cabin. 2011 also marked the year that Alex and I snuck off to the courthouse and got legally married, then later that year Alex’s paternal grandmother, Maxine, passed away.

2012

Our winter wonderland wedding took place on April 14, 2012 in the mountain town of Vail, Colorado. 90 of our family members and closest friends joined us as we said “I do” while surrounded by puffy snowflakes falling down just for the occasion. 2012 was also the year we got our puppy, Aspen. Sadly, she only lived six months. We also said goodbye to Alex’s maternal grandfather, Papa.

2013

We celebrated our first anniversary in Hawaii just before bringing home our puppy, Jackson. That summer was filled with weddings and associated parties, as well as travel to said weddings. As newlyweds ourselves it was extra fun to celebrate our friends’ nuptials. Along the way in 2013, I lost both of my grandmothers and now Alex and I only have one surviving grandparent – his maternal grandmother, Nana.

2014

The trip of a lifetime was our major 2014 highlight. We spent a month touring Italy, Switzerland, Spain, London and Amsterdam. The reason for the trip was to attend the dreamy wedding of Alex’s sister, Alina, and her husband, Alberto in northern Italy. Our trip was a dream and we think back on this so often.

2015

This was the last year before we had kids and we sure lived it up in 2015. We drank all of the wine, took as many trips as possible and enjoyed our time together. I got pregnant in the fall of 2015, so the year ended with my first trimester.

2016

During the earlier parts of my pregnancy Alex and I managed to squeeze in quite a few memorable ski days. We went to Park City together, then Alex went on a cat ski trip with our friend Patrick while I went to Whistler with my dad. I’m so grateful we got that many ski days before we became parents. Ben arrived on the very last day of May in 2016 via an abrupt c-section. After a month in the NICU we brought him home and started our life as a family of three. Having a premature newborn is no easy feat. There were many challenges and so much joy in 2016. We certainly adjusted to our new normal and were so very grateful to have had Edina, our wonderful nanny help us navigate the beginning of parenthood.

2017

I had a hard time coming up with a “theme” for 2017. It really was a fun year but not one with a major trend, other than navigating parenthood. We managed to travel a bit – we went to Arizona, Whistler, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois and we bought the property in Leavenworth that we eventually built The Lodge on.

2018

Hannah was born right in the middle of summer 2018. She was the absolute best baby and made us feel like a real family. A few months before Ben turned 2 we broke ground on building The Lodge, and Alex had a big job change.

2019

The Lodge was completed in early 2019 and our year was spent adjusting to our new life with two toddlers and two homes. The joy we experienced in 2019 is a life’s worth. We made all of the memories and squeezed in as much as we possibly could to this special year. We spent so much time together as a family, as well as with our extended family and close friends. Early in the year I left my job to stay home with our kiddos.

I can’t even imagine what’s in store for the next decade. I only hope that the 2020s bring us more family time, a continued love of exploration and nature, good health, an abundance of travel and patience. By the end of the 2020s our children will be teenagers and Alex and I will be approaching our mid-40s. I don’t really think I’ve thought about what those days late in the next decade will possibly look like – I just hope they’re happy ones.

2019 Recap… A Year in Review

2019 has been a year filled with so many highlights it is going to be tricky to narrow them down. Alongside the highlights we weathered some storms, quite a few illnesses, and navigated significant changes, including a career change for both Alex and me. Alex switched roles and is now working in management, rather than as a software developer, and I’m finishing out my first year as a full-time mama.

The year started with such mixed emotions. We were busily making final decisions on The Lodge while also on-boarding our new au pair. We quickly realized she wasn’t going to work out and we made the tough, yet easy, decision for me to leave my job and stay home with the kids. The year didn’t go quite as we had expected.

February marked our move-in date to The Lodge! It also marked a 3-week period where the city of Seattle was covered in a thick coating of snow and ice and there was no school. That meant we got “snowed in” at The Lodge for our first big trip there. What an experience that was!

The rest of the winter was much the same – getting settled at The Lodge and going up every weekend. We quickly got into a groove.

Ben fell in love with skiing and by the end of the season was able to ski a bit independently.

Ben also fell in love with the pump track, where he built tremendous confidence on his balance bike, as well as gymnastics. He is naturally very athletic and we noticed a big boost in his self-esteem last winter as a result of these various physical activities.

Alex and I didn’t get to enjoy the benefits of having a season pass at Stevens Pass; however, we did get our fair share of days in on our cross country skis.

Our family photographer, Kim, came out to The Lodge late winter to capture our little piece of paradise. I will always treasure these beautiful photos from our first month there.

Once the snow melted at The Lodge we pulled out our hiking boots and really began exploring our surroundings.

We had a wonderful spring in the mountains with Grammy and Papa. They spent a month out in Washington and the kids loved getting to have so much time with their grandparents. Grandpa Fred and Uncle John came to enjoy the sun and built the kids a swing set to kick off our first spring/summer at The Lodge. Hannah started crawling on Mother’s Day and that opened up a whole host of possibilities for her.

Spring quickly turned into summer. Summer 2019 was one of the best of my adult life so far. We started off the summer by celebrating Ben’s third birthday, doing a round of swimming lessons, spending as much time as possible at the pump track and dipping our toes in the world of summer camp. 

Despite the joy and happy memories June was a really tough month. It was the first month Ben was three and ohhh the defiance. Hannah also turned 11 months in June and lordy she turned into a tantruming, demanding toddler then. I was totally thrown off my game, adding to the fact that it was summer and there was zero consistency since school was out. Thankfully we came out the other side eventually.

As the days grew warmer the memories compounded. Alex took off nearly 3 weeks of work and we savored precious family time and celebrated Hannah’s first birthday.

{#prodad}

The summer unofficially came to an end for us on our Labor Day weekend trip to Wisconsin to visit Alex’s family. We got to meet our new nephew Marco, too!

This fall Ben started a Montessori preschool and absolutely loves it. Our early fall was primarily spent in the mountains enjoying the spectacular colors and entertaining friends and family. We got hit hard at the start of the school year with stomach bugs, pneumonia and croup and it took us a while to bounce back. Hannah learned to walk, I ran the Leavenworth Octoberfest Half Marathon in October and Ben joined a soccer team. We’ve been using a babysitter more regularly to give me a break during the week and allow Alex and me to enjoy an adults-only dinner out together.

The holiday season arrived abruptly, amidst another round of illness, and our hearts overflowed with joy and pride as we celebrated our first Thanksgiving and Christmas in Leavenworth at The Lodge. Alex made a quick trip back to Illinois to celebrate his mom’s birthday. The holiday season has been filled with skiing, sledding and ice skating and we can’t wait to enjoy the rest of the winter in the mountains.

Well, that’s a wrap! I am so looking forward to seeing what could possibly be in store for the Allen family in 2020. My wish is for it to be a year filled with good health, lots of snow and an abundance of time spent with family and friends in the mountains. Happy new year!

Lodge Tour: Master Oasis

I’m tempted to say that our master bedroom is my favorite part of the whole entire house. It’s so hard to pick favorites, but when I walk into the master suite I instantly feel a sense of tranquility and pause to take in the beauty – especially in the evening when the lights are dimly lit.

{The knotty cedar ceiling is striking and I can’t get enough of the views of the Ponderosas out the windows. I absolutely love how the decor and finishes came together in this room.}
Bed
Dresser & nightstands
Blanket
Quilt
Decorative pillows
Lamps
Chandelier

{The master bedroom has an en suite bathroom and closet with a separate powder room – a must for us!}

{We had so much fun pulling together the finishes in the bathrooms and just love the fun pattern on the tile.}

During the design process we also stumbled upon Brooklinen and gave them a try for our bath towels as well as our sheets. I’m hooked! Each mattress in the house {we have seven!} is from Tuft & Needle and we loooveee them. We’re so happy with all of the finishings we ended up selecting.

Lodge Tour: Exterior & Main Living Spaces

We are darn near done furnishing The Lodge and putting the finishing touches on the stylings and I just can’t wait another moment to take you on a tour! If you’ve been following along for a while you’ve seen many pictures; however, we haven’t felt the house was in a complete enough state to really stop and take some good pictures to share until now!

Well, the wait {for us!} is over. We are so in love with this beautiful home and are so pleased with how it turned out, thanks to our amazing builder M&M Quality Construction. Here’s a tour of the outside and main living areas. Bedrooms to come separately!

{From last winter – our snowbanks aren’t this high quite yet!}

{Also from last winter – I just love the snowy trees in the backdrop.}

{Welcome! We knew we’d be opening our house up to family and friends and would need a lot of space to store coats and gear. Our cabinet maker built us this custom boot bench and it’s one of my favorite parts of the house.}

{We have a split entry with very high ceilings – I just love walking in the front door.
Lights from Crate & Barrel and door from Simpson.}

{The kitchen is a dream come true. We had so much fun picking out the kitchen cabinet color and working with our cabinet maker to fine-tune his special blend of vinegar and red wine as the stain for the upper cabinets and open shelves.}
Appliances
Hardware
Most dishes
Kitchen lighting
Rugs (no longer available)
Bar stools

{We love having the great room open into the kitchen and dining room with a view up to the loft.}
Sofa Pillows – no longer available (from Crate & Barrel)
Ottaman – no longer available (from West Elm)
Rug – no longer available (from West Elm) – similar rug
Blankets
Lamp – no longer available (From Crate & Barrel)
Side board – custom
All visible art
All visible lighting
Dining table – custom
Dining chairs – color: dark gray (looks black in person)

{We feel so cozy in our great room. Any time of day it feels so homey, especially when we have a fire going.}
Sofa – color: tepic gray
Side board – custom
Leather chairs – color: vento smoke with walnut wood
Striped rug – no longer available
Cow hide rug
Benches – custom
Bench cushions – custom
Wagon wheel light fixture
Wall sconces
Art above side board
Art above chairs

{Meals at this beautiful table are extra special. Our cabinet maker hand-made this table, with seating for 12. Dining chairs are from Room & Board.}

{View from the loft.}

One of the best parts of the house is the quality of materials and the quality of local tradesmen who came together to build this dream home for us. We are so grateful to all of the people who had a hand in this project. I’d link them here but we’ve realized this town is so small that no one seems to have a web presence!

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

So far our Christmas has been filled with joy and excitement. We have made so many memories with our family and are enjoying carrying out our Christmas traditions.

This is our first Christmas at The Lodge and it has been so magical. I hope I remember these days for the rest of my life.

One of the extra special memories we made this year was cutting down our Christmas tree from the forest on our property at The Lodge. Just as we made it to the forest it began to snow! We trudged through the ice crusted snow with our very own saw and found the perfect Ponderosa Pine. It surely isn’t like a typical Grand Fir or Fraser Fir most folks are used to, but this tree is the most perfect of Christmas trees I’ve laid eyes on.

Of course we had a very Christmas Vacation moment when we brought the tree inside and realized just how big it really was!

Alex trimmed it back and we got carried away with decorating our beauty.

Every year since Ben was born the holiday season has been more and more special and this one takes the cake. Seeing the joy now from two toddlers is extremely heartwarming. I can’t wait to see what happens after Santa comes!

Merry Christmas!

Hannah is 17 Months Old!

Hannah continues to be our little party girl. We’ve started joking that she’s going to be first in line for rush at the Arizona State University sororities. Look out class of 2040 {2040?!!} – here comes Hannah Maxine!

  • Weight: not sure – was 24 pounds 5 ounces at her last checkup
  • Length: not sure – was 31″ at her last checkup
  • Clothing size: 18-24 months
  • Shoe size: toddler size 4
  • Number of teeth: twelve! Four new teeth this month – she has all four of her first molars
  • Eye color: I’m calling them “alpine lake” – the most gorgeous greeny blue
  • Favorite foods: tangerines, pomegranate, smoothies, bananas, mangoes!!, crackers, cheese, applesauce
  • Least favorite foods: beef, chicken
  • Favorite things/activities: doing anything Ben does, reading interactive books, playing with cars, taking things out of drawers or cupboards, waving at a dogs/people passing by, going to the park, climbing, bath time, pushing her toy vacuum around
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, not getting what she wants, going in the car seat

New this month Hannah can: stand up in her high chair, ring the doorbell, flush the toilet, open the refrigerator, climb on top of the coffee table, roll her eyes and say “love you.” She has begun to answer “yeah” or shake her head no and say “uh uh” when asked a question.

Hannah is really beginning to become a bit more independent and able and willing to play on her own while I’m occupied elsewhere. Now, in all honesty, this is usually when she chooses to cause mischief.

We sure are entertained by Hannah’s mountain-size personality. Dang, she is a force. She is rough and tumble, she can hold her own and she will absolutely not stand to be pushed around by anyone else. Boy you better believe she’ll push back harder. Hannah has started to laugh when she hears laughter around her – it’s really sweet and rather amusing that she’s picked up on social laughter and wants to join in, too.

While she is quite rough, she does have a few sweet spots. It melts my heart to see when we’re out and about how friendly she is. She loves waving at a person or a dog passing by. It makes her day when the person actually stops and waves back. She loves to dance and sing and is very affectionate.

Hannah love, love, loves fruit and smoothies and cheese, but that’s about where she draws the line most days. Occasionally she’ll eat bread, pork, eggs, pasta and vegetables, but mostly she just wants fruit. If you put something she doesn’t like on her plate the whole meal will soon become food for the dog. It also seems like this month her appetite has decreased significantly and either she doesn’t need quite as much food anymore or the emergence of her new molars were playing a role.

Lately Hannah has been repeating all of the words. It’s been so fun. I have no idea what her comprehension is in terms of vocabulary, but she is extremely quick to follow directions and always seems to know what is being asked of her. Her spoken vocabulary is tough to decipher at this point.

Alex and I have really been working with her on pronunciation but it is extremely difficult to understand what Hannah is saying. Contextually you can guess, and she has the syllables down, but, it just sounds like most of her words are a slight variation of “dada.” She has been saying “mama” a lot more lately and some of her consonants are becoming more clear. I’ve noticed a big leap in her communication skills in the last week or so.

Climbing things has been very exciting to Hannah. I think she just grew a little taller and that has opened up a few new possibilities for her. She loves climbing the stairs and thankfully she’s starting to get pretty good at going down backwards. Hannah can climb up into the furniture in the living room and is getting more confident in her abilities at the park.

Hannah is generally a terrific sleeper. She is sleeping soundly for around 11.5 hours overnight and typically naps for 1.5-3 hours during the day. The catch is if she has a morning cat nap, she’s not going to have an afternoon nap.

{Faceplant 🙁 }

Recently Hannah has been imitating actions quite regularly. She’s figuring things out much earlier than we had expected based on our prior experiences. Hannah wants to do anything her brother does. She has been quite vocal about her preferences with things and is starting to show favoritism to the colors red and pink.

Gosh this girl is a blast. She keeps us on our toes like none other, but boy is she fun. It’s fun to imagine her as she carries on through toddlerhood.

Ben at 17 months

Holiday Traditions

One of my absolute favorite holiday traditions is baking Christmas cookies. I love to package them up in a cute little box and bring them around to our neighbors to spread some holiday cheer. This year was our tenth year of doing this!

Ben got really into cookie baking with me this year. We had so much fun baking sugar cookies together. I will say, though, nothing tests your patience quite like baking with a toddler! The kids loved decorating them, too. Ben also requested making M&M cookies which turned out to be his greatest idea to date – they were SO GOOD.

I ended up having more energy for baking this year than I expected, still nothing compared to pre-kids! We turned out probably 15-16 dozen cookies this year and I hope to bake more at The Lodge. I would love to bring them around to some of our neighbors and the fire station there.

Here are the recipes we used for our favorite cookies this year:

Happy baking!

Chronicles of a Stay at Home Mom: Traveling Dad

Recently Alex flew to Chicago to celebrate his mom’s birthday. It was a huge surprise for her! This meant the kids and I stayed put in Seattle. Given it’s the month of December I packed our schedule with holiday fun to help pass the time while Alex was away.

{“Mama! I’m driving us to the North Pole!”}

I started to see the light at the end of the toddler tunnel during our Children’s Museum trip. It was our best trip ever. Both kids were so engaged, such great listeners and we all had a blast. I had my first moment where I could see that life may very well just get a little less crazy soon. Whew!

{“Mama! It’s just like your new car!”}

Our sweet neighborhood put up a big Christmas tree in downtown for the first time ever. We were so excited to participate in the lighting ceremony on Friday night. We met some friends and braved the rain to get a little change of pace and some fresh air.

The kids had the pleasure of discovering St. Nicholas had left a special treat in our shoes overnight on Saturday morning. Ben was very into the concept of St. Nicholas Day and was eager to learn more and see a picture of him. He had so many questions about St. Nick!

Our big holiday event was riding the Santa Train on Saturday. It was definitely a highlight for us all. This was the kids’ first real train ride.

We met my cousin, Chris, and his family for the ride. Their kids, Henry and Claire, are 4 and 2 respectively, so very close in age to Ben and Hannah. Life keeps getting in the way and we don’t see them as much as I’d like to which made it all the more special to get together.

The train took us on a 3-mile trip to visit Santa! This was the first time Ben had shown any interest whatsoever in meeting Santa. I was happy to oblige for a Santa picture.

We finished out the day by watching the new Grinch movie down in the playroom. It was a little scary for Ben at the beginning but overall I think it was a hit!

The rest of the weekend was a bit more low-key. We hosted a playdate at our house, spent Sunday morning at the park and made a big batch of gingerbread playdough.

{Gingerbread playdough was a HIT! It smells SO amazing! Here is the recipe.}

{Thank heavens for a coffee shop next door to the park!}

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to put up the Christmas lights and decorate our front porch with my two toddlers running around in our non-fenced in front yard. Pro tip: don’t do this! It ended up being fine, albeit stressful, but it took about 17 times as long as it should have. I would love to see a time lapse video of me doing this – every time I made one minor adjustment to the lights I had to drop them and run to grab Hannah who was darting down the sidewalk or the driveway.

The weekend was a huge success, but boy was it exhausting to be *on* as a parent for an extended period. It’s always hard when Alex isn’t around at all – we all miss him, that’s for sure! We made a lot of really special memories together and I had a great time really playing and bonding with my kids. Sometimes I feel like all we do is go from point A to point B and try to squeeze in cleaning up, doing the dishes, getting ready and doing the never ending laundry but I took a lot of that pressure off myself this weekend and really enjoyed my time. One of my parenting goals is to truly be present with my kids as much as I can and I feel confident that I hit that goal this weekend for sure.