Swimming Lessons

Ben recently completed an intense two-week swimming lessons program. His lessons were Monday through Thursday for two weeks. Spoiler alert: he loved it and made tremendous progress from start to finish.

Teacher Susie has her own pool at her house and has made quite the business of teaching swimming lessons to area kids. I believe her business is completely word of mouth and all of her classes fill up completely. She has quite a reputation and everyone seems to know about her program and the results she gets.

Her approach is a bit different than anything I’ve seen before, and it works. She has it all down pat. Her class sizes are unusually large and mixed age and ability but she’s got it figured out. Her pool shape has this little one-foot deep section and a two-and-a-half-foot shallow end so it’s great for tots.

Teacher Susie is no-nonsense and has very, very high expectations of the kids, which I appreciate. Her approach worked very well for Ben and I appreciated her firm boundaries and how much she pushed him. He responded really well to her style and progressed significantly.

By the second week Ben was jumping off the diving board and swimming {struggling!} to the side of the pool. Honestly, I don’t need Ben to be a beautiful swimmer – I need to feel confident that if when he jumps in without anyone there to catch him {oh wait – that happened on day one of swimming lessons} that he can safely make it to the side. And he can! He is capable.

At this point Ben needs to practice, practice, practice more to build up strength in the water but goodness gracious he’s getting there! He’s so comfortable and confident in the water and he is really starting to learn how to swim.

It was SO fun to watch him at swimming lessons these last two weeks. He loved it so much and it was undeniably the highlight of every single day for both of us. We’re signed up for another session later on this summer, so hopefully we’ll get a lot of practice in in the meantime.

Lodge Life: Outdoor Projects

This spring at The Lodge has been a busy one! We’ve been out in the mountains nearly every weekend since we moved in. There’s always something to do; however, with our two littles, we have been very grateful for Alex’s parents’ long stay last month to help coordinate things and get some outdoor projects taken care of. They were extremely busy and oh so helpful!

Donna and Stan spent around a month out here and they sure can get a lot done. Here’s a photo dump of what they/we have been up to!

{We have a circular turnaround in our driveway and it circles around a large cluster of trees and decades of pine needles. Stan cleared out the brush and trimmed up the trees.}

{Stan was a big help to my dad and brother in building the swing set.}

{After my dad and brother left, Stan and Donna created the wood chip base and framing around it.}

{Ben loved palling around with his grandparents, especially now that he has his very own wheelbarrow!}

{Woohoo! Thanks to Donna and Stan we have outdoor furniture and a grill!}

{One of the biggest projects they did was to spread rock around the perimeter of the house. We’re in wildfire country out in Leavenworth and one of the fire safe recommendations is to have a 4-foot rock border around the house. We hauled in a massive dump truck full of rock and Stan took on the task of laying it. Thankfully he eventually agreed to rent a bobcat to make it a little easier!}

{In addition to spreading the rock, we cleaned up some of the brush near the house and trimmed up the trees – the guidance is to remove any branches 10-feet off the ground or below.}

{They shared some sweet moments with their grandchildren too!}

{Our most recent project has been getting blinds installed! We have 40 windows in the house and we ordered blinds for 14 of them – mainly the bedrooms that are commonly used and some of the windows in the great room. We opted for motorized blinds for the middle row of windows in the great room and they’re super slick. I only have a video of them going up and down, no photos. This is the kids room.}

{We went with blackout shades in the kids room and the other bedroom on the main floor, but chose a light filtering shade for our room. Personally, I would rather sleep with the curtains open so I can wake up and see the sun and the outdoors. It gets very sunny and very hot out in Leavenworth during the summer months so we figured we should try to block out a bit of the mid-day heat.}

{There is still a lot we want to do outside on the property; however, I think most of it is going to have to wait until next year. We’re hoping to get some plants and trees planted on the berm to start softening our view of the barn next door, otherwise it’s looking like our irrigation, grass and patio will wait until next year, and the garage will come when we win the lottery.}

Ben is Three

The toddler years are in full force over here — our little Benjamin Ames is THREE! He sure is acting like a bigger kid these days – he is becoming so independent, opinionated and chatty. Ben is so much fun to be around and dang, he is the sweetest.

Ben’s stats:

  • Weight: 29 pounds 12 ounces {25th percentile}
  • Height: 37 1/4 inches {35th percentile}
  • Clothing size: 3T except for pants and shorts – he’s still 18m, 24m or 2T in bottoms!
  • Shoe size: size 7 toddler
  • Favorite foods: crackers, pasta, any type of cheese, yogurt, smoothies, cottage cheese, apple sauce, olives, tomato soup {don’t worry, he eats veggies too, these are just his faves!}
  • Favorite activities: make believing, playing independently, pushing his cars/trucks around, painting, listening to music, playing outside, watching Daniel Tiger, riding his bike, the pump track, gymnastics, swimming, reading books together or looking at books independently

So many of the little nuances we’ve seen along the way in Ben’s personality are really starting to shine. Ben is a blast! He is such a fun kid and I feel like his personality is really infectious. He is just the absolute sweetest boy – I just love his innocence and his confidence – the combination is so endearing. Ben is both extremely goofy and gets a kick out of making people laugh and he’s also really serious.

Ben has a lot of leadership qualities and loves to be in charge. He likes to tell us the exact order of how and when we do things or where to put things – fair warning: don’t put something in the wrong spot or you’ll have to answer to Mr. Ben!

As a three year old, Ben is still extremely active, as he has been his entire life. He is very, very physical and needs big body movements every day. He loves to run, ride his bike and climb on things. While he’s super active he is very capable and happy playing quietly pushing his cars and trucks around the house, reading books and coloring. Following directions; however, is not currently one of Ben’s strong suits. I find he has very selective hearing these days.

One of my favorite things about Ben is how athletic he is. His confidence has been beaming lately because he has been so successful in new physical activities. Now that he’s a little older I love watching him climb at the park, challenge his body at gymnastics and fly around the sidewalk on his bike. He got a scooter for his birthday and that has been a source of tremendous pride for him and joy for me. Swimming lessons started recently and that, in addition to the scooter, has been so heartwarming to watch. I so enjoy sitting back and watching him learn a new skill.

Ben is very friendly and rarely seems shy. He is quick to offer a greeting to an adult we pass by, tell a story to his teacher at the start of the day or go introduce himself to a kid of any age at the park. He is quite the chatty Cathy! Sadly, though, he’s started to notice when adults don’t say “hi” back – so, if you’re reading this, pay attention to the little ones waving at you and don’t crush their spirit by not saying hello – or better yet, just be friendly and say hi to everyone you pass along the way – be like Ben.

As with most toddlers, Ben’s emotions run strong and can change at the drop of a hat, especially when tired or hungry. We’ve been so impressed with how well Ben does most of the time at regulating his emotions if they’re getting out of control {unless of course he’s hungry or tired}. He loves reading books by himself or pushing his cars around and finds these activities very calming. Thanks to the show Daniel Tiger, he has learned some songs that he can sing when he needs to settle down, or even when he needs to remember how to be patient while waiting.

Lately we’ve noticed a big uptick in Ben’s emotional intelligence. He has been labeling his feelings so much recently. It is so, so cool to hear him say “I’m SO FRUSTRATED!” or tell us when he’s feeling a little upset because of something that happened, or nervous about something that’s about to happen.

Very recently we noticed a change with his compassion and empathy. Instead of jumping to say “sorry” after an offense, we’ve been coaching Ben to come over, pat the person on the shoulder and ask if they are ok and if there’s anything he can do to help/make them feel better. It actually is so much better than a quick “sorry” {or worse, “sorry, not sorry”} then back to playing and it truly creates a special moment. He’s begun to do this on his own and also in situations he’s not even involved in.

The other day Jackson ate some of Hannah’s food while we were having a picnic and I was trying to model for Ben how I would deal with that. I told Jackson that I was really upset with him for eating Hannah’s pasta and very frustrated that happened. Ben came over and gave me a kiss and asked if he could help. It’s the sweetest darn thing!

Speaking of Jackson, oh my goodness, Ben and Jackson are becoming such great pals! Ben is SO good with Jackson. He’s learning how to use our commands and hand signals with Jackson and when we’re out at The Lodge he will throw the ball for Jackson. A few weeks ago Jackson ran out the front door in our Seattle house and Ben was the one who got him to come inside, easy peasy.

In addition to being a super sweet brother to his dog, Ben is nailing it in the big brother department to his baby sister. He’s starting to figure out how to play independently near her without her trying to grab his toys and he’s also beginning to engage with her in a toy he’s playing with.

I continue to be amazed that most often he can hold it together and stay patient and calm when Hannah is driving him crazy and trying to steal his toys. The moments when he comes up and tickles her, makes her laugh or helps her absolutely melt my heart. I’m so excited about the sibling dynamic and I coach him a lot about how to help Hannah and teach her how to do things and how to talk to her or give her a different toy to play with when she wants to play with what he has. Sometimes I’ll catch him say “Hannah, you’re still learning! I know it’s frustrating!” and gosh that makes me feel like I’m doing something right!

One of Ben’s biggest recent accomplishments is that he has become potty trained! It was a long road getting to that point and we are so proud of him for figuring it out. We spent 8 months trying to rely on intrinsic motivators with limited success and honestly within the first few days of using gummy bears as a motivator he nailed it. We haven’t started tackling overnight potty training but recently Ben has started to protest wearing a diaper at night so I think we’re probably close…

The other day I asked Ben if he could help me and he stared blankly at me and said “No, I can’t. I’m too busy standing here.” There are days when I swear he’s training to be a stand-up comedian with a dry sense of humor – he keeps me on my toes with the things that come out of his mouth. He’s really starting to understand one-liners and more mature responses. “Yeah right, I don’t think so!”

Favorite phrases:

  • “what the heck?”
  • “what’s going on with….?”
  • “I sure can!”
  • “No. I can’t.”

Ben is becoming so independent. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to let him do things on his own since I’m so accustomed to doing them for him or for Hannah. Recently Ben has started to say “please don’t” when we’re providing help unnecessarily. Just the other day he unwrapped a little Babybel package of cheese completely on his own from start to finish, and the day before that he grabbed a little cup and filled it up with water from a big Gatorade water jug at a mountain resort after a hike. These little reminders keep me in check with how big he’s becoming.

{Practicing getting dressed on his own}

Somewhere around 2 1/2 we noticed how dang observant Ben is – holy cow, the things he notices are shocking sometimes. While on a walk he noticed a Tesla and asked how you open the doors because the handles were different. Ben is very detail-oriented and he appreciates things in order, always knows where things belong and, not surprisingly, appreciates some predictability and routine.

We have absolutely entered the “why?” phase and I LOVE it. Sometimes I’m at a loss for words as to how to explain why something is the way it is and it makes me really have to think. It is so much fun seeing how curious he is and hearing him engage in something enough to ask questions. Sometimes Ben will ask me to “say that again” I think because he is cataloging it in his little brain. His memory also blows me away – some of the experiences or minute details he can recall are so surprising for someone so little.

Ben is about to finish out his first year of preschool {he already finished co-op}. It’s been a big deal having him comfortable being dropped off at school without us, after having spent nearly his first two and a half years at home during the day. Ben loved his two schools and has made some really nice friends and become a part of two sweet communities. It brings me so much joy hearing him talk about his friends from school.

From preschool to gymnastics to swimming lessons to riding his balance bike, Ben has been working really hard at becoming a big, independent kid. He’s had such a confidence boost recently and seems to be starting to figure out who he is.

It’s been so heartwarming to see the transformation from playing alongside other kids to playing with them. This really has started happening over the last three months or so. Occasionally at the park he’ll go up to some other kids and they’ll play together – he’s usually comfortable going up, unprompted, and introducing himself to them. He seems to prefer to play by himself most days at the park. He loves push around the dump trucks or ride his bike. He loves the days when I coordinate with his friend Olive’s mama and Olive can come ride her scooter with Ben.

Ben loves his new big boy room – he even calls it “my big boy room.” The transition to his new room and bed has {so far} been much easier than I expected. I think that’s also been a big confidence boost for him to have that space that is *just* his. He also had the opportunity to weigh in on the room – he helped pick some of the decor and the furniture and it seems like he appreciated that we went with a car theme for his bedroom.

I could go on for a really long time about what Ben is up to these days. He is a ball of fun and energy and he’s just an all-around great kid. Three hit him like a ton of bricks – we’ve seen so many changes in the last week or two and it’s been really fun to see the development.  Ben is acting like such a big kid these days. I am so excited for summer with a three-year old!

Ben is Two

Ben is One

Ben’s Birth Story

Ben’s Third Birthday Celebration

As with most birthdays in our family, Ben’s celebration lasted several days. This year we decided to introduce him to the concept of a friends birthday party – previously we had only had family birthdays.

Ben’s birthday celebration kicked off on Thursday, the day before his actual birthday. He got to celebrate at school with his friends. When asked what special treat he wanted to bring he picked the Late July cheese sandwich crackers. That is totally Ben – crackers are undeniably his favorite food.

Friday was Ben’s actual birthday. We decorated the house a bit for Ben and had him open up his family gifts right away that morning. Alex’s and my gift to Ben was a scooter, which is what he had been asking for.

I took Ben and Hannah to the zoo that morning, then after nap time we went to Madison Park to test out the new scooter. He’s a natural! All it took was one lap around and he had basically mastered it. He had an absolute BLAST. Alex met us at the park and then we had dinner at Cactus, Ben’s favorite restaurant, before heading back to the park for some more scootering.

On Sunday we had Ben’s birthday party! It was so much fun – he had a camping-themed party and invited all of his buddies from his two schools. We asked his friends to bring their favorite set of wheels, so Ben got to scoot around with his pals. He and his friend Olive love to toot around together and a few other friends joined in. He and Olive are quite the pair – they are on the same page energy-wise and they have so much fun together.

I just loved celebrating this sweet boy and all of his accomplishments in his three short years. Alex and I are over the moon about this kid and we were so delighted to have such a lovely celebration for Ben.

Happy 3rd Birthday Ben!

Today is Ben’s third birthday! We are so excited to be celebrating our three-year old this weekend. He is such a joy and it has been so fun watching him turn into such a big kid lately. I’ll do a big post about what’s going on with Ben after his 3-year well child checkup so I can include his up-to-date measurements. For now, I’m sending my sweet boy some big birthday hugs! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Ben in his fourth year.

Here are some of my favorite photos that tell the story of Ben’s first three years:

{Ben was born at 33 weeks 2 days and weighed 3 pounds 3 ounces. He was so tiny I could stick him down my shirt for Kangaroo Care while he was in the NICU.}

{One of the best moments of his life was when we took Ben home from the NICU after 26 days!}

{Six months in and Ben was sitting up on his own, eating all of the food and was showing us signs of his sweet, fun demeanor.}

{Ben has always been very physical and has excelled in gross motor skills. We noticed from a very early age that he would continuously practice new skills as a way to perfect them.}

{This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of Ben. It captures his sweet smile and joy. He’s always been such a happy kid!}

{We joke that Ben never learned to walk – he just learned to run. Honestly…}

{So dang cute!}

{Ben asked Alex to take a picture with him – Ben was 21 months here and his little personality was really starting to emerge on our family trip to Arizona.}

{This kid is an adrenaline junkie!}

{So full of giggles and this kid loves his milk. Gosh, his laugh is the best.}

{One of my favorites. Mr. Ben is the best big brother – even from the very beginning. He melts my heart how stinking sweet he is with his baby sister. It’s every mama’s dream.}

{We love our coffee dates!}

{We are so proud of this kid and his love for riding his bike. He has been working so hard to learn this skill.}

{Ben can be so, so serious and so carefree and entertaining. His personality tows both ends of the spectrum really nicely.}

{2 1/2 was a freaking blast. Ben in the snow as a 2.5 year old was basically the best thing ever. Watching the pure joy and enjoyment of him playing in the snow was a highlight of my life.}

{2 1/2 and skiing independently – gosh, this kid!}

{One of my favorites – these two melt my heart. I love when Ben comes and lies down and plays with his sister. They are the sweetest!}

{Such a cool kid!}

{In the middle of our photo shoot Ben launched himself off of the ottoman, being true to form. Our amazing photographer captured it, along with his shadow, in the most perfect and natural way. This is Ben.}

{This is also Ben. One of the other moms at our preschool calls him a rocket!}

{This kid. He couldn’t be more amazing if he tried! Happy birthday, buddy!}

Ben’s New Bedroom

We made it a whole three months with Ben and Hannah sharing a room. It just wasn’t working – no one was sleeping well and it was causing unnecessarily early wake ups in the morning so we decided to separate the kids and give them both their own rooms.

Now that we no longer have live-in childcare our guest room goes largely unused. It’s a funny long and skinny space, but it’s cozy and it makes for a great bedroom for an almost three-year old.

Alex worked really hard to pull this room together and make it special for Ben. Naturally, we opted for a car-themed bedroom. Alex painted the walls, built the cool shelves behind Ben’s bed, assembled all of the furniture and hung the curtains and frames. The furniture looks black in photos but it’s actually navy blue. We still need to decide what we’re going to do for toy storage so the room isn’t quite 100% complete, but it’ll do for now.

We’re about 10 days into Ben’s new “big kid” bedroom and he loves it! He’s so proud to have his own space and a big boy bed.

At the time of the move downstairs we re-instituted the “green light” policy where Ben has to stay in his room until his light turns green. This had been forgotten and he was waking for the day around 5 a.m. so we clearly needed a re-set. I’m happy to report that so far we’re on the right track. This week Ben has been waking up a little early, coming upstairs to get a snack and then going back down to his bed to read his new big kid books. He’s really comfortable in his new space and now both kids are sleeping better.

 

Hannah is Ten Months Old!

In her tenth month, Hannah went through some major developmental milestones and has come out the other side officially as a mover! Now that she’s finally mostly healthy after a brutal cold/flu season she’s becoming an independent, on-the-go baby who is showing signs she is getting ready to turn into a toddler.

Hannah’s stats:

  • Weight: heavy!
  • Length: not sure!
  • Clothing size: 6-12 month or 12-18 month
  • Number of teeth: 0, though I can see at least two on their way up
  • Eye color: bluish turquoise – it totally depends on the light and her surroundings
  • Words: dada
  • Favorite foods: cheese, strawberries, smoothies, ham, bananas, bread
  • Least favorite foods: jalepeno

Hannah had a rough bout of all of the viruses this cold and flu season and has a fresh runny nose right now. I noticed during the last two months how much that was affecting her sleep and her disposition and now I’m happy to report she’s back to her normal chipper self, even with the runny nose! It also seemed like her health was working against her interest or ability to hit some developmental milestones.

Within the first two days of finally not being sick, last week she figured out crawling and pulling herself up to stand and both of those days she slept through the night for the first time in a while. These little babes sure do have a lot going on in their little bodies.

Hannah has been mobile for quite a while, she just wasn’t formally crawling. Now that she has figured out she can crawl all over the house and get Ben’s toys or come climb all over Jackson she is enamored with life. This last week has been nuts chasing her around but it’s been SO fun. She’s having a blast with this newfound skill of hers.

Last week we transitioned Hannah to a big kid car seat. It can also be used for infants, so it’s really not a big deal, it’s just significantly more plush and comfy. I’m not sure if the timing of this happened to coincide with her feeling better or if she’s just that much happier in the new car seat but I saw a significant difference in her disposition in the car after the switch.

{These two in their big car seats!!!!}

Hannah is extremely loud! She has an opinion and she’s not afraid to share it – her squeals of excitement or the enthusiastic full body wiggles when she sees food she likes are a day brightener, and then there’s the times when I swear she’s going to make me go deaf by expressing her displeasure in something, usually getting a non-baby toy taken away from her or getting laid down on the changing table. Or any time in the car {before her new car seat}.

This girl has a very big personality – and she has to in order to keep herself in the spotlight with her big brother. That said, she is very calm and easy-going. Hannah is becoming more independent and has been enjoying exploring on the floor on her own lately.

We’ve had some big changes this last month relating to sleep and eating. Hannah is really starting to transition to getting more calories from solid food as opposed to breast milk. We are down to nursing only 3 or maybe 4 times a day now and she really is showing less interest in nursing to sleep.

Speaking of sleep – Hannah had been pretty under the weather for a solid two months or so and her sleep was significantly impacted as a result. Since feeling better, her brother has moved into his own room and she’s been sleeping so well again! Hurrah! Our next mission is to get her to put herself to sleep… please wish us luck!

There are a lot of things that Hannah loves to do. Here are a few of her favorite things:

  • Eating!
  • Taking her brothers toys
  • Grabbing Jackson’s tail
  • Exploring
  • Reading books
  • The song Skina marinka dink
  • Bath time
  • Being included
  • When her big brother does anything even remotely funny

We are rounding the corner to this sweet baby’s first birthday in two short months. I’m so enjoying these days with Hannah Maxine. She has been the happiest, most content baby I’ve known. I adore her personality and her spunk. I can’t wait to see how she changes in her eleventh month.

Ben as a ten month old

Lodge Life: Swing Set & Projects

Life at The Lodge has been filled with sunshine, family, lots of progress on outdoor progress and so much joy and dreaming of what’s to come.

The weather this spring has been absolutely perfect with sun just about every day and each day being warmer than the previous. We’re gearing up for the summer heat and preparing for wildfire season. Yes, the threat of wildfires is very, very real out there!

Alex’s parents have been staying at The Lodge since late April and they have been busy taking care of several outdoor projects. They’ve made tremendous progress on the property and have been coordinating appointments, deliveries and vendors. It’s been so nice having them there! More on that in another post.

Recently, my dad and brother flew out from Minnesota to build Ben and Hannah their very own swing set! I have such fond memories playing in my yard on the swing set my dad built me when I was a child and I wanted him to be a part of creating those memories for my children. It was an added bonus to have Uncle John come out and help too.

I knew my dad and John would be the right guys for the job, being that they’re both builders, – they got the whole swing set put together in a little over half a day. Needless to say, Ben and Hannah already love it and the memories are starting to be made.

{Climbing structure marks the spot!}

We opted to purchase a swing set kit and here is the one we chose. So far, I’m very happy with our choice. We added monkey bars and a bucket swing for our littles. There was a lot of angst around the shipping of this swing set and we were on pins and needles the whole week leading up to it – we were uncertain whether it would make it in time. It turns out, it did not! My dad and brother flew in very early from Minnesota, rented a pickup truck, drove 2.5 hours southeast of the Seattle airport to Yakima, picked up the swing set at UPS, then drove another 2 hours northwest to Leavenworth. Whew!

{Wood chips complete the swing set! It’s a nice thick base to make for soft landings.}

There will always be a project list at The Lodge, but it’s been so wonderful to feel like we’re accomplishing things. We truly wouldn’t be able to get these things done without our family, so we’re extremely grateful for their help. Thank you!!!

{Ben absolutely adores his two grandfathers!}

Lodge Life: Spring is Here!

Spring is in full force out at The Lodge and it’s been really fun watching the seasons transition and the snow melt away. We have little yellow avalanche lilies blooming in the forest in our yard and some tree sparrows building a nest just outside of our dining room table. All of the trees have little fresh bright green leaves starting to pop out signaling the new season. The rivers are roaring with all the snow melting and it really feels like spring out in the Cascades.

We’re learning all sorts of fun things in our new setting – there are lots of new bugs and birds, everyone has a truck, everyone has a tractor, the sun feels SO much warmer out there, it gets really dark in the mountains at night and it’s rather pleasant to have a rooster across the street. So far we’ve met quite a few of our neighbors and unsurprisingly, I’ve become a “local” and am proudly known by name at the coffee shop and the hot dog stand.

It’s been about 10 weeks since we moved in and we’ve spent all but two weekends up there, which is what we had hoped for. When we are at The Lodge our life slows down tremendously. We can relax, focus on our little family and embrace our surroundings.

Hiking is something Alex and I have grown quite fond of since moving to Washington. We kicked off the start of spring with a couple of local hikes we hadn’t done before.

There’s something about having a baby on my back that I just love. Hannah rode on my back in our little Ergo carrier and was content as could be.

We have a more real-deal hiking backpack for Ben, and we’ll eventually get a duplicate for Hannah. Both kids LOVE the hiking backpack – I think they enjoy being so high up.

I’m already building up a memory bank of moments I hope I never forget. This is what we’ve been dreaming about for most of our adult life. I feel like all of us are in our element out in the mountains.

Alex will wake up early with me so we can sit and have coffee together and get a few minutes before inevitably one of our littles wakes up. Both of them are typically up by 6, soooooo yeah.

Ben has been impressing me lately with his confidence and work ethic around mastering the art of the balance bike. He blew people away at the Leavenworth Pump Track when he would cruise the hilly bike track alongside big kids and adults.

Another favorite memory I have, though it ended with one of the most difficult parenting evenings ever, is of going for a walk on our quiet mountain street while Ben rode his bike alongside me. He was so excited, such a good listener and so proud. He waved at the neighbors, we stopped to see Dan the horse, and he made sure I was safe when cars would pass. It was lovely.

Alex and I love sitting on the deck watching Ben play with his excavator, climb on his climbing structure or throw the ball for Jackson. I’m so excited to see what memories we make there with Hannah, too, as she grows up there.

I have a bucket list going for things I’d like to do out in Leavenworth/the area this summer. Alex and I can’t wait to spend more time out there exploring. Here are a few things on my bucket list:

  • Go stand up paddle boarding in Lake Wenatchee
  • Hike a new trail
  • Swim in the town pool
  • Have a picnic in a picture-perfect spot down by the river
  • Visit Plain Cellars, a winery just down the street from us
  • Do a family 5K or 10K {need to find one!}
  • Do a half marathon {signed up for one in October!}

For now, we have much to look forward to this spring – Alex’s parents are here for the next month and we’re all excited to have more Grammy and Papa time. My dad and brother are heading out in a few weeks to help us build a playground for the kids, which of course will be SO fun. The memories and our life out here are really starting to take shape.

Hannah is Nine Months Old!

What a big month for baby Hannah this has been! Hannah has hit so many fun developmental milestones during this last month. She loves playtime, especially if her brother or her dog shows an interest in her.

Hannah’s stats:

  • Weight: 20 pounds 9 ounces {84th percentile}
  • Length: 27.5 inches {40th percentile}
  • Clothing size: 6-12 month or 12-18 month
  • Number of teeth: 0
  • Eye color: bluish turquoise – they’re pretty striking. Her doctor said they’ll stay!
  • Words: dada
  • Favorite foods: mac & cheese!, banana, smoothies, cheese, broccoli!, carrots, raspberries!, pancakes… basically anything we give her….
  • Least favorite foods: jalepeno

One of my favorite things that happened during the last month has been that Hannah has started to feed herself. Watching a baby learn how to feed herself is one of my favorite parts of parenting an infant.

Hannah loves to eat whatever we’re eating and I love to share with her. I can tell she’s really proud of herself too. She has been working on her fine motor skills with picking up little bits of food I put on the tray of her high chair. Her accuracy rate is pretty high for getting the food in her mouth, though holy cow, we have to deep clean the high chair almost daily right now!

In big body movements Hannah has made tremendous growth over the last month. She is rolling and scooting and pivoting all over the house – part of me thinks she’ll skip crawling and go right to walking. I feel like she can get to whatever she wants so she doesn’t really think about a more efficient movement? We’ll see!

Just last week she started pulling herself up to kneel, all by herself, and she’s started pushing herself up into a sit, all by herself. I love watching the day-to-day progressions she’s making. It’s remarkable how much strength she can gain in a day.

Over the last month or six weeks I have been saying Hannah had been at the age of frustration. She just couldn’t quite get to what she wanted or do what she wanted. I sort of think that’s over {at least for now!}. She seems more content and while she hasn’t figured out crawling she can get herself across a room just fine.

One of Hannah’s favorite activities is reading books. I feel like I’m constantly reading to her and if she’s ever upset all I need to do is pull out a book. She especially likes the touch & feel books that are more interactive for babies.

One of Hannah’s least favorite activities is being in her car seat. There are some days during the week where I feel like we’re constantly on-the-go and those are her least favorite days, understandably. I try to balance the car time with lots of floor playtime for Hannah whenever I can during those days.

{I can’t believe HOW BIG she is in her car seat! And obviously I buckle her in…}

We’re in a funky sleep pattern right now. The only predictable part of Hannah’s sleep is that it’s unpredictable. I’d say at least 6 out of 7 nights a week she stays asleep during the times I am asleep; however, it’s been common lately for her to wake up several times between when I put her down and when I go to sleep. I have a feeling all of the major development going on with her {plus the fact that she’s been sick for more than 5 weeks} is just messing with her sleep. Is cold and flu season over yet!?

Hannah is still nursing to sleep at night and for most naps that happen in her crib. Until recently I haven’t cared much to change that habit – we’ve both really enjoyed our run with nursing. Now that Hannah is older she is getting SO distracted while eating and it’s become really difficult to fall asleep at night while nursing. Not to mention it makes it hard impossible for anyone else to put her to sleep. So that’s on the docket for the nearish future to work on changing.

One of my favorite parts about nine month-old Hannah is how LOUD she is! Her brother has always been noisy and it seems like Hannah tries to go a little louder to keep up with him. She squeals and shrieks and screams in the best way. Her smiles are full body wiggles from her toes all the way up to her head. She’s just the sweetest.

A couple weeks ago Hannah and I started attending a music class together. She has a BLAST. Not only does she love the music, she loves seeing the big kids. It’s so fun to have a mama and Hannah activity we can do together. She also loves attending co-op with Ben – they do music at co-op once a month, too, and it’s a hit with Miss Hannah.

Some other fun facts about Hannah are: she can wave, she gets SO excited when she figures out it’s bath time, she can bang two blocks or drumsticks together, and she adores her dog!

I’m so excited to see what is up ahead in the next month for Hannah. We’ll see if she ever starts crawling or just jumps ahead to walking.

Ben as a nine month old