2018 Recap…A Year in Review

The theme of 2018 for our family has been “change.” We had one big change after another all year long and they’re still coming at us hard. While it’s been overwhelming at times, we’ve weathered the changes just fine and have had such a special year. This is also the year we really felt like we were a real deal family now that we have two kids.

The year started out with the loathsome first trimester of my pregnancy with Hannah in combination with the arrival of our au pair, who didn’t end up working out. During this time Alex was interviewing for a new job, a process that is grueling to say the least. I had almost daily migraines because I was so stressed out about our undesirable childcare situation.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the first portion of 2018, other than the challenges that went along with it.

The sun came out for us, both literally and figuratively, when we took a much needed family-of-three vacation to Arizona. It was undeniably a highlight of the year. We loved taking Ben swimming and watching the pure joy on his face when he’d jump in the pool over and over and over. He ate a 1/2 pound hot dog all on his own and shared a {virgin} strawberry daquiri with me. Just after we returned from Arizona, Alex started his new job and we switched au pairs.

Throughout the winter and spring Ben continued to go to his co-op preschool, which we all loved. We made wonderful friends from the preschool and I felt a comforting sense of community. It’s always nice to bump into friends from the co-op around town or at the park.

We spent the winter designing our mountain house in Leavenworth and broke ground ahead of schedule in April. The process has overall been wonderful. We are so pleased with our builder and the trades who have been building the house. We’ve taken as many trips out to the Lodge as we possibly can this year.

Ben turned two at the end of May and we invited his grandparents out to Leavenworth. It was fun to stay next door to our house and get to see the framing start to take shape.

Toddlerhood was another theme of our 2018. Alex and I have taken the positivity approach in parenting our toddler. While it is unbelievably challenging at times it is SO much fun. We love two! We are so enamored every day by the things that come out of our two-year old’s mouth, the associations he makes, how quickly he figures things out and his unbelievable vocabulary and ability to have a conversation. Raising a child from birth is undeniably the most magnificent learning opportunity.

The start of summer was also a bit of a blur for me. I was super pregnant and rather uncomfortable {as I was for most of the pregnancy} and trying to wrap up all of my work before the baby arrived.

As a birthday gift, Ben received some outdoor toys for our backyard and we loved watching him play independently outside at home, which was new for us. Every time he played outside in our postage stamp backyard in Seattle we’d envision him running and playing on our 3-acre property out in the mountains.

Soon after Ben’s second birthday we embarked on the unexpectedly long journey that is potty training. The latest rage with potty training books tells you that miraculously, even if you have a boy, he’ll magically be potty trained in three days with eight easy steps! So not the case! Why does everyone rave about this!? {They all have girls, that is why.} We’re very close to calling Ben potty trained during the day, but it’s been a life altering work in progress for the last seven months.

We managed to make several trips out to The Lodge over the summer, including one camping trip. My brother and his girlfriend came out to the Pacific Northwest/British Columbia and ended up meeting us out at Lake Wenatchee State Park to come camping with us. I have delightful memories from this two-night trip turned one-night; however it was extremely challenging going camping with a very active two-year old and being pregnant. While it was so, so wonderful I’m not in a hurry to do it again.

Hannah arrived just two weeks after our camping trip. It had been an extraordinarily busy week – I helped put on my organization’s annual golf tournament on Thursday, then Alex and I had an exhausting all afternoon affair at The Lodge with our electrician, and Saturday I spent nesting, thankfully, before my water broke that night while Alex was at a bachelor party.

Truly from the moment she was born she brought a calming sense to our family. Alex and I were overjoyed to meet our baby girl. It felt like Ben grew up overnight when Hannah was born. He had been promoted to big brother and knew just what to do. Some of my favorite moments from the year are the sweet sibling moments that I often witness. Ben and Hannah adore each other. While Ben occasionally gets jealous of Hannah’s attention he innately knows not to take it out on her. Instead, he’ll ask us to put Hannah down so he can have our attention instead. Lately, five months in, Ben is darn near the only person who can make Hannah giggle. She is already looking up to her big brother.

My maternity leave was a blessing in so many ways. My time with Hannah was so precious. I loved our daily walks and getting out and showing off my sweet baby girl. Hannah has been a dream of a baby and we are smitten.

All four of Ben and Hannah’s grandparents came out to meet their first granddaughter during my maternity leave.

I ended up spending several weeks of my maternity leave sorting through the profiles of hundreds of au pairs from around the world. Just four days before Hannah was born, Stacey, our au pair at the time, told us that she was, in fact, not going to stay on with our family another year. She had gone back and forth on extending her time with us for a while so it didn’t come as a complete shock. Stacey finished out her contract with us and went back to England in late November. Finding a new au pair was a time consuming, competitive and overwhelming process and in the end, we decided to contract with Stacey’s cousin, Anna, as our next au pair. She just arrived from England at the end of December.

In the midst of my maternity leave, Ben started Spanish immersion preschool at a spot near our house. We were delighted to be able to have him immersed in Spanish language from the early age of two. Unfortunately the school didn’t end up working out for us. I quickly scrambled and pulled together a backup plan.

In early October Ben started preschool for the second time – his Monday through Thursday is split between the same co-op he was at the previous school year and a different preschool. He was instantly comfortable and fell right back into his groove at the co-op with his old teacher.

Alex and I have loved the emotion coaching he has received, the music classes that enrich his school day and the time he’s spending away from his family as he’s getting closer and closer to kindergarten. He is developing so rapidly and comes home with new vocabulary and has really started to talk about and regulate his feelings.

Throughout the course of the summer and fall Alex and I made numerous trips out to The Lodge to make decisions or see the progress of our house. Occasionally we brought both kids with us and made a day out of it. We have so many wonderful memories from some of those day trips and we are all the more excited for our house to be finished just after the new year.

One of the on-going themes of our year has been a challenge with childcare. This was exacerbated during the holiday season as we said good bye to our second au pair, Stacey, and had a three-week lapse before Anna, our brand new au pair arrived a couple days ago. I got to play “stay-at-home-mom” for a few weeks and enjoyed a lot of quality time with the kiddos.

The holiday season this year was extra special with our little ones. Ben seemed to mostly understand the concept of Santa. Our Christmas holiday was spent in the snowy mountains surrounded by Alex’s family. We made so many new memories this season.

We are closing out 2018 together as a family of four plus our new au pair, Anna. Alex and I are giddy with anticipation and can hardly wait to move into our mountain house. We have no idea how it will change our lives this year and forever – we just know it will. Cheers to bidding adieu to a busy, chaotic and mementos 2018 and welcoming 2019 – a year I hope brings so much time with family and friends and making new memories and traditions.

Looking back…