Author Archives: Alison Allen

Thanksgiving 2019

The holidays are in full-swing over here. We had such a memorable Thanksgiving – our first at The Lodge – and enjoyed kicking off the holiday season in the mountains. We have so much to look forward to this first winter in the mountains.

{Alex’s parents and my mom came for part of our Thanksgiving week.}

{Our first project of our 10-day trip to The Lodge was stock up on firewood! This is what a half a cord of firewood looks like.}

{Needless to say, we had a roaring fire all weekend long and worked very hard to deplete our firewood supply. It felt so, so cozy inside the house!}

{It was rather disappointing to find there was no snow on the ground. We made do and enjoyed the frosty mornings instead. The weather was cold and clear most of the time.}

{We had a few days just the four of us before everyone arrived. It was fun to have some family time and we enjoyed exploring a bit.}

{Whew! Hannah is finally getting to a point where she’s able to go down the stairs safely by herself. We have four flights of hardwood stairs in the house, so it’s a bit nerve wracking with the little ones.}

{Thanksgiving arrived and, per our tradition, we started the day with a Turkey Trot. There was a dusting of fresh snow and it was COLD.}

{The Turkey Trot was unanimously the highlight of the day for the adults who ran it.}

{There’s just something about starting a holiday dedicated to gratitude and eating with a 5K.}

{I had so much fun putting together this charcuterie board. It tasted great and my kids loved it too!}

{We had a pretty traditional Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, rolls, fruit, pumpkin pie… I love cooking Thanksgiving. I think I may switch up some of the recipes/methods for next year though, just to add a little variety.}

{Friday afternoon we headed to town for Leavenworth’s annual Christmas Market.}

{The highlight of the Christmas Market for me was the mini donuts. Yes, I absolutely had a full dozen all by myself and no, I had no regrets.}

{The Leavenworth Christmas lights are truly magical!}

{Surprisingly one of the highlights for me was our trip to the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. It was SO neat. I loved being up close to the reindeer and learning more about them. Hannah seemed into it but Ben would have rather watched from afar.}

{The grandparents offered to watch the kids so Alex and I could have some much needed time together on Saturday afternoon. We tried a new restaurant, got more mini donuts and took a stroll down by the river.}

{Our last big activity was a jaunt over to Lake Wenatchee.}

{We built a campfire and roasted s’mores and enjoyed the dreary day amidst nature’s beautiful backdrop.}

{Finally! On our last night we got the teeniest tiniest amount of snow!}

{It was enough for the kids to bring out their sleds and play around.}

{We took a walk through the forest on our property and decided to cut down one of our very own trees to use as our Christmas tree this year. Stay tuned!}

{These two littles adore their grandparents!}

{Our trip ended like this… Jackson got to ride in my new car for the first time. Look at all of the space he has (there is a full-size suitcase behind him!)!!! He’s always sad to leave The Lodge.}

Our first Thanksgiving at The Lodge was a very special one indeed. We’re so, so grateful to have a home in the mountains that allows us a retreat with our family and friends.

Ben is 3 1/2!

More and more each day this sweet boy is becoming a big kid. He’s growing so tall and he’s so confident and so articulate. Sometimes I’m taken aback by how big he seems. We’re having such a blast with so much about three and love the boy Ben is turning into.

Ben’s stats:

  • Weight: about 31 pounds {as of about a month ago}
  • Height: over 40 inches {75th++ percentile!!!}
  • Clothing size: mostly still 3T except 4T in PJs and some tops
  • Shoe size: size 8 toddler
  • Favorite foods: crackers, pasta, any type of cheese, yogurt, smoothies, cottage cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, most meats – especially slow cooked, roasted chickpeas
  • Favorite activities: make believing, pushing his cars/trucks around, lining his cars up, doing puzzles, listening to music, playing outside, riding his bike, reading books together or looking at books independently

As a 3 1/2 year old Ben is still super sweet. Sometimes I find my heart swelling because of his sweetness. He is a world class cuddler and loves to get cozy on the couch with his stuffies and a blanket. He is so thoughtful, typically quick to apologize or check on someone and so genuine in his random notions of appreciation. “Thank you for building this house for our family, dada!”

One of my favorite moments with Ben this last quarter was taking him for a bike ride while I ran around the 2.2 mile loop at Seward Park. Seward Park is a peninsula that juts out into Lake Washington. The day of our activity was very chilly but it was a picture-perfect fall day. Ben kept stopping every 25 feet, it felt like, either to wait for me or to take in his surroundings. He kept pointing things out and saying “look, mama! It’s so beautiful!” Ben sure loves nature and he is extremely observant.

Ben started a new preschool this quarter and I’ve seen some remarkable growth in his independence and willingness to help and take on responsibility. Ben loves being in charge of feeding Jackson, especially at the mountain house. He’s careful to properly measure Jackson’s food for him and also loves to throw Jackson’s ball. Ben has been very interested in selecting and serving himself a snack and pouring anything he can get his hands on.

Fairly recently Ben figured out how to ride his pedal bike. This was an unexpected challenge for us all. It took a lot of practice and ultimately finding a tricycle at the park helped him put the pieces together. He’s definitely ready for the training wheels to come off, but now that winter is coming we have decided to hold off on that {we’re keeping that bike at our mountain house}.

Ben has so much confidence on his balance bike. He’s been going back and forth between his two bikes and it’s so impressive watching him at the pump track as a little 3-year old skirting past the big kids and flying over the little hills. Parents and older kids are quick to comment how comfortable he is there.

Very recently Ben had the opportunity to try skateboarding. He was very insistent upon giving it a shot and he loved it!

Puzzles, playing games and looking at books have become big parts of Ben’s life these days. He loves to sit down on the floor and put together a puzzle all by himself. We’ve really gotten into some games, particularly at the mountain house, and Ben loves to play Sequence for Kids.

This fall Ben had his first experience with soccer. I signed him up for a soccer program for 3-5 year olds at the park in our neighborhood. It was adorable but in my experience and in talking to the other parents it seems like 4-5 would be a more appropriate age. Ben had a very difficult time becoming engaged in the drills the coach put together. He absolutely LOVES to kick the soccer ball, and he’s really good at it, but when it came time to listen and follow directions he was off doing his own thing. We’ll try again next year…

As a 3-1/2 year old Ben is very inquisitive, observant and curious about his surroundings. He’s such a terrific car rider because he loves to look out the window and take it all in. He is now typically awake for most of our drive through the mountains and he does so well entertaining himself with his surroundings or reading a book in his car seat.

Ben asks a lot of questions and makes a lot of connections. He comes up with the sweetest things to say, like “mama, I think I want to bring Elephant with me just in case I need something to hold” when he was getting ready to go to the park with a babysitter. Or “dada, you look great!” It makes me smile every time he says something is “great!” – his typical response to our inquiries about how he slept or how his day at school was.

Ben’s teacher at school mentioned he is one of the happiest kids in the class. She found it fascinating and sweet that he regularly comments on how beautiful the day is or that it’s so nice the sun is shining. He has a very positive attitude. It is rare to hear him complain about anything.

The challenges we see Ben facing these days are fairly minimal. He is quite a sensitive kid and he feels his emotions very strongly. Depending on his mood, this can be tough and he can have a harder time calming down when upset. He also is very compassionate and empathetic. When we came upon a homeless person one day {I had always wondered when he’d start to ask…} and I told him about homelessness his response was “that is so terrible! Can we go say hello to him?”

Lately Ben’s friendships are starting to really take shape. He will talk more and more about friends and he has started asking to have friends over. At the park he loves to ride bikes with friends and it seems like that’s a really great tool for him to connect with other kids.

We’ve had a lot of friends come to stay with us at The Lodge and most/all of them have kids near Ben’s age. It was especially fun seeing him with Liam, the only other boy who came up, who is slightly older than Ben. Those two hit it off and had a blast running around, riding bikes and playing cars together. For whatever reason he seems to gravitate towards girls, but he relates to and plays better with slightly older boys.

As we officially round the corner towards four I’m so curious what this next quarter will look like – what will the major developmental milestones be? What challenges will come with it? What is on the horizon for Mr. Ben? All good things I expect.

Ali’s Favorite Things 2019

Back by request {!} I put together a list of some of my favorite things! At the bottom I kept a few tried and true items you may have seen on previous lists, as well as links to past favorites.

Clothes

Eddie Bauer Pajamas – I LOVE their jammies! I have several pairs of the flannel bottoms and new for me this year was the legging-style bottoms.

Cozy socks – another Eddie Bauer find {!!} and these are the best I’ve had yet! They’re the best. I think I have seven pairs!

North Face Thermoball Parka – I just love this coat! I haven’t tried it in super cold weather yet {below freezing} but it sure keeps me toasty in 30-40 degree temps. I love how it fits and the how lightweight it is. I have it in white.

Zella 7/8 pocket leggings – the latest Zella leggings always seem to end up on my favorite list. I am so brand loyal to Zella leggings because they are the best! These leggings have little pockets on the side which are so handy.

Beauty & Personal

Acure Brightening Face Cleansing Gel – admittedly this is a weird one. This face wash is less than $6 but it’s one of the only face washes I’ve used that I’ve actually noticed a difference in how my skin looks. It is exfoliating and has actually made my skin look more radiant.

I use this weekender bag all the time and I love it. It’s the perfect size for a weekend away.

Meal planning is something I make an effort to do on a weekly basis. I’ve been using this menu planner for years and it works really well for me.

Technology

Apple Air Pods – these are all over the place now but I was skeptical at first. These wireless headphones are a game changer.

Home

Throw blanket – last Eddie Bauer link, and this one’s a good one. We have several of these cozy blankets at The Lodge and I just bought another one for our house in Seattle. They are SO soft.

Mochamaster Coffee Maker – this is an America’s Test Kitchen recommendation year over year and I can now see why. This is the coffee maker we have at The Lodge and it makes the BEST coffee. Even better, the carafe keeps coffee truly hot for hours!

Books

Mrs Everything – one of my all-time favorites. I listened to this on Audible and loved the story of Jo and Bethie coming of age in the 60s and 70s and how their lives transformed.

Where the Crawdads Sing – this book hooked me from the start and I could not put it down!

Longtime Favorites

Lalicious body scrub – this body scrub is a luxurious treat and I’m happy to indulge my feet every time I shower. There are several scents to choose from. I just love how this scrub makes my skin, particularly my feet, feel.

Athleta Pranayana Wrap – if I could just wear this all the time that would be great! It is so soft and so cozy. I’d love one in every color! It’s perfect for lounging, a cool-weather walk, casual daytime look or going to the gym.

Daily Organizer Notepad – I’ve been using these for years and years and I love how they help me plan my day.

2018 Favorites

2017 Favorites

2014 Favorites

Hannah is 16-Months Old

Hannah is 16-months old going on four. She is growing up so fast and figuring out all the things and doing all the things. Hannah’s personality is huge. She is a ball of fun and a barrel of energy. She brings the party with her wherever she goes. She’s loud and boisterous and so cuddly and loving – she is just plain fun to be around.

  • Weight:24 pounds 5 ounces {85th percentile – this is 2 weeks out of date}
  • Length: 31″ {75th percentile – this is two weeks out of date}
  • Clothing size: 18-24 months
  • Shoe size: toddler size 4
  • Number of teeth: eight! two new bottom teeth this month, and her first two molars just cut through.
  • Eye color: I’m calling them “alpine lake” – the most gorgeous greeny blue
  • Favorite foods: tangerines, pomegranate, smoothies, bananas, mangoes!!, crackers, cheese
  • Least favorite foods: beef, chicken
  • Favorite things/activities: playing with Ben, reading interactive books, playing with cars, taking things out of drawers or cupboards, waving at a dog passing by, going to the park, climbing, bath time, watching the garbage trucks, pushing her toy vacuum around
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, not getting what she wants

This month Hannah learned to run as well as how to open the front door at the mountain house in the same day. She mastered the art of opening all of the kitchen cabinets and pulling out as many things as she can possibly grab all before I can stop her. Hannah has earned the nickname “sticky fingers” this month. She just grabs hold of whatever she can get and holds on for dear life.

She’ll reach into Alex’s pocket and pull out his phone or wallet, she heaves herself forward in her high chair and grabs something off the dining room table, or when we’re at the library or store she’ll grab as many things off the shelf as she can. She used to be satisfied splashing in Jackson’s water bowl, but now she has graduated to getting a fistful of Jackson’s kibble and throwing it as far as she can, all while cackling and looking riiiiight at me. Her favorite, though, is amidst a diaper change she’ll fling herself to a seated position, grab a handful of clean diapers and throw them behind the dresser.

Hannah is a great communicator. She’ll shake her head for “no” or say “yeah” for yes. She knows where everything she wants is and she’ll help point it out. That said, her speech is very difficult to understand. She has a few words that are very clear, but everything else sounds like “dada” at this point. In the last few days she’s been working on repeating some new words and we’ve heard a few new consonants come out of her mouth recently.

Comprehension is something Hannah has really mastered already. She understands everything we say. At this point she’s really a terrific listener and follows directions with tremendous eagerness. She’s quite helpful, actually, and loves to pick up and put things where they belong.

On her own she will put her laundry in her hamper and throw away her yogurt after she’s done with it. She has had a couple of colds this last month and she can go and get a tissue, wipe her nose and throw the tissue away all on her own.

Being involved is very important to Hannah. She wants to be a helper when getting her shoes or socks on and she shows me which foot to take care of first, then second. She imitates diaper changes – she’ll reach over and grab a wipe and try to wipe herself amidst a diaper change {not always super helpful!!}, and if I’m holding her while putting on my makeup she has to have a makeup brush to use on her own face.

These days Hannah is the queen of mimicking. Anything Ben is doing Hannah wants to do. If he raises his arms, she raises her arms. If Ben wants to ride his bike, Hannah wants to ride his bike too.

Hannah is working very hard at figuring out how to be a kid and do all of the things. She is getting darn good at it, too! We’ve had a lot more success this last month with things like play dough, coloring and painting. Hannah has been very interested in exploring art and creativity. For the first time, not everything has gone in her mouth!

Sleep has been awesome the last month for Hannah. She is typically asleep by 7:15 or 7:30 and wakes for the day anywhere between 6:15-6:45 in the morning. She takes one long nap in the afternoon, anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours. If provided the opportunity, she will fall asleep in the morning if we’re in the car or on a run. Hannah falls asleep happily on her own, with us in the room for the most part, these days.

We adore our first-thing-in-the-morning Hannah. She’s so so so so so cuddly and loves to curl up in our laps and read books while she has her yogurt.

Recently Hannah has been very fearful of new people and in various settings. She has had a lot of separation anxiety when I’ve left her with babysitters. She is very clingy and really enjoys her time with mama and dada and has always been more reluctant to go to someone else.

This month Hannah started dancing. She LOVES to dance. I think her favorite song right now is “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel. She has the sweetest little dance bounce and it is precious!

Mealtimes in our house are often a challenge, especially at dinner. Hannah is very reluctant to eat most meat, aside from some pork products, and would happily survive only on fruit if given the chance. She does enjoy vegetables most nights quite a bit, too. She really is a terrific eater, though her preferences differ significantly from the rest of the family.

When Hannah is one-on-one with me {or Alex} she’s a different kid than when she’s around Ben. She’s much more calm and quiet and reasonable. I think she really appreciates her mama time and her dada time. She absolutely adores her big brother but he sure brings out her crazy!

Hannah is doing allllll the things right now. This is one of my absolute favorite ages and it’s a blast watching Hannah make the leap from baby to little kid.

Ben is 16 months old

Fall Family Photos 2019

We’re so grateful to our family photographer, Kim Hildebrand, for her talent and impressive abilities behind a camera. Kim shoots with film and we continue to be amazed by her knack for documenting our family perfectly, especially with a limited number of shots. Here are some of our favorites from our recent photo session:


 

Halloween 2019

Halloween has come and gone now, but I still wanted to share some pictures from the day. Both kids had a great time dressing up and going trick-or-treating.

Ben enjoyed a Halloween party at his school that day and got to dress up in his costume with his friends.

We had several last-minute costume changes this year from our three-year old. First, Ben wanted to be a dinosaur. Then he wanted to be a doggie, just like Hannah. Then, on Monday of Halloween week he changed his mind and wanted to be a “super alien” {an alien super hero} so we actually put a lot of time and thought into this costume and I ended up making the embelishments {thanks to Primary.com for the solid color clothing!}. Come Halloween morning Ben had no interest in wearing the adorable cape or the alien eyes I made, so he would have just gone to school in a green sweatshirt and green pants. Back to the doggie costume {I had a hunch I shouldn’t return it!}….

Both kids hated the dog head/ears but I managed to get Hannah to tolerate it for trick-or-treating. Ben’s came off after our picture. Maybe next year I’ll opt for a costume without a head piece…

Our area does a big neighborhood trick-or-treat in the downtown corridor of the business districts, as well as door-to-door in residential areas. We opted to do the Madison Park neighborhood trick-or-treat. Next year I’d like to do our block, too. I had some neighbors tell us they missed seeing us come around!

The candy experience this year was different now that Ben is three. I had seen a nutritionist mom on Instagram share how she deals with Halloween and her approach resonated with me. Halloween has become a holiday centered around candy, so why not let the kids indulge for a day? Candy is absolutely not a part of our normal life so it really was a special treat.

We let Ben go nuts on Halloween night – he got to try whatever he wanted {after I removed anything unsafe – i.e. choking hazard}, and that he did! I was very surprised to not see a sugar rush or the candy crazies come out. He was totally calm about everything. Prior to trick-or-treating I did my best to fill up both kids’ bellies with as protein-heavy snack as I could think – maybe that did the trick!?

Since Halloween, he’s completely forgotten about the candy!

A Few Home Improvements

When Alex and I bought our adorable little house in Seattle we never in a million years expected to still be living in it, two kids and nine years later. We love our home’s charm and character and the location is perfect for us. Now that we do have a family, though, we’re bursting at the seams and ready to take a sledgehammer to the walls that compartmentalize the space.

While a major home renovation is off the table for us at this point, we’re thinking creatively about how to make the house work for us for at least another couple years.

Our little house doesn’t have a front entry way. When you walk in the front door you’re in between the dining room and the living room. It only bothers me when I have a coat and things to set down. For nine years we didn’t have anything more than the back of a chair to drape a coat over.

I’m not sure how the idea even surfaced, but we decided to add a little bench and some hooks to a wall in our dining room and fill out the space a bit with added functionality. We also took the leaf out of our dining room table and it gave us so much extra space in there.

We absolutely love how it turned out and it has been so handy with the kids. Getting out the door is rather challenging these days and to have all of their coats, winter accessories, backpacks and boots stored right there by the front door has been a game changer.

In other teeny tiny home improvement news – we got a new kitchen faucet! Only because our last one broke and then started leaking all over the place. I do actually really like the new one – it’s a bit more of an industrial feel and it works really well.

Keeping up with two houses is nuts. Our house in Seattle regularly gets neglected, so on those rare weekends we’re home in Seattle we do try to give it a bit of TLC to keep her happy. We’ve been feeling like there’s been a giant spotlight on all of the things that are wrong with our Seattle house or that need touching up now that we have a brand new house. There’s always something!

Chronicles of a Stay at Home Mom: Two Toddlers

We are in the thick of it over here. That’s what everyone keeps saying and it sure feels like it. Life is nuts. There’s the occasional quiet moment when both kids are engaged in play, there are oodles of sweet moments I want to remember forever, and then there are usually around five tantrums and 20 fits per day. That’s life these days with my two toddlers!

These really are the days, though. Many of them are rough and leave me feeling like I got knocked down by a snow plow by the end of it. I live for the sweet, special moments with my two energetic, spirited toddlers. I just don’t know how long they’re going to want me around or be open to a hug. I am pushing the crazy aside and embracing these two sweet little ones while I can.

{Hannah is getting so heavy I now carry her on my back. It’s WAY too much for me to walk up the hill in our neighborhood with her on my front. The kids are also getting too heavy for me to push them up the hill in the double stroller, but Ben isn’t at the point where he’s regularly interested in walking when we go to the park or school.}

There is so much love pouring out from Ben and Hannah and so, so many cuddles and hugs and requests to be carried throughout the day. Even though they are both getting so heavy, I rarely deny their request to be picked up. How much longer are they going to want me to pick them up for a mama hug?

We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs with toddler mood swings over the last four months or so. Some days leave me defeated and wondering how I could have handled the situation better when Ben crawled into the drivers seat instead of his car seat for the millionth time in a row. Or when he just won’t get freaking dressed in the morning. Or when he completely ignores me and I have my hands full and am ready to walk out the door and we’re already running late. I don’t have the energy or the patience to always be lighthearted and funny.

Most of the time, though, I am patient. My patience often astounds me. Until I became a parent I had no idea how patient I can be. And dang, these kids test that every. single. day.

Our outings right now are vital to the success of most days. We’ve got to get out of the house at some point, especially if it’s a full day home with no school for Ben. My kids are at their best when they’re outside. Something about fresh air and open skies, perhaps.

Most days we wind up at our neighborhood park, 4 blocks up the street. On full days home with no school I like to plan a bigger outing to the zoo, the children’s museum, a park that’s farther away or the beach during the summer. There is so much to do in Seattle with kids.

It’s a lot to take two toddlers on big outings on my own but I’m getting pretty good at it. And I’m not afraid to pack up and head home if the eldest decides to run off on me or not listen. That’s the most overwhelming part of any outing is it’s a roll of the dice if Ben will be a listener or if he’ll be off in his own world.

You never know what’s going to come up. The need for a bathroom to appear out of thin air for my 3-year old, Ben refusing to walk and only wanting to be carried when I’m already carrying Hannah and our backpack, Hannah getting upset that I had to quickly pick her up and leave what she was doing because Ben decided he was done with that and ran off, the inevitable fit or tantrum in public, and the list goes on and on and on.

When they go well, which they usually do, our outings end up being a highlight for all of us for days and days. I love to expose my kids to new things, especially when it provides an opportunity for them to experience different people and cultures or to see parts of town we don’t frequent.

I have to throw this in there – I’ve been complemented in public by strangers for how patient I was or how I handled a tantrum and if you’re reading this and you see a parent in public with a toddler throwing a tantrum – tell her she did a good job. Tell her what a great parent she is. Tell her you admire her patience. I can’t tell you how much it will mean to her. I want to do a good job for myself and for my kids and for a complete and total stranger to notice and have the courage to comment on that is so empowering and uplifting. It will give her the strength to handle the next one.

It feels like things are going to start to get a little easier and a little less crazy, of course only for new challenges to arise. Now that Hannah is walking she’s been a lot more independent and more willing to go off and play by herself when I need to get something done.

Ben is super independent and can do most things on his own. The most challenging aspect of where he is developmentally is the 3-year old defiance. He’s in the midst of figuring out the concept of free will. Taking a step back, it really is so wonderful and so important that he challenges the boundaries and stands up for himself but dang it’s exhausting!

{I came up with a few “quiet stations” for Ben to do while Hannah naps. He’s no longer napping but definitely needs some quiet time after school/mid-afternoon.}

I’ve given Ben permission to argue with me if he disagrees with what I say. If he is really passionate about something I told him he can make a case for himself and his request, but he has to do it nicely and with no whining. Sometimes this is an effective way for him to take a deep breath and find his big kid voice and other times it’s a 25 minute whine fest until I can find a way to get through to him.

{Turning a box into a car turned out to be a perfect rainy day activity for my car loving tots.}

When it’s just Hannah and me and Ben is away at school, things are so calm and quiet. It’s really interesting to see how different Hannah is when it’s the two of us. She’s the chaos causer and she’s the loudest of the loud when Ben is around, but when it’s just us, she’s so cuddly and calm. She doesn’t have to compete for my attention then.

Life with two toddlers at different developmental stages is absolutely insane {I’m sure two tots at the same developmental stage is insane too! I can not imagine having TWO three-year olds!} but gosh, it is such a blessing to be the one to endure the noisy chaos all day long. My children are happy and it brings me so much joy to experience these wonderful moments and navigate the challenging ones. These stages and these years we’re in now are so precious to me and before we know it, we’ll be sending Ben off to Kindergarten.

Hannah is 15 Months Old!

Hannah is acting like such a little girl right now. She has done some major growing up in the last couple of weeks. Our girl is 15 months old! This age is one of my favorites of toddlerhood. It’s soooooooooo busy but so much fun!

  • 24 pounds 5 ounces {85th percentile}
  • Length: 31″ {75th percentile}
  • Clothing size: outgrowing 12-18m so anything I buy now is 18-24m
  • Shoe size: toddler size 4 – new shoes for this girl!
  • Number of teeth: six, though she just cut at least one bottom tooth
  • Eye color: I’m calling them “alpine lake” – the most gorgeous greeny blue
  • New words this month: lots! I really can’t remember them all, but some include: doggie, Jackson, daddy
  • Favorite foods: fruit, pasta, crackers, cheese, pumpkin muffins!
  • Least favorite foods: meat
  • Favorite things/activities: playing with Ben, reading interactive books, playing with cars, taking things out of drawers or cupboards, waving at a dog passing by, going to the park, climbing, bath time, watching the garbage trucks, pushing her toy vacuum around
  • Least favorite things/activities: being in her high chair, waiting

Walking has been a major theme this last month. It has been so much fun watching her turn into a true walker. She is getting very sturdy on her feet and now rarely crawls to get where she wants to go. While she still falls quite a bit every day I notice an advance in her walking strength. I can tell she is so proud of herself too.

One of my favorite moments from the month is walking down our very, very long gravel driveway at The Lodge. Ben was up ahead on his pedal bike, Jackson was alongside us and Hannah was on foot, walking, the whole length of the driveway {about the length of a city block}. I stepped back to enjoy the moment and take in this huge leap for our family. Hannah walked down the driveway while Ben was riding his bike. It was such a small and ordinary thing but it was so special to me.

There was one day right in the middle of her 15th month where something clicked with Hannah’s communication and she started signing repeating all of the things and figuring out how to sign a bit more. She now signs “please” and that’s usually her request to get something. She’ll point to something {or whine!} and then rub her belly or her chest {her sign for “please”} to ask for what she wants.

Sometimes her spoken words are clear as day, other times she repeats the syllables and the words sound a lot like “dada” – that’s by far her most commonly used word and it must be the most comfortable combination of phonemes. I’m starting to pick up on when she is saying the word “water” but it can be pretty hard at this point to understand what she’s saying. Either way, she’s working hard on getting the hang of speaking and has been repeating things so much more recently.

Following directions is something Hannah is excelling at right now. It is so endearing to ask her to go do something and have her get up and go and do it. She loves being a little helper when it’s time to clean up.

Additionally, we’ve discovered that she will start putting things away all on her own without being asked to do so. We have two step stools that live in the bathroom and Ben likes to bring the taller one into the kitchen to help cook. Hannah will frequently carry it back to the bathroom and put it away all on her own.

Hannah wants to do anything her brother is doing, including play with the same toy he’s playing with. She loves to take his cars that he precisely lined up in a special order. Naturally, Ben isn’t keen on this game. He knows that if he holds out his hand and asks for the toy back that almost always she’ll hand it right over.

More and more lately Hannah has been getting herself into all sorts of mischief. Another favorite pastime is opening drawers and cupboards and trying to pull as many things out as she can. When I open the refrigerator door she’ll pull all the condiments out of the shelf in the door – usually she puts them back, though! Now she’s starting to climb up into the refrigerator, though, so this will be interesting. It is amazing how quickly a young toddler can wreak havoc on the house!!

Long ago we nicknamed Hannah the “wrecking ball” and that is only becoming a more perfect name for her as time marches on. She destroys everything in her path. A few more of her favorites are pulling cheerios or crackers out of her snack cup and throwing them all over the floor, or pulling out the baskets of hats and boots and mittens and throwing the contents around – usually dipping something into the dog’s water bowl. If Ben is building a tower it doesn’t stand a chance of staying put for long before his sister comes and knocks it down.

To say Hannah is rough and tumble is an understatement. We’re working on helping her be more gentle. Hannah loves to walk around with a toy in her hand and unfortunately that toy becomes a weapon most of the time. Usually Ben and Jackson are on the receiving end of that and get bonked in the head.

Aside from frequent hitting Hannah is as sweet as they come, just like her big brother. She is such a cuddle bug. She has always been a super snuggly girl. I adore my morning cuddles with her. We sit together on the floor – her in my lap – snuggling while I read her favorite books and she has her morning yogurt.

Lately Hannah has been walking up to us – Ben especially – and giving the biggest bear hug. It is the sweetest thing! She adores her big brother SO much.

I’ve also recently noticed that she is very different when it’s just the two of us and Ben is away at school. She is much softer around the edges. I’m sure she enjoys not having to compete for my attention. I just love our time together.

I’m so SO happy to report that sleep is going so, so well this month! Alex took over bedtime with Hannah and it’s made all the difference. Alex is gently helping Hannah learn how to put herself to sleep, still with his support.

Very recently Hannah dropped her morning nap. We are still very much in the “figuring it out” phase because if given the opportunity she’ll either fall asleep in the car or stroller still, or at lunch. It seems like she needs anywhere from 2-3 hours of an afternoon nap and has been sleeping about 10.5-11 hours overnight. Everything combined with a little more consistency in our location {i.e. not going back and forth every 3-4 nights between Seattle and Leavenworth} seems to have resulted in Hannah’s “ah ha” moment with sleep.

Hannah has always excelled at fine motor skills and it has been really fun watching her master the use of her fork and spoon lately. It’s pretty impressive that she can feed herself with her utensils. She is so proud of herself, too.

Climbing is something Hannah has gotten into recently. Whether it’s up into a chair, up a ladder or to the top of the step stool, Hannah wants to climb it. She takes tremendous pride from getting to taller heights. She’s already figuring out if she slides her brother’s puzzle box over to the water dispenser on the outside of the freezer that she can reach the button to push to release the water.

Hannah and I have been loving our mid-week mornings together. We go for a girls coffee date most weeks and my girl is really starting to get into the steamed milk.

I could go on and on and on about Hannah and all of the things she’s into these days. She is such a happy girl and she’s not afraid to let everyone around her know it. We’re having so much fun with our girl and love how perfectly she fits into our family.

Ben is 15 months old

Preschool Update

We’re about six weeks into the school year here and Ben couldn’t be happier in his new Montessori school. He is so calm and comfortable there and he absolutely loves it. I’m blown away by some of the things he is doing and learning about there. He is picking up so many life skills and I’ve been so pleased with his enhanced “I can do it” attitude.

Ben is going to school three mornings a week. This schedule is perfect for us right now. It allows me some extra time with him during the week while still providing a bit of structure.

{I love making Ben’s school lunches. It’s so fun to come up with creative ideas on how to make a cold lunch more fun.}

The Montessori mantra is “teach me to do it myself” and I have seen that ringing loudly through Ben’s attitude these days. He wants to do everything himself and he is starting to take on more responsibility at home. He has been enjoying feeding Jackson, clearing his plate after meals, serving himself snack, getting Jackson water and helping make dinner most nights. While I think some of that is his age and personality, I do attribute an increase in independence to the start of his new school.

Every day when I put Ben to bed I always ask him two questions: what the best part of his day was and what he was most proud of himself for doing. On school days his answer to the former question is “school” or something he did at school. Recently he started taking piano lessons once a week at school and that is now at the top of the “best” list.

Since I don’t attend school with Ben I can’t really comment on all of the things that he does while he’s there, but I can say I know he’s well-cared for and happy. It is so reassuring to me to see how confident and comfortable he is there.

Walking to school in the mornings is such a pleasure. I love strapping Hannah to my back and either walking with Ben or pushing him in the stroller, walking through the neighborhood on our way to school. Urban life at its finest! We are so grateful to have this fantastic school so closeby.