Author Archives: Alison Allen

Ben’s First Day of School

Fall is here and school is back in session here in Seattle. We are so happy to be at the start of having a routine in our life again. While our summer was so fantastic it really lacked any predictability or consistency for the kids or me, so now that fall is here I’m embracing it.

Ben is in his second year of preschool this year, though attending a new school. He is going to a Montessori school in our neighborhood, just four blocks from our house. So far the transition to his new school has been seamless. He is really enjoying it and drop-off is a breeze!

Already on the first day of school I saw notable changes in Ben’s independence, one of the pillars of the Montessori philosophy. I’m eager to see how the new school environment influences him and promotes independence and executive functioning skills.

Here’s to a wonderful school year ahead!

For nostalgia sake: 2018 first day / 2017 first day

Summer Recap

Summer isn’t normally my favorite season. Don’t get me wrong, I love our sunny Seattle summer days, but I’m usually more of a fall and winter kind of gal. Not this year, though! This summer rivals some pretty epic summers I’ve had for the best summer of my adult life and I’m sliding it into the top slot of best summers of all time.

This post is mainly going to be a photo dump, but I’ll preface by saying that this summer was so fantastic because of all of the family time we’ve been able to have in the mountains. Our life slows down so much out there. The days are so full and they move so much slower and we jam them full of adventure, exploration and family giggles – oh, and eating. These really are the days…

{Ben kicked off summer with two weeks of swimming lessons in early June. He became quite comfortable in the water!}

{Ben’s first bike competition! Bike ‘n Juice at Ski Hill in Leavenworth.}

{We fell in love with the community pool in Leavenworth this summer and went there at least once a week.}

{I’ve been enjoying more homemade iced lattes this summer to save myself a trip to the coffee shop.}

{Ben got a scooter for his 3rd birthday. He’s a pro already!}

{Lake Wenatchee – one of our favorites.}

{#prodad}

{Overlooking the Wenatchee River.}

{Ben participated in 6 weeks of summer camps. 2 weeks were bike camps and the remaining were at his former preschool.}

{Ben + dirt = love}

{Icicle Gorge hike – my personal favorite!}

{A big part of our late summer has been getting our irrigation lines run and our yard prepped for grass in Leavenworth.}

{The view from my favorite coffee shop in Leavenworth is incredible…}

{Grammy and Papa came to celebrate Hannah’s first birthday!}

{Hannah turned ONE!}

{Inspiration Playground in Bellevue is a favorite!}

{We had very few Seattle beach days this summer, but one of my favorites was when we met a few friends and had a pizza picnic on the beach with the kiddos.}

{This kid could spend all day digging in the sand.}

{Backyard water fun!}

{I remember this morning. Alex had to leave for work around 6 a.m., totally unexpectedly, so I piled the kids in the stroller and took Jackson for a long walk around the neighborhood. Notice Mount Rainier in the background. It was the best way to start the day.}

{We stumbled upon so many spectacular sites this summer. This beach on the Wenatchee River is at the top of the list for sure.}

{We had a few different families out to The Lodge this summer and had a blast spending more time with them.}

{Hannah turned into a toddler this summer!}

{One of the hidden beaches in our neighborhood in Seattle.}

{Grandpa Fred came for a visit in mid-August!}

{Hikes at Ski Hill in Leavenworth are extra special.}

{The grass is coming in at The Lodge and Ben loves playing baseball!}

{As the summer carried on we spent more and more time just playing outside in Leavenworth.}

{Our summer came to a close with our family trip to Wisconsin. More on that later!}

Ben is back in school now and fall is here in Seattle. Summer came to a halt after Labor Day and I wasn’t as prepared as I had hoped. I had really been expecting an Indian summer to precede our switch to autumn and that doesn’t seem to be the case. Here’s hoping for a fantastic fall to follow our summer!

 

Ben is 3 1/4!

It is so much fun to do quarterly updates for my oldest toddler, but SO much happens and changes in a quarter it is so hard to keep up with. My goodness gracious, though, my Benjamin has never been sweeter or more fun. That said, with the exception of Ben’s first quarter of life, this last quarter has undoubtedly been the most challenging. Three is no joke.

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, spaghetti and meatballs, most meats – especially slow cooked
  • 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

Two weeks before Ben turned three we started to see some major changes. The tantrums were mounting, the defiance was abundant, the screaming was persistent, the mischief was constant and the simplest tasks took an eternity and was like pulling teeth to just get Ben to brush his teeth. Every part of every day was extremely taxing. We knew “three” had arrived!

These unpleasant changes lasted a solid two months and then one day we had this mature little three-year old. I’m well aware that misbehavior is a sign either of needing/wanting attention, another need not being met {i.e. tired/hungry, etc.} or a big period of brain development. I’m pretty sure with this particular season it was largely a developmental milestone, but also a major transition – Ben’s routine and schedule totally changed and we began our summer schedule right around this time, too.

Our little threenager is just that – a mini teenager. He wants to do his own thing, But at least he still likes us!

Even as a very young toddler Ben has always been quite independent. He loves getting himself dressed, helping in the kitchen, playing on his own, reading books to himself and doing things for himself.

Ben is extremely curious right now. Alex and I are doing whatever we can to foster that. I love when he asks “why” or for more information about what something is or how it works. He amazes me sometimes with his ability to recall or repeat what I say.

Alex and I have been loving the progression that our conversations with Ben are taking these days. He asks such thoughtful and insightful questions. He’s starting to understand the concept of time a little more, though this has been a tough one to get.

As a 3 1/4 year old, Ben is sleeping around 10-10.5 hours overnight and most days takes a 2-3 hour nap. He usually goes to sleep around 8 or 8:30 and wakes up somewhere around 6:30. About once a week he’ll wake in the night – usually because he dropped a stuffie or pillow and can’t find it, though he does have the occasional bad dream.

Socially Ben has made some big changes in the last quarter or so. He has several friends and there are some friendships that seem to be stronger than others. There are some kids from his school last year who he seems to miss and asks about often. At this point he prefers playing on his own. We’ve had some friends up to The Lodge and it’s been really neat to see him playing so well with the other kids.

One of Ben’s favorite activities has been riding his balance bike. He LOVED his week of bike camp with his balance bike in early July. He really mastered the balance bike and it brought him tremendous confidence.

Because he mastered the balance bike we felt he was ready for a pedal bike. While we still feel like he’s ready – he is having a really hard time figuring out how to actually pedal. We popped the training wheels on so it would be a little easier, but this has been a source of tremendous frustration for him. He had a terrible time in his second week of bike camp with the pedal bike and I ended up pulling him out halfway through the session because he was so upset about it. He’s just not getting how to pedal. We’re going to lay off of this for a bit and pick it back up after he has the opportunity to ride a tricycle or just take a break.

Ben has always had a natural athleticism and has become very interested in soccer and baseball {well, t-ball} recently. It’s impressive watching him hit the ball on the tee, play catch and kick a soccer ball. He is really looking forward to his first experience playing soccer this fall.

At home, Ben loves to be helpful, particularly in the kitchen. He really enjoys cooking with me and will often come put his step stool next to me and ask to help make dinner or if we can bake something together.

Ben’s personality is staying mostly constant at this point. He is as sweet as they come. He loves to be surrounded by family and people who care about him. Close relationships are very important to him. Ben is compassionate, sensitive and empathetic and is very, very loving. He is really impacted by how other people feel. His sense of humor continues to emerge and he loves to make people laugh.

It’s really timely that my quarterly updates seem to largely coincide with the changing of the seasons. We are rounding the corner to fall and Ben has some really big transitions ahead. He’s starting a Montessori preschool after Labor Day where he’ll go 3 days per week, he’ll be joining a soccer team and getting back into gymnastics. We always have so much to look forward to and this fall is no different.

Ben & Hannah

Now that Hannah is one I thought it would be fun to do a little comparison of Ben and Hannah. In my month-by-month or quarterly update posts I try to keep it focused on each kiddo and avoid comparing the two kids. They have a ton of similarities in their personalities but there are some really big differences in how they have developed.

One of the biggest similarities in Ben and Hannah is that they are both extremely loud. They crave being the center of attention. Neither one is afraid to make their presence known or request additional attention if they’re not getting enough.

If you spend much time with Ben you’ll notice how naturally athletic he is. As a baby and early toddler he really excelled in gross motor development. When he was learning a new skill he would really challenge himself and try things maybe a little before he was ready, then he’d practice his new skill over and over again.

{Ben – 13 months old – days away from walking}

Hannah, on the other hand, has really excelled in her fine motor skills. She’s been slower to hit her gross motor skills milestones, but when she does hit them she’s mastered them. She waits until she knows she’s nailed it.

{Hannah – 12 months old and standing up unsupported.}

As a baby, Ben was a sympathy crier. If there was another baby crying he would start crying too. Hannah did not get that gene. If Ben is doing something inappropriate she thinks it’s hilarious. If someone gets hurt and is crying she is the first to laugh.

Both of our sweet kids absolutely love music. They both enjoy playing musical instruments and they love listening to music.

When Ben was a baby it took him a while to really get into solid foods, especially feeding himself finger foods. He was fine with purees – still loves them in fact – but when it came to finger foods it took until about 10 months for him to get comfortable and show an interest. We started Hannah on solid foods when she was 5 months old and she couldn’t get enough! She took to solid foods immediately and hasn’t looked back. She’s been known to scoop up a handful of fruit and shovel it into her mouth.

{Ben – almost 11 months}

{Hannah – 11 months}

Ben and Hannah are both pretty easy-going kids. They’re able to go with the flow and adjust well in new surroundings. Ben in particular is so happy to spend time and connect with anyone who he feels comfortable with and who shows him love and care. Hannah is a little slower to warm up to new people and is more connected to me as a baby than Ben was.

In terms of energy and activity levels, we’ll have to see how this goes as Hannah gets a little older. I think Ben will have her beat a bit here. She’s super wiggly but in a different way than Ben was, I think. He just seems like he needs to burn off excess energy by running and climbing and jumping. Hannah just doesn’t like to be confined it seems.

{Ben – 22 months – ever the athlete}

{Hannah – 11 months}

A big physical difference is their size. Ben has always been very thin and Hannah has been on the opposite end of the spectrum. Currently both of them can fit into the same size shorts – 18-month! Ben is hard to buy pants for because they won’t stay up on his waist, whereas I have to pay attention to pants for Hannah to make sure the legs aren’t too tight!

{Legs for days!}

Both kiddos are very independent and prefer to do things themselves without help. Some of Ben’s latest phrases include “No mama! I can do it myself!” Once Hannah has the vocabulary I’m sure I’ll hear that from her too. From an early age with both of them, though, they are content playing on their own and don’t always need to be entertained.

As an itty bitty infant Ben was not into cuddling but now is an all-star cuddle bug. Hannah has always been into snuggles. I can’t wait to see the two of them curled up on the couch sharing a blanket, snuggling up with their stuffies one day in the not-too-distant future.

Lately the consensus seems to be that Hannah looks just like her brother. I definitely agree they have some significant similarities in their appearances, especially their mouths. It’s tough because Ben was so bald at the age Hannah is now, so it makes it harder to compare.

{Hannah – 6 months}

{Ben – 6 months}

I’m not sure how Alex and I turned out two blonde hair, blue eyed cuties, but we managed! Ben and Hannah both have blue eyes but the color of their eyes are completely different and SO beautiful. Ben’s eyes are stunning – they are so captivating. Strangers will occasionally stop to comment on his eyes. They are a deep blue/gray with an incredible luster to them. Almost like broken glass. And Hannah’s eyes look like an alpine lake – a beautiful, rich tealy blue that pulls out the colors of whatever is surrounding her.

It has been really fun when I’ve done my monthly Hannah updates to look back on my Ben posts from that same age. I always wait until I’ve written Hannah’s update to re-read Ben’s update from that time and it’s uncanny sometimes how similar the updates are. These two littles have so much in common but their personalities are definitely their own. It will be so fun to see their personas continue to come out as they get older.

Hannah is 13 Months Old!

So much has changed in the last month with our Hannah girl. She is TOTALLY a toddler in every way, shape and form. We are having a blast with her but daaang this girl knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to make demands to get it.

Hannah’s stats:

  • Weight: at her 12-month check up she was 23 pounds 3 ounces {90th percentile}
  • Length: around 29 inches give or take
  • Clothing size: 12-18 month but she’s starting to outgrow pants & PJs already
  • Shoe size: baby size 2 or 3, depends on brand
  • Number of teeth: SIX!
  • Eye color: bluish turquoise – seems like her gorgeous eye color will be permanent!
  • Words: dada, Ben, mama, yeah, hello, banana, uh oh, no, water, cracker, hi, Jackson, all done
  • Favorite foods: strawberries, watermelon, pasta, smoothies, ham, bananas, bread, blueberries, crackers
  • Least favorite foods: this really depends on the moment these days

The most exciting thing that Hannah has worked on this last month has been standing up on her own. She did it a couple times before she turned one and then as the days and weeks went on she was standing up more and more on her own, working on balance and strength. There were so many times when we swore she’d take her first step. She is just waiting until she is good and ready…. any day now!

This last month it seems like some things clicked and she became a little more patient and a little less demanding, though she started the month being extremely loud and demanding, so much so I considered ear plugs at dinner a few times. We’ve been working more and more on sign language with her and it’s definitely helping her ask nicely when she wants something.

Hannah has been pointing to things and signing quite a bit to convey her requests. It’s been really helpful to have her be able to communicate more and more with us. Just the other day she was mimicking Alex say “cracker” and that was the first time I’ve heard her try to repeat a word in that way.

As a very new toddler, Hannah is extremely independent. At certain times of the day she wants to be held but she is also totally okay with playing solo on the ground with her toys.

Hannah is in a very exploratory phase right now. She loves checking out what’s behind or under things, she especially loves lifting the toilet seat up {and splashing in the toilet}, and her favorite toy-free activity is pulling the toilet paper off of the roll.

It has been really fun to see Hannah start to model what other people are doing. She loves to help rub sunscreen on her body, put on her own hat and use a wipe to wipe her arm or leg or the wall next to her changing table. She also likes to try to put sunglasses on her face all by herself. She has been practicing using a fork at mealtimes and has so much pride when she feeds herself.

We love watching Hannah model what her brother is doing, too. She loves to push around Ben’s toy cars and trucks, just like he does. We have a pretend kitchen at The Lodge and she’s been having SO much fun playing with that, particularly the pretend cookies. She loves to put them on the cookie sheet and pull them off and put them in the little cookie tube. Hannah has started throwing the ball for Jackson and gets so excited when he gets it after she throws it.

Undoubtedly, though, Hannah’s favorite toy right now is the water table. She points to it repeatedly throughout the day, suggesting we go out and play.

Hannah LOVES water and we’ve had such a blast playing in the pool and at the beach this summer. Pretty much every day is filled with water fun for Miss Hannah.

There are a few things that Hannah absolutely HATES right now. The biggest one is getting her diaper changed. We joke that it’s like wrestling an alligator trying to get her to lay down on her back without flipping over and flailing her arms and legs. Diaper changes typically take 5+ minutes these days and are filled with negotiations and concessions – usually on my part. Additionally, getting in the car seat is a major struggle, though we’ve found it to be rather successful if we give her a cracker before we put her in that she’ll sit nicely for us to buckle her. Otherwise it’s another 5+ minute struggle.

Sleep this last month has quite possibly been the most challenging of her life to date. We’ve had a lot of stretches where she’s slept through the night consistently but then we’d have these short periods where she’d be up for hourrrssss at night, or she’d wake up every hour, which she didn’t even do as a newborn. Hannah seems to be a lighter sleeper and often at this point if she wakes during the night it’s a 2-hour affair to get her back to sleep.

She is still showing that she needs two naps per day. They don’t have to be long and man she can rally if she doesn’t get any naps, but if it were up to her she’d have a 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. nap every day.

Nursing is something Hannah and I have really enjoyed during her 13 months. We’ve been working for a while to phase it out. She has really taken to whole milk, though at this point doesn’t show enough interest in it to get the recommended amount each day. Currently I’m still nursing Hannah before bed most nights, but not all. Alex is putting her to sleep now and that has been going really well.

We have a lot to look forward to with our 13-month old as we round the corner to fall. This developmental period is rather busy but it is so much fun as life starts to look a little different when explored on foot.

Ben at 13 months – I can’t believe how darn similar Ben and Hannah are as 13-month olds!

Hannah’s First Birthday Celebration

Hannah’s first birthday was so special. We were out in the mountains, per our birthday tradition, and had a fun-filled day centered around our birthday girl.

{Well, this was Hannah’s big birthday gift from us – a ridiculous battery-operated musical activity table. It’s off-the-wall for us but she loves it and we knew she would!}

{We took a fun walk down by the Wenatchee River which runs next to downtown Leavenworth.}

{Hannah LOVES her time in the pool!}

{The birthday girl made it all the way until 3:30 without a nap! She was having too much birthday fun.}

{Time for cake! Hannah’s favorite food is strawberries and Ben thought she would love a strawberry cake. He is so thoughtful!}

{Hannah got her very own smash cake!}

{Unsurprisingly she loved the cake!}

{…..aaaaand crash!}

Hannah’s birthday was all about her. I think she had a blast! So far she is loving being one and is completely and totally a toddler! Happy birthday sweet girl!

Alex’s Belated Paternity Leave

After Hannah’s birth we were so fortunate that Alex was able to stay home for two weeks to bond with her and help out with the transition to having two kiddos. At that time he wasn’t eligible for his company’s paternity leave because he had only worked there for a few months. Thankfully, though, he was able to take the leave later on and we just wrapped up nearly 3 weeks of precious family time.

The time we had with Alex was about as good as it gets. We were able to spend so very much time together as a little family of four and make memories that will stay with me forever – I sure hope at least Ben remembers this time.

Alex’s vacation started on the 4th of July and ended the day after Hannah’s birthday and included a visit from Alex’s parents. We split our time between the mountains and Seattle.

At the start of Alex’s leave both of us were rattling off things we really wanted to do with the time and I’m so glad we had the foresight to come up with a plan for his leave. It would have been so disappointing to near the end and look back and think about all the things we hadn’t gotten to. Because of that, we were able to get to nearly everything we had hoped to.

Our time in the mountains felt like it lasted so, so long. Time passes so much slower out there and the pace of life is more manageable, it feels. We are able to fit so much into a single day, let alone the nearly two weeks we were there for.

Despite the unseasonably cool days in the Pacific Northwest earlier in the month we made it to the fabulous Leavenworth pool several times, took countless trips to Enchantment Park in town, walked the trail from the park into town, went to the beach at Lake Wenatchee State Park,fell in love with the Leavenworth Farmers Market, went hiking several times and relaxed at The Lodge. Alex even pulled both kiddos in the bike trailer. Our “vacation” ended with Hannah’s birthday celebration.

The time we spent in Seattle was just as special as it was in the mountains, though we were only there for five of the 18 days. Ben had bike camp every morning and I think Alex got a kick out of helping Ben ride his bike up there each day then coming back early to pick him up so he could watch Ben on his bike.

We had a really fun trip to the zoo, lots of park time, Alex took a nice bike ride and we enjoyed a few nice meals out and I was able to take some time to get a few things accomplished on my own.

Another highlight of our trip was Alex’s and my overnight in Seattle while the kids stayed at The Lodge with Grammy and Papa. The adult time was much needed. We were gone around 24 hours and enjoyed some patio time at Bottlehouse, a fabulous dinner at our favorite restaurant, Vendemmia, and a little more flexibility in our time.

{Side note: the following are the only two pictures we took during our time away. It’s funny how few pictures I take when the kids aren’t the focus!}

The best part for me, though, was seeing how much family bonding took place, in particular while we were in the mountains. Our time was so special. It was precious. It was perfect. We all knew that Alex’s increased presence was a treat and we indulged and just so enjoyed it. Hannah and Alex had some really, really special time, too, which is what it was all about.

We feel so grateful for this family time and have made so many memories and hopefully started a tradition that will last for years to come. We’re hoping to have a longer “staycation” every year where we can stay put in Seattle and/or Leavenworth and enjoy time together. I’m so, so glad that companies and our country are starting to offer paternity leave to new dads. There’s still a lot of work to do, in my opinion, to improve paid parental leave across the board, but I’m seeing progress and am so thankful for that.

{Waving bye bye to dada as he leaves for work….}

Hannah is Twelve Months Old!

Hip hip hooray! Hannah is ONE! My goodness gracious – she is a ball of fun and a barrel of energy – more so every day it feels like. Hannah is living her best life and she sure knows how to have a good time {hint: it usually involves food or destroying something!}. {Hannah turned one on July 22nd and I was waiting until her 12-month checkup to publish this post so I’d have up-to-date measurements.}

Hannah’s stats:

  • Weight: 23 pounds 3 ounces {90th percentile}
  • Length: around 29 inches – measurement wasn’t super accurate {typically 50th percentile}
  • Clothing size: 12-18 month
  • Shoe size: baby size 2 or 3, depends on brand
  • Number of teeth: two
  • Eye color: bluish turquoise – it totally depends on the light and her surroundings
  • Words: dada, Ben, mama, yeah, hello, banana, uh oh, no, water {wa wa wa wa}
  • Favorite foods: strawberries, watermelon, pasta, smoothies, ham, bananas, bread, blueberries, Bambas {peanut butter puffs from Israel}
  • Least favorite foods: depends on the moment – this is where we’re seeing her toddler brain coming out 🙂

As a one-year old Hannah is constantly on-the-go. She’s an extremely fast crawler and she has been pulling herself up on anything she possibly can.

It’s really hard to make a prediction as to when Hannah might possibly start walking. Alex and I keep saying she’ll just stand up on her own one day and start walking or she’ll be a really late walker. Just in the last week or so she’s started testing the waters on standing unsupported. Once she feels ready she’ll be unstoppable!

Hannah has a huge personality. Her little cackle can put a smile on anyone’s face. She’s really good at laughing at her brother when he’s doing something inappropriate. These two are already on the same team.

As an infant, Hannah has never been too shy to request attention. From anyone. I can only imagine that’ll keep up as a toddler! In a public space she is happy to make noise and let everyone know she’s there. If there’s someone she wants to say hello to she’ll just get this huge smile on her face and start shouting at them then wave or clap when they look her way. Most of the time it results in a big smile from the other person.

Hannah has been talking a lot lately. It is so fun to hear her call for her “Nen Nen” {Ben} or say “hello” to a stranger as she waves to them. Alex has been making funny sounds when talking to her and she loves to mimic him. It is so cute.

Independence is something I’ve notice came very early to Hannah. I’m not sure if it’s a product of being a second child but she is very content to be playing on the floor by herself, pushing one of Ben’s cars around or cruising around the house exploring. She wants to do everything herself.

Generally Hannah’s demeanor is very happy and pleasant. And loud. She is super smiley and very friendly. She loves waving hello or clapping her hands with excitement. She’s content and really easy-going. She loves moving around, making music and playing on the floor.

We’ve nicknamed Hannah the “wrecking ball” because when she comes near anything she can throw or destroy that’s what she does! She is very much in a destructive phase right now. She loves to dump things out, throw things or pull the contents out of a bag or laundry basket.

There are some big changes coming up on the horizon for Miss Hannah. We’re nearing the very end of our breastfeeding journey and the beginning of our transition to cow’s milk. We have been starting to introduce cow’s milk to Hannah and it seems like she’s starting to show a little more interest in it. She has been almost exclusively breastfed for her entire life so it’s hard to say how the transition will go.

Hannah’s bedtime routine will be affected by the end of nursing. We’re hoping she will enjoy having cow’s milk, cuddles and story time together with Ben and then going to bed, ultimately on her own. We are also planning on merging her two naps into one afternoon nap sometime soon.

Sleep has been intermittent for Hannah for a while. Typically she’s a really solid sleeper, though occasionally she’ll have a few days where she wakes up in the middle of the night, struggles to fall asleep or wakes up early {and sometimes all of the above!}. Generally, though, Hannah takes one shorter nap, one longer nap and sleeps around 10-11 hours per night.

Since about age 4 months Hannah has not been a huge fan of riding in the car. We got her a bigger convertible car seat around 9 months and that helped tremendously. Also not being sick constantly helped out. She does really well during the day in her car seat but she haaatteessss when we drive home from The Lodge at night and she has to fall asleep in the car. She also hates the elevation change when we go through the mountain pass, it seems. These days, though, she loves getting into her car seat, reaching for Ben’s sunglasses and then putting them on her face and entertaining herself with them during the drive.

Hannah loves anything her big brother does. Their sibling love has only been growing recently. It’s been really fun for both of them, it seems, now that Hannah is becoming more able to involve herself in things Ben is doing. It’s also a great source of frustration for them both. The moments where they’re playing together are always the sweetest of the day.

Food is a very big part of Hannah’s life. New this month she tried crackers! Unsurprisingly she loves them! I’ve started giving her little snack cups with bigger graham crackers or her Bamba peanut butter puffs. Smaller foods like O’s cereal or small crackers end up getting dumped on the floor within 4 seconds. Hannah is obsessed with fruit and crackers and everything else she seems to feel lukewarm about these days.

Lately Hannah has mastered the art of wiping her tray clean with her arm in one big swoop – typically when I’m watching. Then she laughs. She also loves spitting her food across the room. Always followed by a big smile and a cackle. Have I mentioned how big of a personality this girl has?

Gosh this girl brings us so, so, so much joy. She is an absolute delight to be around. Even when she’s crabby or being mischievous she is so dang funny. It’s so hard not to laugh when she’s “misbehaving” {as though a 12-month old can do that}. Her little personality is so much fun and we just adore our sweet Hannah girl.

Ben is Twelve Months Old

Happy First Birthday Hannah!

Happy, happy birthday to our sweet Hannah girl! Alex and I have been so nostalgic these last few weeks as Hannah’s first birthday had been on the horizon. Our littlest baby isn’t a baby anymore and man is it showing. Hannah has an enormous personality and makes us laugh all day long. We can’t get enough of her. We were smitten from the moment she was born and we’ve only grown more in love with our sweet girl as the days have gone by.

This sweet girl sure knows how to live her best life! Happy birthday Hannah Maxine!

Chronicles of a Stay at Home Mom: Feeling Settled

I’m finally feeling pretty settled in my newish role as “mom” and it’s feeling very natural for me to be with the kids all day. I love it.

Now that I’m past the honeymoon phase I have gotten into a groove and have had a chance to figure out a routine and think through some #momgoals.

As a stay-at-home-mom, I want to make sure that I’m carving out time for myself. I can’t take care of my kids or my family if I don’t take care of myself first. It’s my goal to schedule a little “me” time each week and make sure I’m keeping up with exercising. I’m training for a half marathon this fall, so that will help keep me on track and have something personal I’m working towards.

Another goal I have is to make sure I am spending one-on-one time with both kids. I don’t necessarily want to quantify that, I want to create an awareness. There are natural times most days when I can have that time, whether it’s reading a few books with Ben while Hannah naps or playing peek-a-boo and singing songs with Hannah while Ben is at school.

I can see how quickly a trying day can turn into a meltdown from all parties involved and one of my goals is to use strategies I’m trying to teach Ben if I’m frustrated or losing my patience with his threenager behavior. They work so well! There’s magic in taking a deep breath or giving myself a time out.

Finally, a goal I have is to stay true to myself as a mom. I’m not an aspiring Pinterest mom – I’d rather just bake plain Jane chocolate chip cookies or play outside in the backyard than put together an elaborate craft or Pinterest-perfect birthday party. I am a mom who aspires to be present with her kids, who loves sitting on the floor building tower houses and who is totally a-ok singing “Skinamarinky dinky dink” in public.

I am really in the thick of it now with the ages of my kiddos. Three is no two, that’s for sure. Anyone who says “terrible twos” is delusional in my experience {and no, I’m not saying “terrible threes” more just emphasizing that three is wayyyy harder than two}. Having a threenager and a non-walking, very heavy 12-month old is extremely challenging both physically and mentally.

I’m hopeful I can take some pauses and evaluate how things are going. Since I won’t have regular performance reviews I need to rely on myself to provide constructive feedback and identify areas of improvement. Thankfully the internet exists and I have a world of resources and mom friends at my fingertips so I’m constantly learning and improving as a mom.

{Note to self: Hannah is not a fan of the splash pad!}

It’s my hope that my kiddos feel loved and cared for and that they grow up to be independent, well-adjusted members of society who can make their own decisions and pursue their passions. So far Ben seems like he’s on track.