Author Archives: Alison Allen

Maternity Leave

I’m savoring the last bits of my maternity leave as I’m slowly easing back into my job. I officially go back to work on October 22nd. Before I left I promised I’d facilitate some trainings in mid-October, so I’ve already dipped my toes back into the working world.

This maternity leave has been oh so very different from my leave with Ben. Hannah’s leave started right away with a beautiful baby girl coming home from the hospital as a one-day old. Alex took two wonderful weeks off of work to spend with us as we adjusted to life with two. Then, I was on my own with Hannah and Stacey maintained her regular schedule with Ben.

It was so special to have this bonding time with Hannah. She and I have become extremely connected – so much so that she often refuses to be held by anyone else. I will always remember this time so fondly and with tremendous gratitude that I had the opportunity to spend so much time with my baby girl.

We enjoyed our long walks in the late summer sun and savoring those first few crisp and sunny fall days with pumpkin lattes at our daily stop at the coffee shop, we trekked over the mountains to The Lodge four whole times, we made new friends with other mamas and babies and we enjoyed going to a variety of exercise classes together. I’ve been able to read NINE books while on maternity leave! It has been so much fun to get lost in good books. I have a Kindle Paperwhite with a soft back light that makes it so I can read during the middle-of-the-night feedings.

There were challenges, too. Mostly with me being home and around while Ben was there. As time has gone on he has become more and more sweet with wanting to just be with Hannah and me instead of with Stacey. I think it’s hard for him to understand and it’s a sticky dynamic with Stacey. During the day I found I needed to be out of the house if Ben was home, which really complicated my days and my schedule and required me to be quite flexible.

My going back to work is the beginning of several major changes for our family. I’m not feeling super settled right now with our childcare arrangements since we pulled Ben out of preschool. That is making it a little harder on me to go back to work. We’re throwing a huge challenge at our au pair, Stacey, giving her a very hands-on Benjamin, as well as a hands-on newborn. We are working on getting Ben into another preschool {more to come on that in another post} so that Stacey’s primary focus can be on Hannah, at least for part of the day, and Ben can be with other kids his age.

It’s very bittersweet to be leaving Hannah, grabbing my work bag and throwing on a non-mom-on-the-go outfit as I head back to adult life as a mom of two. I’m looking forward to some more adult time, having more opportunities to use both of my hands at the same time, drink coffee while it’s hot, stimulate my brain a bit, have conversations that have nothing to do with negotiating with a toddler and making a difference to people outside of my house. Here’s to a the start of a new chapter!

Building the Lodge: Siding + Drywall Started

I made a trip out to check on The Lodge just over a week ago and was so excited to see some big updates! My dad, a home builder and inspector, was here visiting, and I couldn’t not bring him out to see the house. Even more recently, Alex and I just made a spontaneous trip out to stake out where the hot tub will be located.

{Siding is up halfway!}

{A full wall of siding complete! This will be the final siding color. as well as the trim color.}

Here’s what’s going on at The Lodge:

  • The septic system was installed
  • Siding has begun – I think they’re close to halfway done
  • Trim around the exterior windows was completed
  • Soffit {wood under the roof overhang} installation has been completed
  • Drywall has begun – all of the drywall has been hung – next up: taping and mudding!
  • Fireplace waterproofing and prep for stone on the outside is complete, inside is just beginning
  • The heat is on!!!!

{The kitchen before drywall!}

{The kitchen after drywall! I cannot get over how GORGEOUS the beams are!}

{The drywall really, really changes things on the inside. We love how much the black windows pop! You may notice there is no drywall on the ceiling – all of the ceilings on the roof line will be cedar.}

Unless I’m missing anything the only big decisions we have left to make are the floors, interior paint color(s) and the furniture. Here is a link to my Pinterest board if you’re curious to see some of the furniture we’re going with {note: the colors that show up on the Pinterest board are not necessarily the colors we have selected} or are interested in.

{Lots happening at the house!}

{Can’t get over how beautiful the soffits are!}

We did learn from the builder that we won’t be in until sometime in January. We were disappointed to hear that we’re not able to be there for Christmas, but at least we know now. It’s so fun to see everything happening and see it start to take shape. Alex and I have been lamenting on how we’ve started imagining and picturing ourselves in the house and it is SO fun.

{Front of the house on 10.1.18 – no siding, soffits just beginning – window trim done.}

{Front of the house 10.8.18 – siding is started and soffits are done!}

{Our job for our most recent visit was to select the location for the hot tub slab. Here it is!}

{This will be the view from the hot tub on a cloudy day.}

 

Mama’s 5K!

When I was about 4 weeks postpartum I signed up for a 5K at the end of September and a 10K at the end of October. Back in August when it was light out a bit later in the evening, somehow I thought I’d have enough time to train for said runs. Reality sank in quickly and I’ve been able to get only one run in each week – on the weekends!

While I’m still able to exercise during the week, I can’t take Hannah on a run with me yet {it’s recommended to wait until about 8 months to take an infant in a jogging stroller due to their neck strength and head control} and Stacey can’t watch Hannah yet, sooooo that means I can only go for a run when Alex can watch Hannah. That is rather limiting when it’s now getting dark so early in the evenings – I am not keen on running in the dark, so I get to run on the weekends.

In any case, I really pushed myself and showed up to my 5K two weekends ago. I felt very unprepared and wasn’t sure I would be able to run the whole thing.

My little cheerleader, Ben, joined me on the run and it helped me keep going. I wanted to show him how hard I was working for something that I really wanted – what a better example of perseverance? I ran the whole thing {thank goodness it was almost all flat!} in 33 minutes and it felt so great to have accomplished that feat.

Now on to training for that 10K coming up in 2.5 weeks…. that’s going to be the real challenge!!!!

Ben’s First Haircut

A few weeks ago we pulled the trigger and got Ben his first haircut! I can’t believe he was more than two before getting his little blond locks trimmed for the first time. I was waiting and waiting to see if he’d develop a head full of beautiful golden curls but they were getting frizzy and looked a bit messy so Alex convinced me to take him in.

{This was the “before” picture}

Not too much of a difference, really. He just got cleaned up and has a bit of a fresher look. He love, love, loved driving the airplane and car chairs that they have in the kids salon in our neighborhood.

Preschool & Childcare Update

Just over a week ago I posted an update about Ben and his preschool. I posted it while he was at school and after he came home I realized I needed to negate the update.

Without going into all of the details surrounding the circumstances, Alex and I made the difficult decision to withdraw Ben from his preschool, effective immediately. I couldn’t shake a gut feeling I had that this school wasn’t right for Ben. When it came down to it, he was very consistently telling us he didn’t like school or the teachers {but he liked the kids and toys and the piano} and I just didn’t feel like he was getting anything out of it. I also didn’t want his first experience with school to be a negative one. So, we decided we’re going to look elsewhere for a school that is more professional and provides better care for kiddos.

In related news, we’re awaiting the confirmation paperwork to come through for our new au pair! She’ll be joining us from England at the very end of December this year. This leaves a month of a childcare gap for us, which we’re filling with a temporary nanny.

Interestingly, our new au pair is the cousin of Stacey, our current au pair. I was getting so unbelievably frustrated with the process of finding an au pair and it ended up just working out that Stacey’s cousin’s timing and experience aligned with what we’re looking for. We can’t wait to meet her after Christmas!

Stay tuned for an update on the preschool search. I’m taking at least one tour this week and hope to find something we can start soonish with Ben. Most preschools have a minimum starting age of 2.5, which Ben won’t hit until the end of November. We’ll see what happens!

 

One-on-One Time

One of the biggest challenges of now having a second child is making sure Alex and I are spending one-on-one time with both kiddos. Naturally I am spending oodles of time with Hannah, thus defaulting to more Alex-Ben time. It’s the reverse that gets trickier.

Lately, Alex and I have been going out of our way to make sure I am able to spend quality time with Ben, just the two of us. Even if it’s ten minutes here or there, like giving him a bath or putting him to bed. We’ve been a little lax on our “green light” wake up rule and have allowed Ben to get up earlier to spend time with me in the morning before Hannah wakes up. It’s important that we have that time together.

Sweet Ben has started requesting cuddle time at 4:30 in the morning. As much as Alex and I would both love to snuggle him for the rest of the night in bed with us we know that’s a slippery slope and don’t want to have to undo that down the road. So, our days have been starting around 4:30 {or earlier for those of us who wake up to feed baby Hannah, usually from 3-4} while we work to get Ben to stay in his bed for the rest of the night. It’s hard to be too upset about this since all Ben wants is to come and cuddle with us, buttttt we really like to sleep in later than 4:30.

Ben and I have had a few mama/Ben dates, most recently with a run down to Madison Park with a pit stop at the coffee shop, park and beach. It was such a special morning with Ben.

Alex is also trying to find ways to spend time with Hannah. He’ll often bring her with him in the mornings when he walks Jackson and that’s not only a great start to the day but a great way for him to connect with her and enjoy cuddle time.

We’re still figuring out how to balance our two kiddos who both have very different needs, demands and schedules, and I think we’re doing okay. Maybe someday things will slow down and normalize? Probably not!

Hannah is Two Months Old!

Time is moving at warp speed, these days. Sometimes it feels like Hannah has been here forever and other times it feels like she was just born yesterday. In any case, she’s two months old now.

We had her two-month checkup recently and she weighs 12 pounds 8 ounces {75th percentile} and is 21.75 inches long {10th percentile}. She got her first round of a whole mess of vaccines, which makes me happy since Ben is now in school with a bunch of other germy kids. Hannah is still in 0-3 month clothing but is ready to jump up into 3-6 any day now, which is great, because I only bought summer 0-3 month stuff and she’s been living in her jammies for a few weeks now!

Hannah continues to be an absolute delight. She is such a good cuddler – I love when she falls asleep, her tummy to mine, and her arms and legs stretched around my torso. It’s the sweetest. She still makes little chipmunk noises, but her newborn noises are already starting to disappear. In the last few weeks she has started smiling. I guess that rivals the sweetest thing, too.

We’ve been working on tummy time and Hannah’s neck strength is really improving. She has started to roll over from her tummy to her back already!

I’m not sure if it’s too early to “call” her personality, but so far, she’s very happy and very calm and patient. Since we have a two year old, that is very much appreciated! There were a couple of days when I had Ben and Hannah on my own all day and they were very trying days with Ben, and Hannah just hung out so patiently and calmly while I put Ben’s needs first.

Hannah’s eating is inconsistent throughout the day, but consistent day-to-day. She starts the day with a meal around 3 or 4 a.m., then wakes up again for a super quick snack sometime between 5-7 a.m. and then sort of cluster feeds for a lot of the morning, hangs out awake mostly all morning, eats lunch and then snoozes all afternoon. Dinnertime is a little tricky – I’ve been preparing dinner in the middle of the afternoon while Hannah sleeps, whenever I’m able to, because come 5:00, Hannah has a 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 hour feeding frenzy. This is a-ok, though, {mostly} because she’s been sleeping 7 or 8 hour stretches at night.

This last month Hannah got to meet 3 of her 4 grandparents and she’ll meet Grandpa Fred next week. She also got to meet her Great Uncle Dave and Aunt Katie, too!

We absolutely adore our sweet Hannah Maxine. She brings our whole family so much joy!

Our Preschooler

Ben started preschool a few weeks ago. We were so excited to have the opportunity to expose Ben to a Spanish-speaking immersion preschool right in our neighborhood. Since this is his first drop-off experience we decided to start small with two mornings per week and we’re toying with the idea of increasing that to four, especially when I go back to work.

The first few days of Ben’s experience at preschool were not stellar. He was less than pleased to be dropped off in a new environment without his parents or Stacey. There were some major meltdowns and stressful mornings for sweet Ben as he adjusted to his new school. It was heartbreaking dropping him off sobbing and then picking him up sobbing at the end of the day. It’s hard to feel right about that and not want to just cuddle him up in my arms and hold him tight and bring him home.

After his third day I had started to get a little concerned about a few things. The student-to-teacher ratios seemed too high, he was having a lot of accidents, I didn’t know how he was doing during the day… mostly little stuff. I scheduled a meeting with the director and learned that the school is just really, really laid back and loosey goosey. We also switched the days of the week we send him so that the ratios are lower since Ben is one of the youngest kids and seems to require a little more attention. The school has a French program as well as a Spanish program and it seems that Ben was gravitating more towards the French teacher, soooo I guess Ben’s learning French now!? Totally practical.

I’m happy to report that day four was our breakthrough day! He cried a little bit when Stacey dropped him off, then when she came to pick him up he didn’t want to leave. I received an update mid-morning from the director saying that he was having a really great day and he had re-joined the Spanish class. Whew!

{Ben loves taking the bus to school! The day I took him I felt like such an urban mom.}

The school hosted a BBQ one evening recently, which we were happy to attend as a way to make Ben more comfortable by spending time there with us, as well as socialize with the other parents and teachers and meet the other kids. Ben was totally comfortable at the school and we left with the same warm fuzzy feeling we got there when we initially did the tour before signing Ben up. The rough start was bound to turn around and it looks like it is doing just that.

Building the Lodge: Windows & Insulation

On our recent weekend in Leavenworth we got to check out the exciting progress that had been made on our house. The windows and insulation are in!

We opted for a modern black window frame inside and out and it looks so sharp! The exterior window trim is in progress and it is stained to match the color of the siding. {Yes, there is a window that’s missing – it was damaged during shipping and has since been installed.}

The house also got insulated since we were there last. I could really tell the scale of the house by seeing the wall-to-wall insulation. I guess our builder’s standard is to insulate between the interior rooms and the insulation contractors needed to come back to finish that.

It was incredible hearing how quiet the house was now that it has windows and insulation. It really changed the feeling in there!

Before our trip to see the house we had a big meeting with our designer to discuss furniture selection and placement. We’ve started narrowing some of the bigger ticket items down, like a sofa, dining table and beds. We did some measuring of the pieces inside the house and refined our needs quite a bit.

We’ve been getting out to The Lodge quite often lately. It seems like more and more decisions need to be made and work needs to be checked and confirmed. I am heading out there in about 10 days to see the progress and give my dad a tour while he’s out visiting. The photos in this post are about 2 weeks old, so we are expecting to see some drywall {or maybe the whole house will be drywalled!} in our next trip.

Grammy & Papa’s Visit

Alex’s parents {also known now as Grammy and Papa} were out here visiting for just shy of two weeks recently. It was so fun having them around – Ben adores them. Stan hadn’t met Hannah yet – safe to say, I think he’s smitten with his first granddaughter.

Their trip coincided with some travel plans our au pair made, so Grammy and Papa were on babysitting duty for a few days during their trip. They enjoyed taking Ben up to the park and playing outside in our yard quite a bit.

Alex and Stan took a day trip out to The Lodge one day early in their stay. They needed to confirm some electrical placements. It sounds like it was a very memorable, special day visiting our mountain house.

We also planned a long weekend out in Leavenworth and stayed right nextdoor to our mountain house in a rental we stay at frequently {wish they’d give us a frequent visitor discount!}. It was a really special time for Ben and Hannah to be with their paternal grandparents. There were lots of Hannah cuddles and goofy, high-energy moments with Ben.

Donna and Stan stayed in an Airbnb house a block from our house in Seattle. It was a very comical experience for them – Donna kept saying someone should write a sitcom about Airbnb experiences gone wrong. The landlord of this house was off her rocker. We had some good laughs and now I know where not to have people stay when they come visit!

While we were staying in Seattle we went out to eat a few times, had a picnic at Madison Park and had some ice cream at Molly Moon’s in our neighborhood. It’s amazing how the times have changed from our before-kids trips to wine country and Bottlehouse with them, now working around nap times and bed times and eating dinner at kid-friendly restaurants at 6 p.m.

We have another round of family visiting coming up shortly! Stay tuned…