Author Archives: Alison Allen

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…

Weekend in Leavenworth

Alex’s parents were here for an extended visit to spend time with Ben and Hannah. We were excited to plan a weekend trip to Leavenworth and stay nextdoor to The Lodge so we could marvel at the landscape and the progress on our new vacation house. The weather was really nice and the company was even better.

It was a relaxing long weekend with few activities planned and lots of quality family time spent.

One of the big highlights for me was our trip to the apple orchard. I was so excited to take Ben to his first orchard. He loved picking apples!

Ben picked the apples right off of the tree and even climbed up the ladder to get some high up in the trees.

We ended up with 10 pounds of apples! Now if only I could get Ben to eat them…. I think we’ll make some applesauce this weekend {he’ll eat that!}. I’ve been enjoying the apples all week – they are delicious! I hope we can make an annual trip to an orchard with our kiddos.

After our trip to the orchard we went into Leavenworth to have lunch and walk around. Naturally we ate at Cured, our favorite sausage restaurant.

It’s hard to come into town and not get a sausage! I’m excited to be able to spend longer stretches of time in Leavenworth so we can start exploring more restaurants instead of coming back to the same one over and over again.

We’re starting to really find our favorite spots in town. I found my new favorite coffee shop, we found a free parking lot and we are exploring the different ice cream shops, too! Next time we’re out there we have a new one to try.

Much of our trip was spent at the rental house. Ben loved playing with his grandparents. They got to play with his new toy cars and his pretend house. He ran around, played baseball with Grammy {he’s really getting good at throwing a ball!}, rode his bike and read some books.

Sleep was a very major challenge for all of us while we were away. The first night Ben went right to bed in his little tot cot. He woke up around 11 and wanted to come in bed with Alex and me, which we usually allow when we’re traveling. Somehow he got a very big burst of energy and stayed awake, literally running up and down the room, bouncing on the bed and being extremely rambunctious, until 2:30 when he finally fell asleep.

The next night Hannah was cold and woke up seeeeveral times throughout the night.

Finally, the third night, Alex and I got to sleep, but Jackson had an upset stomach in the middle of the night and kept his grandparents awake for half the night {sorry!!}.

Ben was not interested in napping while we were at the rental house. The first day he fought it for a solid 2 hours before Alex loaded him in the car with his mom and drove to the grocery store 25 minutes away. He circled town while Donna was shopping and in the end Ben got about a 90 minute nap! We strategically planned our apple orchard trip the next day to allow him to snooze in the car on the way there, then I made the drive home extra long to add some nap time for Ben.

It’s so fun to stay nextdoor to our vacation house. I’ll do a separate post about it, but here’s an updated photo!

We ended our trip with a quick and chilly picnic on the shores of Lake Wenatchee. It was SO windy so we ate quickly then let Ben run around on the beach and do a quick stop at the playground before we piled into the car and headed home.

It gets harder and harder to leave our little piece of mountain paradise every time we go out there. We’re starting to feel so connected to the community and we can’t wait to spend even more time there.

Ben’s First Day of Preschool

And just like that, we sent Ben off for his first day of preschool today!

Ben will be attending a Spanish immersion preschool two mornings a week this school year. We are so excited for him to have the opportunity to learn Spanish, be a bit more independent, make new friends and have new experiences. I’m excited to help out at the school and attend field trips with his class, too.

Today was his first day being dropped off anywhere without his parents or a regular caregiver/grandparent. We were able to tour the school yesterday with him so he met his teacher and he got to play with toys and outside on the swing set and get a chance to get comfortable. He really likes the school and loves the toys.

He was noticeably sad when we left this morning but was able to pull it together and make it through the day {with no accidents, to boot!}. His friend goes to the same school and she was having a very rough time and every time Ben saw her he would get sad. Otherwise it sounds like he did okay. We’ll be in transition mode for a few weeks, I’m sure. Once he gets used to it I think he’ll really love it.

We’re very much looking forward to this new routine and change of pace. I can’t believe we officially have a preschooler!

Ben Quarterly Update: Summer

Ben is 2 1/4 years old! Now that Ben is two I’ll keep up a regular update every quarter, which happens to basically coincide with the end of a season. He is still changing all the time and it is so, so fun to have a two year old. In the last quarter month Ben has had some huge changes – he became a big brother {!!}, moved into a big kid bed, and stopped wearing diapers {this was back in June}.

Ben’s 27-month stats:

  • Weight: !? 28 or 29 pounds maybe?! I tried to weigh him but our scale apparently doesn’t work.
  • Height: Just shy/around 34 inches
  • Number of teeth: 12 {his canines are FINALLY cutting the gums!!!}
  • Clothing size: 2T for tops, mostly 18-24m on the bottom – I’ve even started buying 3T in some tops
  • Shoe size: outgrowing 6 toddler, fits into some size 7 toddler
  • Favorite foods: hummus, nectarines {!!!!!!!!!}, rice cakes, sausage/any pork, rice, eggs, green beans, tuna, hard boiled eggs, pasta w/ sausage + tomato sauce, cheese
  • Favorite activities: playing hide and seek, swimming, climbing, coloring, singing the “wheels on the bus,” dancing, going to music class and “doing running”

At some point recently Ben really turned into a kid. I’m not sure when it happened but he’s a full-blown toddler and really is just a little kid. It’s so fun. Alex and I lament on how quickly he’s grown up and how much we love watching him learn and figure things out and build associations or make connections. It is really the most incredible, joyful experience to raise a child.

The absolute biggest milestone that happened this summer was Ben becoming a big brother. Ben has a very sweet, compassionate personality and I knew he would be a natural when it came to being a big brother. It melts my heart when I get a glimpse of him standing in front of her crib on his tippy toes peering in, checking on his baby sister, or when he comes up to me when I’m holding Hannah and he kisses her on the head or pats her arm. He is so curious and so in love with her.

We never asked him or encouraged him to hold Hannah on his own – we wanted to wait for him to make the request. Well, it finally happened recently and I have never ever seen more pride beaming from someone’s face as I did from big brother Ben when he held Hannah for the first time. It was undoubtedly the sweetest, most special moment of parenthood thus far.

Just after Hannah was born Ben climbed out of his crib for the first time. It was hilarious. Alex and I heard a big thump, some pitter patter, the door to his room open, more pitter patter down the hallway, followed by Ben saying “how did you do that?” over and over again. It was as though he was predicting what we would say when we realized he had not only gotten out of his crib, but he had opened the door too.

Knowing that further climbing out of the crib was imminent, we purchased the conversion kit to turn Ben’s crib into a toddler bed. The transition to a tot bed has been significantly easier than I expected. He’s a kiddo who loves sleep and being cozy with his blanket and stuffed animals, so when we tuck him in at night or nap he just stays in the same spot and falls into dreamland. He’s actually been pretty good about staying in his room until the light turns green – sometimes he needs some reminders, though.

Potty training has been a major theme for the whole summer. Boy am I glad we started when we did! It is quite a process, even though we did the cold turkey approach. Overall, Ben is really doing really well. He transitioned right out of diapers and has been loving wearing underwear. We’ve had periods of setbacks and really exciting success with potty training. I would absolutely not consider him “potty trained” at this point – we still have to remind him basically 100% of the time to go use the potty, but he rarely has accidents. In the last couple days we’ve changed our strategy to encourage him to let us know when he’s got to go – I worry that when he starts school in a couple weeks he won’t tell the teacher and they won’t take enough potty breaks. So, we’ve got a ways to go, and we still need to do overnight potty training, but I’m happy with where we are two months in.

The toddler emotions are definitely running high these days. Ben’s normal demeanor is super easy-going, sweet, fun and excited, and we’re very fortunate to have normal Ben most of the time. That said, he’s still a toddler, so sometimes his sweet attitude quiiiickly changes to full-on whine fest at the suggestion of using the potty, stopping what he’s doing or really it could be anything else. Of course, all of this is to be expected and completely normal – some moments I just can’t help but laugh.

We’ve come to the major toddler milestone that is hitting. Ben learned how to take deep breaths in his music class and that has been such an effective strategy for coping with toddlerhood and regulating his ever-changing emotions. Emotional intelligence is extremely important to Alex and me so we work with him on naming his emotions and talking about how he wants to feel while, of course, acknowledging that it’s okay to feel however he’s feeling.

Ben has been even more affectionate in the last month or so than he had in the past. He was far from a cuddly baby, but somewhere along the line that changed. Now it’s common for him to come and bowl us over with a giant squeeze. He gives the best hugs!

Another one of my favorite parts of toddlerhood for Ben has been his increase in independence. He’s able to play by himself and be very focused on a task or playing with something specific – we’ve done play dough for about 45 minutes before, which is so fantastic! The other day we had friends over and he did such a nice job of entertaining himself while also being involved with us – he figured out the right balance of playing on his own to coming to check in. He’s learning how to dress and undress himself, brush his own teeth, wash himself in the bath or shower and he can put on his own {slip on} shoes. He loves going in his closet and putting on his rain boots and coat all on his own! I feel like since Hannah was born he has grown up so much.

We’ve noticed that Ben is extremely athletic. He has terrific balance and a real knack for climbing. I’m not sure when it happened but at some point this summer he turned into a little monkey. His climbing ability is impressive and terrifying! There is a gymnastics gym not far from us that has “open gym” for tots during the school year so that is most certainly in his future. Once he’s old enough for gymnastics classes I’ll be first in line to sign up!

Ben absolutely loves music and dancing. It is so fun to see his genuine interests start to form. He loves to sing songs, go to his music class once a week, listen to music and dance. Sometimes if a song with a good beat comes on in the background he’ll stop whatever he’s doing and start dancing. It is so funny! He and Alex have been watching videos on the iPad of people playing different instruments. I have a feeling piano lessons/some other kind of music lessons are in our not-so-distant future.

This summer in particular Alex and Ben have become two peas in a pod. They’ve always had a terrific connection but it’s ever so apparent as of late. It is so heartwarming to see their bond and how much like Alex Ben is becoming. I think a lot of Ben’s outgoing, entertainer personality comes from Alex’s side of the family. I love watching the two of them be goofy together or how excited Ben is when dada comes home from work at the end of the day.

Ben has had such a fun summer – his tan lines prove he’s spent practically every waking moment outside! Here are some more photos from the summer:

Getting Back in Shape!

Oofta – it’s been a while since I’ve really, really exercised. Throughout my pregnancy I maintained my once per week Pilates lesson, but that was about the extent of my exercise. And even that was very limited and mainly spent stretching. Until close to the very end of my pregnancy I couldn’t really even walk more than a few blocks due to back pain. So! Now that I’m 5 weeks out from having a baby I felt ready to get back into exercising again.

I signed up for a 5k at the end of September and a 10k at the end of October to help motivate me and give me something to work toward/train for. I’ve got a ways to go before I’ll be ready for either. Hannah and I have been going for really wonderful long walks every day. And! I went for my first run last night, which was so, so nice! I surprised myself by running for just under 16 minutes without stopping {my “short loop” around our neighborhood}. Jackson made for an excellent cheerleader.

In addition, I signed up for Stroller Strides, an exercise class for mamas where you can bring your stroller-bound littles. There’s classes every morning of the week and so far Hannah and I have been twice. It’s a really tough workout, especially being only 5 weeks out from being pregnant, so it’ll help kick start me getting back in shape quickly!

So far I’m really enjoying Stroller Strides, both for the workout, but also for the community aspect. I’ve met lots of other mamas with babies really close to Hannah’s age and most of them have older toddlers, too. Maybe Ben will join us one day too!?

I have a ways to go before I’ll be able to say I’m back in shape but it is so so nice to be on my way there. I love the variety I’m getting with running + Stroller Strides + Pilates! I really missed exercising!

Mama Moments

I’ve been “moming” 100% of the time lately. That’s what happens when you’ve got a newborn, I guess! I have had some extremely sweet and special mama moments over these last couple months, and in particular, the last few weeks, that I really want to remember them.

{Most recently, Ben and I had our first “date” since Hannah was born. It was perfect. We went to Madison Park and got a coffee/steamed milk and a pastry then walked across the street to play at the park. Super normal day but oh so special for both of us.}

{My first afternoon with both kids by myself! The first hour {while Ben was contained in the stroller} was totally calm, the rest was total chaos! It was wonderful, though, and I loved it.}

{The best, best, best mama moment EVER was right here. My two littles holding hands. Heart melted.}

{My mama bear hat + baby girl out at our mountain house!}

{No explanation needed!}

{This I call “moming with migraine” – Alex set up a zero gravity chair outside so I could feed/hold Hannah, relax, get some fresh air and see Ben after being gone for the whole day. Migraine was gone in about 30 minutes after parking it here with my two littles.}

{This sweet baby girl and I have had a wonderful first month together. Many of our outings have been in search of coffee!}

{This boy has so much of my heart.}

{I can’t not include a picture from when Hannah was born. She and I have been having the best snuggles. I can’t get over how sweet and perfect my baby girl is!}

{Being a mama to these two littles is basically the best thing ever. I am so grateful for this season of my life!}

Building the Lodge: Design Inspiration

We have been dreaming about what our mountain house will look like for what feels like an eternity. Before we found our piece of property we had been scouring the real estate listings in the area and only growing more disappointed when we didn’t find anything. Eventually we decided to build our house so we could create our dream vacation home from scratch. It’s been a long process so far – it’s been over a year since we bought our lot – and we’ve still got several more months to go {fingers crossed we can be in by Christmas!}. I thought I’d share a bit about the inspiration behind the design of our house.

{here’s the shell of our house!}

The overall “look” we’ve been going for is sort of our definition of mountain modern. We want the house to have a lot of modern elements and finishes with rustic touches throughout. We don’t want it to feel too “cabiny” but we also don’t want it to feel like a house, so hopefully when we’re all done it’ll feel just right – like a mountain modern lodge.

The exterior finish ideas came from some houses we found on Houzz – our siding is a dark gray with some blue hues, accented with orangy/brown trim, a lighter gray roof, brown deck and black windows. The trim around the windows will be the same color as the siding so that the windows will pop and be more of the focal point, rather than the trim. The deck railing will have black metal posts/railing, then the center will be made of cables to avoid obstructing our view. Here’s a house with similar exterior colors that inspired us:

{similar siding color to this house, very similar stain color.}

Moving inside, we wanted to create big, open gathering spaces for friends and family to hang out while they come visit us. It was important to us to capture the view of the river bluff as much as possible, so we designed a wall of windows with a double sliding glass door right in the middle. The slider will lead out to the deck.

{we’ll have a big floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace with wood ceilings in the great room.}

The house has five bedrooms, including a bunk room so the kids can pile in and get cozy. The bedrooms are modest/small in size so that the bulk of the space in the house can be in the living areas.

{we’ll have two sets of bunk beds in the bunk room and maybe some fun bean bags or kids chairs – I’m super excited about the bunk room!}

I’m so, so excited to see what the great room/kitchen/dining room will look like when they’re complete. It is a very tall, open space with a lot of beautiful natural light coming in. There’s a lot of possibilities here, as well as a lot of challenges working with so much height.

Here are some photos we’ve used for inspiration with the kitchen:

{we love the open shelves with white subway tile + dark grout on the walls.}

{this is a very similar layout to our kitchen – complete with the subway tile + open shelves. we also love the waterfall edge of the counter top on the island and the wood on the front of the island.}

{Alex is obsessed with these dark green cabinets. We think they’ll look great against the white subway tile back splash and a beautiful gray quartz counter. I also love the floors in this house.}

And our master bathroom will be based off of this design, with similar finishes in the other two bathrooms:

{we fell in love with this bathroom design – we have selected a fun patterned floor tile for the master bathroom and a complimentary tile for the main floor bathroom and plan to pull in some similar design elements. we’ll use a light gray penny tile in the shower floor with white subway tile in the master, then a fun white tile in the main floor bathroom above the tub. the basement bathroom will have a beautiful “crushed stone” looking floor tile and white subway tile above the tub. all three bathrooms will have a beautiful dark gray quartz counter. the vanities will be knotty cherry, a wood local to the Pacific Northwest, and a light stain.}

We haven’t chosen floors yet; however, we love, love, love this wide plank, lighter wood floor:

{Alex is also obsessed with the leather chair featured in this photo – I think it’s safe to expect it to end up in our living room?}

Storage is a big deal to me. We’ve got a lot of outdoor gear and I have a feeling our gear collection is only going to grow and keep growing as our kids get bigger. We’re using some fun design elements to create a custom “boot bench” on one side of the front entry, then there will be a big open closet on the other side. We also have two large storage rooms down in the basement.

The basement will be the kid zone and sort of the hangout area. We’re planning on having some cozy seating, a big TV and a wet bar, along with a kids corner. Maybe after the kids get older we’ll put in some kind of a game table {Foosball? pool table? shuffleboard?}.

We have a lot of decisions to make still, including furniture and decor selection and landscaping {!!!}, and I think we have some fun ideas and inspiration to draw from to pull everything together. We can hardly wait to see the finished product!

Hannah is One Month Old!

Well that went fast! I can not believe Hannah is already a month old. She is such a dream of a baby and we absolutely adore her.

Hannah 9 pounds 8 ounces {50th percentile!} and at her two-week checkup she was 19.5 inches tall. She won’t have another well-child checkup until two months {apparently second-time parents don’t need the one-month checkup!}.

She already burst out of newborn size clothes and is comfortably in 0-3 month now. I’m trying to get as much wear out of the adorable 0-3 month summer stuff I overbought for her. It is SO FUN having a little girl to dress.

At this point I’m in love with most things pink {especially light pink} and really not feeling much/any frill or super girly stuff. I’m more into the low-key casual baby girl clothes for my little girl, especially since she spends so much time either swaddled or wrapped up in the carrier. Dresses are just too bulky for my taste right now. Who knew!? I’ve been loving cute little low-profile soft headbands for her when we go out and about, too. {And just for the record, I have discovered the absolute best baby/swaddle blankets: Bestaroo!}

Our days right now are filled with lots and lots of eating, lots and lots of sleeping, some tummy time, tons of snuggles, walks {mainly to the coffee shop!}, hugs and kisses from big brother Ben and lots of time in the carrier. She is starting to be awake a lot more and is really alert. I’m so impressed how quickly she’s building up neck strength and head control.

Hannah is eating every 2-4 hours right now, depending on the time of day. She’s been able to really regulate her overnight meals quite nicely lately and does a meal around 10 p.m., 2 a.m. and then 5 or 6 a.m.. During the day she’s eating more like every 2-3 hours. It’s nice that she’s getting to be a bit more predictable and consistent with her meal times. Alex started giving her a bottle most nights last week which has been really nice for him to feel more involved with her {and for me to get a little more sleep!}.

Next up is getting on a good routine with naps and bedtime so that we can really build some consistency for us all. That said, I think flexibility will be super important with our baby #2 since our toddler rules the roost.

As a one-month old, Hannah loves being swaddled or cozied up in the baby carrier {we have the Cuddle Bug wrap}. We just introduced her to the pacifier and it was love at first sight, as we had expected. She is starting to want to be included more and loves being carried around or just sitting in the rock & play. Luckily, she also loves taking walks and seems to enjoy the bassinet on our stroller. She’s not really a fan of being in the car seat {can’t blame her there!}.

It’s going to be so fun to see what Hannah starts doing in her second month. We’ve got a lot to look forward to with this sweet girl!

 

 

Building the Lodge: The Guts

We’ve hit an exciting milestone – most of the “guts” of our mountain house are complete! We have plumbing, HVAC and electrical! It’s really cool walking through the house seeing what hides behind the walls.

Two days before baby Hannah was born Alex and I made a day trip out to the house to do an electrical walk through with the electrician and pick the spot where all of the outlets and switches go – it was a very long day but a really cool process getting to make so many big decisions about the electrical.

The house is basically all framed – they’re finishing up the fireplace framing now and that’s pretty much it. We are really starting to be able to picture the finished home.

Alex and his mom were out at the Lodge during her recent trip out here and were surprised to see that the floor of the deck had already been installed. They loved sitting out on the deck, enjoying a beer, and imagining the future of relaxing and lounging out there. The deck begins off of the great room, looks out over the river bluff and the valley, then wraps almost halfway around the house. There will be two stairways – one off the front/big sliding doors, and the other off of the kitchen door/outdoor eating area, which will lead down to the hot tub.

We chose a medium/dark brown Trex decking for the floor, then there will be a cable railing with black metal framing/supports. It gets SO HOT out there in the summer that we opted to have a covered portion of the deck to give us some reprieve from the heat in the summer, or from the rain/snow in the winter. We’ll install a ceiling fan and some heaters, too.

Alex and I made an unexpected trip out to the house last weekend to approve the electrical locations and meet with our cabinet maker to design the kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. It was so fun to see the deck – we brought some camp chairs and had lunch out there and we got to bring Hannah to the house for the first time.

All of the exterior finishes have been selected and many of the interior finishes have been chosen. We’re working with our designer to make the final decisions and start to really pull everything together. It’s been really fun to see the finishing touches and imagine what everything will look like when it’s complete. We still have a lot of decisions to make but it feels like we’re making tremendous progress!

Hannah’s Newborn Photo Shoot

I’m so excited to share some of our favorite photos from Hannah’s newborn photo shoot. Our family photographer, Kim, came to our house when Hannah was a week and a half old and captured some sweet moments with our whole family, as well as some of just baby Hannah and a few of Alex and me with Hannah. Ben was such a trooper for the photo shoot and we got some great smiles from him, too.