Author Archives: Alison Allen

Summer Time!

This has been one of my most memorable summers ever. Our little family filled it up with hours upon hours at the playground, trips to the beach, Friday strolls through the farmers market, walks with the dog, regional travel {and bigger trips for Alex} and a whole slew of new experiences. When you step back and look at it, many of the experiences with Ben were pretty standard and low-key, and even so, they were so memorable for me. We kicked off summer with a bang out in Leavenworth where we celebrated Ben’s first birthday over Memorial Day weekend.

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One of my favorite summer Friday traditions became going to Madison Park, the neighborhood just to the north of ours, and either hitting the beach or the playground {often both!}, stopping at the bakery for mama’s coffee and to grab some pastries for Saturday morning. Then we’d go down to the farmers market in the afternoon and pick up some produce and gorgeous flowers.

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When summer started, Ben was a pro-crawler who loved going in the swings at the park. Quickly he warmed up to the sandbox and grew to love playing in the sand and observing the big trucks or other older kids.

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By the end of the summer Ben knew how to walk so he was able to cruise around independently at the park. He began to climb the play structures, push around the dump trucks or the tricycle, and still has a soft spot for the swing. We continuously say that the playground has become our second home. We spent close to 2 hours per day there – we are so grateful to have such a nice playground so close to our house.

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His favorite park past time, though, still remains playing with the wood chips… And yes, he is generally without one shoe. I don’t understand how he can get his shoe off so quickly. One time I counted that I put it back on 13 times before I gave up.

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We didn’t make it out on too many hikes this summer, but the ones we did get on were great! We love our new hiking backpack and look forward to getting plenty of use out of it.

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Per usual, we squeezed in some travel. Alex attended three bachelor parties and had some travel for work, so he wins the award for the most summer trips. Ben and I met Alex up in Vancouver for a night, which was a real highlight for me. Otherwise, Alex and I took a trip just the two of us to Sonoma, then we had a family trip to Seabrook, Washington.

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{Enjoying a walk through Vancouver!}

{Enjoying a walk through Vancouver!}

{Vancouver highlight: the pool at the Fairmont!}

{Vancouver highlight: the pool at the Fairmont!}

{Seabrook on the Washington coast}

{Seabrook on the Washington coast}

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Ben became quite fond of water over the summer. We spent many a day on the beach, at an outdoor pool or a kids wading pool or in our backyard playing with the kiddie pool or splash pad. Ben loves to splash around and appears to be fearless. I’m hoping to get him into a swimming program this fall.

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Ben also got to go on his first boat ride this summer! He seemed to really enjoy it and everyone who was there agreed we had never seen him be so still.

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Summer is unofficially ending today… I will always look back so, so fondly on the many memories our little family created together. This was a summer to remember forever.

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Ben is 15 Months Old!

My baby is really not a baby anymore. Last weekend he turned into a toddler before my eyes and today he is 15 months old. This little boy is making leaps and bounds right now – I can’t keep up with all of the changes. Ben is the light of our life and we absolutely adore how sweet and friendly he is, what an inquisitive personality he has and how independent and determined he is becoming.

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We won’t have his 15 month checkup until the end of September so I don’t have an updated weight or height. He’s probably somewhere between 21 and 22 pounds and I’m guessing 29 or 30 inches tall.

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Developmentally, Ben is on-point! We had an evaluation with an occupational therapist {this is a really incredible benefit we receive because he was a preemie – I wish everyone would take advantage of seeing an OT for their babe!} and learned that Ben is right where he is supposed to be, developmentally, which is always a concern with a premature baby. We got some great tips for how to keep helping him thrive.

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Over the last month the biggest change we have seen in Ben is his ability to walk. We made the call that he was a walker at the very end of 13 months and as a 14 month old he has really started to master it. Watching Ben learn how to walk was one of the coolest things I’ve experienced.

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It was so much different than seeing him learn how to crawl or roll over or sit up. It took so much determination and he was SO proud of himself when he would progress. He has been practicing different falling techniques and we could tell that he was trying to figure out how to turn by doing it over and over and over. Today, as an official 15 month old, he is really sturdy on his feet and is able to navigate transitions {i.e. rugs, steps up or down} really well.

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Independence has been a huge change recently, too. We’re now able to leave him in his room for several minutes to play by himself while we do something else and most of the time he stays fully engaged in whatever he was doing. He has been loving looking at books with one picture per page {great for vocabulary development!}, playing with his dump truck or anything with music.

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We sort of caved and let him play on the iPad. The bigger “cave” was getting the gigantic “tot proof” iPad case. It’s ridiculous, but I think he could throw it out the window and it would survive. He really likes to listen to music and he loves touching things on the screen, so one day last week I let him mess around on a baby app. We’re certainly not intending on this being a regular thing yet, but the iPad will definitely come on our upcoming plane ride!

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Communication has been so cool over the last few months. Ben’s vocabulary in actual words {not just sign language} is increasing – his favorite words are: pasta, cracker and kitty and he not only can say the word, but he says it correctly in context. It is so neat to watch him figure things out and to see that he can understand what I’m saying.

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One day recently I told him to sit down while he was in the bath tub and before I could help him sit down, he sat down. It’s moments like that that I have to sort of take a step back and realize how much this kid can understand and how much he’s growing up {insert mama tear here!}.

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Ben has transitioned over the last month to having only one nap a day, which has been fantastic. That means more time to take longer trips up to the playground! How Ben plays at the playground seems to change on a weekly basis. His favorite things are playing in the wood chips or the sand, playing with the dump trucks or the tricycle. He also loves watching the big kids play.

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Ben has really become a water baby! I’m starting to wonder if he’s part fish – he is so comfortable in water and he loves splashing his hands and kicking his feet. We’ve had a lot of fun with the kiddie pool and splash pad in our backyard, wading pools and outdoor pools around the city and going to the beach. Oh, and the bath, but he’s getting bored in the bathtub, so we’ve got to step it up, I guess.

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Over the last month, sleep has been a big focus for us. One of our goals was to get Ben to totally put himself to sleep. We absolutely achieved that goal, and it happened much easier and faster than we expected. So, now Ben is putting himself to sleep independently and has been sleeping basically better than ever.

{B discovered the Nest camera when he woke up! I thought this screen shot was hilarious!}

{I thought this screen shot of Ben discovering the Nest camera was hilarious!}

Last weekend when Alex was out of town, Ben “officially” became a toddler. Everyone always says it’s a game changer when the tot starts walking – while I knew things would change I really didn’t expect it to be any different in terms of how fast Ben would be. Yeah, that was naive. Ben was a super fast crawler but now I literally can turn my back and not actually know where he is 2 seconds later.

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He’s vertical now and at eye level with our wine glasses hanging up in the hutch in the dining room, which he likes to touch. From there, he goes to the dog’s water dish and throws something {half the time, my keys} into it. Then he runs in the bathroom and opens the locked cabinet door, and then pushes open the toilet seat, then pulls the toilet paper from the roll and dumps out the trash before opening all one of the drawers and then tries to close the bathroom door and accidentally runs it over his toes or closes it on his fingers. And then he’s off to our bedroom where he pulls open a drawer so fast it sends him flying backwards. And then he’s in his room trying to open the diaper pail {not hard to figure out!}. Now he’s on the other side of the house playing ball with Jackson. From there, he’s in the kitchen pulling open the pots and pans cupboard and taking all of the lids out and clangs them together like cymbals. And that’s over the span of 2 minutes. Yes, I am perpetually exhausted these days.

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We are really looking forward to starting Ben’s cooperative preschool in a few weeks. It’s a play-based school program and I’m excited to get some new ideas of things to do with him and have the opportunity to observe him playing with other kids. I think he’s going to love the social time – he is so friendly and seems to love being around other people.

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One of the bittersweet parts of Ben turning 15 months old is that we have decided, per the pediatrician’s suggestion, to be done giving him a bottle. It was really sad knowing that it was the last bottle we’ll ever give him, but it’s also exciting knowing that he’s growing up and turning into a little boy. He doesn’t need the bottle anymore and he is eating better than ever, loves food and is nailing it at restaurants lately.

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It still blows my mind how rapidly Ben is changing and how every month I keep saying it is still getting better and better. I really can’t imagine what changes are coming next for Ben, but everyone keeps saying it really does keep getting more and more fun.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Holy cats! August is shaping up to be NUTS for us. We have SO much going on this month it’s going to be hard to keep up! I even started writing in our calendar who is taking which car on what days so that we can manage everything right down to the nitty gritty details.

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We started off the month by buying a piece of land over in Leavenworth, a quaint mountain town about 2 hours from Seattle that we spend a lot of time visiting. We’ve been looking for a vacation home in the mountains to share with Alex’s parents for more than a year and recently decided to change course and build a house.

{The view from our new property!}

{The view from our new property that overlooks a field with a giant rock wall and mountains in the background.}

{This is where we expect the house to go.}

{This is where we expect the house to go.}

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We’re elated to have found a beautiful, flat 3.1 acre property to call our own! We expect to close at the end of the month and will likely start building next summer. We had hoped to break ground this fall if possible, but it seems like holding off until next year makes more sense. We don’t want to rush into it too much. That means, though, that we might be spending Christmas 2018 in our new mountain house! More on this to come later, I’m sure.

{Holding up his computer after signing the offer we made on the lot! We were so excited!}

{Holding up his computer after signing the offer we made on the lot! We were so excited!}

In other news, lately Alex has been suggesting that we should get Ben some more socialization with other kids during the day. While he gets out to the playground most days and story time at least once a week and a play date most weeks he doesn’t have the same social experiences that he would have if he went to daycare.

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I’ve got no qualms about daycare, it simply works better for our schedules to have the flexibility of a nanny. So, after scouring the Internet and polling some of my mama friends, we have enrolled Ben in a preschool co-op that starts in September. This preschool has “classes” for one year olds where it’s basically unstructured play time together {they have more formal classes for 2, 3 and 4-year olds). The class meets twice a week for 90 minutes each day. Not too big of a commitment. I’m really looking forward to starting – because it’s a co-op, all families have to get involved to help run the school, so I’m excited to meet other parents in the area and get Ben some time with other kids. Buuttttt that also means that each family has a “job” {I’m the designated “worker” in our family} sooooo you’re looking at either the new Halloween party planner, spring picnic party planner or sunshine chair!

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Another child care note worth mentioning is that our nanny has left us for a three week trip. We’ve got backup care scheduled, but you never know how that will turn out. I have a feeling it’ll be a mama + Ben month.

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Nearly a year ago, now, we started going to our parents group, called PEPS {Program for Early Parent Support}, which met once a week for 12 weeks. We built a really nice community with other families close by who have babies the same age as Ben. The PEPS organization asked if I’d be interested in facilitating a new group and because we didn’t have enough going on, I said yes! Despite our crazy schedules I’m really, really looking forward to leading a PEPS group, which starts in a couple weeks. It will be one evening per week where I get to facilitate a meeting between 8 families with newborns. It will be so fun to think back to those crazy days with a newborn!

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Alex has two bachelor parties to attend this month – one in Whistler and one down in Portland. So, it’s really going to be a mama + Ben month!

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The weather has been hot, hot, hot lately. We’ve had this really weird smog clouding the region the last 10 days from wildfires up in British Columbia. I heard that our air quality right now is worse than Beijing! We can’t hardly see across the lake and you can literally see the smoke clinging to sights off in the distance. It’s really strange. That being said, I haven’t gone for any runs in the last week and Alex hasn’t ridden his bike, so we’re ready for the heat wave to break and the smoke to clear! I’m ready for fall!

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Ben is 14 Months Old!

Without a doubt the development and changes in the last month have been more significant than any other month in the last 14. We’ve got a little boy on our hands!

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This last month has been filled with growth – physical and developmental! I swear Ben grew 3 inches this month {he has his next checkup at 15 months, where they’ll measure his height}. He weighs around 21 pounds but it’s been a while since we’ve gotten him on the scale. He has 6 teeth {2 on the bottom, 4 on top}. Finally his hair is growing too – he has these little sections in the back that are becoming curly and his hair is getting more and more blond. Oh the cuteness!! He also has a major tan line – I guess he tans like his mama! His little legs are quite tan from sticking out when he’s in the stroller {and yes, we do put sunscreen on him, and yes I use the good stuff}.

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In the last month or so, one of the biggest things that Ben has been working on is communicating effectively with us. He is getting so good at pointing at what he wants. Sometimes he’s even patient while we get it for him! This is so unbelievably helpful and has cut down on some whining. He is becoming more and more independent and wants to do things on his own sometimes.

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Ben is really mastering some of the sign language we’re using with him. He learned the sign for “milk” a couple months ago and more recently can sign “water” and “all done” and “more” – all very, very helpful.

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Speaking of water – this last month has been a huge, huge transition for Ben with regard to swapping milk in a bottle with water in a sippy cup. The Munchkin 360 sippy cup and kids Nalgene water bottle {without the vent} have been his two favorites. He can drink from both cups completely on his own!

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As a 13-month old he smoothly transitioned from 4 bottles a day to 2, one when he wakes up in the morning and one when he goes to sleep. He drinks 10-12 ounces of whole milk total in a day now. Weaning him off of milk was significantly easier than I expected. There were some tough days earlier on in the transition but it was pretty smooth, especially once he figured out the sippy cup. I think that was the most helpful factor.

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Milk is no longer an important source of calories for Ben. It’s even getting to the point where the bottle isn’t even what he wants or needs when he’s looking for comfort. Our pediatrician recommended being done with the bottle altogether by 15 months, so I guess that means that’s coming this next month.

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Since Ben is getting his calories and nutrients from real food now he’s eating like a little champ! In the last week we got to the point where Ben has started to essentially eat about half of an adult-size portion. I’m still very much adjusting to this – it’s a huge change of mindset to be preparing that much more food.

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Ben started out as a 13-month old who was learning to stand up on his own, took some steps mid-month and then finished out the month by officially beginning to walk! It has been such an exciting month for Mr. Ben!

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Sleep for Ben hasn’t been stellar this last month. I attribute it to Alex and me leaving Ben for four days when we were in California. For most of the last month he regressed to waking up once in the night, seemingly for some comfort and cuddles, and quite often arose for the day by/before 5 a.m. Not his best month for sleep, but certainly not his worst.

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After this change in his sleep {previously he had slept through the night at least 6 of 7 nights a week for at least two months consistently} we played around and re-worked his bedtime routine a bit. I’ve been a big fan of Elizabeth Pantley’s “No Cry Sleep Solution” – I know I’m in the minority but I’m just never going to get on the “cry it out” bandwagon.

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We revisited the book and are re-implementing some of the strategies {we had done this several months ago} and we are seeing positive changes. We also got him a night light and started shutting Ben’s door at night. Ben is going down to bed really well and he puts himself to sleep in his crib {with company} and is starting to put himself back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night. All of these things he had done previously but made a major regression at the end of 12 months.

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As of the last few days, Ben’s bedtime is 7 p.m. and his wake time is around 6:30 a.m., give or take about 20 minutes. We’re really happy to be back on track!

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In the last month Ben has started mimicking us SO much. He’s repeating words left and right and he’s begun imitating what we do sometimes, too. Ben can blow kisses and point to his tummy when asked where it is. He mainly repeats food words – “pasta” is his favorite. He absolutely loves to play peek-a-boo. It’s the cutest thing!

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We did a lot of traveling this last month. Ben came with us to Leavenworth for a day trip. We went up to Camano Island to spend the 4th of July with our friends. Ben and I met Alex way up north in Vancouver, British Columbia for a quick getaway, and then last weekend we went to Seabrook, Washington for a beach vacation. We love getting out and about, but we’re just as content to be at home and spend the afternoon up at our neighborhood park.

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This kiddo is turning into a little boy right before our eyes. I am so excited to see what Ben’s 15th month brings us – I have a feeling some more teeth and running are upon us this month…

We’ve Got a Walker!

It’s official – we’re making the call… Ben is walking! Check out the video here!

The first time Ben stood up on his own {as in went from a sit to a stand without help} was the weekend of the 4th of July. Since then he’s been practicing standing up, only a little bit, and walking while holding our hands.

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About two or three weeks ago Ben took his first steps – it almost seemed like a fluke! We kept trying to get him to repeat and he seldom would. Then last weekend we really practiced with him and he kept taking more and more steps. It seemed like he didn’t understand that he could walk – whenever he’d be standing and we’d say “come here” he would get down on his hands and knees and crawl over to us.

Finally last week on Tuesday I was really getting into it and kept practicing and cheering him on and I could tell it clicked – he finally got it that he could take steps on his own! Watching him figure out that he could walk has been one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. His eyes were so bright and wide and he was smiling ear to ear – he was SO proud of himself!

Check out the video here of him on Tuesday {it’s too long to embed here, I guess}.

He has been getting stronger and more stable with taking steps all week and then finally today we made the call to say he is walking because he went from sitting to standing to walking 100% on his own with no support or help at all.

Ben’s balance and ability to walk very far is still very limited – the most I’ve seen is about 10 steps. I have a feeling, though, that in two weeks he’s going to be running! We are mentally preparing for lots of falling, bumps and bruises – hopefully he’ll get the hang of it quickly!

Family Vacation to Seabrook, Washington

For our big family summer vacation this year we headed west to Seabrook, Washington, a very small town on the Washington coast. This was our second vacation as a little family of three and it was everything I had hoped it would be and more.

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Seabrook is a really funny little town. It’s very new and was created with a master development plan about 10 years ago. It was modeled after the Truman Show and Pleasantville, so it has that “everything is perfect” look and feel. The houses and the town are so cute – the style is similar to a Cape Cod or Nantucket home. It oozes with east coast charm.

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Perhaps the best part of the town is the location – it’s situated up high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the Washington coast. The beach goes on forever!

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Our trip started mid-day Friday with our sloooowwwwww drive to the coast. It’s been a while since we had ventured south on I-5 on a Friday in the summer and boy did we regret waiting until noon to leave the house. Thankfully Ben has turned into a little trooper in the car and he hung in there right along with us.

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We got all of our glitches out of the way for the whole trip upon check-in. Our house wasn’t ready when we arrived – they needed extra time to clean it. Then, once we could finally check in, the code on the lock wouldn’t work. By some miracle we found a slightly open window and Alex was able to enter the house. It was a little bit of a stressful start to the vacation, but thankfully all the kinks were worked out once we got inside.

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Over the years Alex and I have stayed in a ton of vacation rentals. Usually the photos make them look nicer than they are in reality. Much to my relief, the house was even better than the pictures! It was by far the nicest vacation rental we’ve ever stayed in. It was fantastic!!

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We were so enamored with the town that we spent most of the afternoon and evening exploring and getting settled in. I couldn’t get enough of the houses in the town!

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Coincidentally, our friends Kara and Jake and their daughter Maya, were in Seabrook the same weekend. Even more of a coincidence – the house they rented was across the park {about 30 feet} from our house – essentially our front porches overlooked each others! We loved being able to spend some good time with them the first evening by the campfire and then getting Maya and Ben to play together in the grass the next day.

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Our first trip to the beach happened on Saturday morning. I strapped Ben to my back {he’s officially too heavy to wear in the carrier on my front!}, Alex hooked Jackson up to his leash and we headed out to the beach.

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The Washington and Oregon coasts are known for some pretty extreme fog and Saturday was no exception. There is something eerily comforting about the dense fog along the coast – it’s really calming and relaxing. Maybe that’s the Seattleite in me talking? We weren’t turned off by the light drizzle – it was surprisingly pleasant.

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Once we got down to the beach we realized how unbelievably expansive it was. I don’t even know how to describe the scope other than to say from the moment we hit the edge of the beach until we got to the water it was a solid 10 minute walk across the sand. The beach went on and on and on and on – it was by far the biggest beach I’ve ever been to. You could have walked for hours in either direction.

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When we got closer to the water we could see crabs washed up on shore. There were clams and sand dollars, too! It was weirdly beautiful in its own way.

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The water was absolutely frigid – no swimming for us! Jackson didn’t think twice about the chilly temperature, though, and he charged right into the waves after his ball.

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One of our favorite moments happened on Saturday. We hit the town to check out the little Saturday market and happened upon a quaint little wine bar. Naturally we stopped in for a flight and a cheese board. We shared the cheese and sopressata with Ben {and kept the wine to ourselves} and he ate almost the entire thing on his own. Somewhere in the last month or two he has become such a stellar eater! It is an absolute blast watching him explore the world of food.

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Later in the day, the skies cleared and then when we woke up on Sunday morning we were delighted to see the bright blue skies were still there and the sun was out.

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While the sun was out in full force on Sunday, so was the wind. It was slightly bothersome up in town and at our house but when we got down to the beach it felt like the wind was blowing at gale force! We were so looking forward to hanging out on the beach and we weren’t about to let a mini hurricane stop us from setting up shop, even if it was only for about 15 minutes.

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Before our trip, we bought a little beach tent that was supposed to withstand a lot of wind. We were pleasantly surprised at both how easy it was to set up and the fact that it stayed up, given the wind. We hunkered down and let Ben play in the sand for a short while before taking a little walk on the beach.

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We were all absolutely covered in sand – I can still feel it in my pores. Ben had a goth look going on because his face was all drooly and then it got muddy from the sand. It was pretty funny! He couldn’t have cared less about the sand – it had to have been all up in his eyes too. He was having a blast nonetheless.

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Our last full day in Seabrook was very relaxing and largely spent outside.

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I will be forever grateful for this long weekend together in Seabrook. Family vacations are so important to us. It gives us a chance to spend time together, reconnect and be present and removed from the distractions of everyday life. This trip was perfect in every way and I really wouldn’t change a thing.

Quick Trip to Vancouver

Alex has been going up to work in Vancouver lately. One of his trips happened to end on a Friday, so Ben and I decided to head north and join him for a quick International trip.

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Alex and I both love, love, love Vancouver – it feels like a big, urban city, yet intimate. Surprisingly, the population of Vancouver is very similar to Seattle {about 650,000}, but it actually feels like a big city. We both agreed that this is one of the only other cities we think we would live in {and boy would that be incredible!}. I think it has to do with the parallels to Seattle and of course its proximity to Whistler.

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This trip we stayed on the waterfront at the Fairmont Waterfront, right across the harbor from Stanley Park {Vancouver’s version of Central Park}. I loved that location – it was close to shopping, restaurants, the Gastown neighborhood, Stanley Park and, obviously, the water.

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Ben and I were on our own for most of the trip. I got very organized and packed up in advance and then just in time for Ben’s morning nap, we were on the road. My one regret: not stopping for coffee on our way out of town!

Similarly to most kids, or so I’ve heard, Ben is not particularly fond of being strapped into his car seat for any length of time, let alone 2-3 hours. For our drive to Vancouver, Ben was testing out his new car seat for the first time. It seemed like he may have been more comfortable, which helped make it a successful drive.

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Additionally, I opted to pack a little “car bag” of fun toys I could just throw to him in the car seat if he got antsy and much to my surprise, he didn’t even need any of them! I loved my idea, nonetheless, and will certainly plan on doing that for our next car trip.

Another new idea I had was to stop at a playground for a picnic lunch and to stretch our legs. While I was waiting in line to cross the border I searched for a nearby playground and ended up finding Redwood Park in Surrey, the town on the other side of the border. This park was AWESOME. Ben was too little for most of the equipment but he sat on the grass watching all of the big kids play and loved practicing walking {while holding my hand} all over the park.

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Edina had packed us a little bento box lunch the day before and Ben loved his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When did my baby become a little boy!?!?!

Side note: one of the first things I noticed at the park was how nicely the other moms were dressed! Boy was I glad I opted against the cute and comfy athleisure get-up I had initially considered wearing. I saw ZERO leggings – you read that right – ZERO leggings – at the park! This theme carried through our trip – the folks up in Vancouver sure know how to pull themselves together.

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Our first stop after getting checked into our hotel in Vancouver was the pool! This pool was fabulous and overlooked Coal Harbour with the Coast Mountains in the background. It was absolutely stunning and the weather was perfect!

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Ben LOVED swimming. We have a little swim float that he sits in and he was happily kicking and splashing as we cruised around the pool. Everyone was getting such a kick out of his adorable giggles and cheesy grin.

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We had such a fun day together. We strolled along the waterfront and watched the seaplanes take off, gawked at the cruisers {we stayed across the street from the cruise terminal} and practiced waving at strangers. We even had some gelato 🙂

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While we have taken several trips, this was the first time we had stayed in a standard hotel room with Ben. Oh let me tell you how un-glamorous it was {even though our hotel was super nice!}. Let me set the record now: I plan on not ever staying in a standard hotel room with a baby/7:00 bedtime child again!

In an ideal hotel set-up, we’d have a separate bedroom for sleeping children, along with a refrigerator that can accommodate bottles and snacks. A super perk would be a high chair with a tray, but we’d compromise with a high chair + a table that the high chair can pull up to, thus allowing the child to feed himself.

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Given that we had no good high chair set up {after we finished dinner, the hotel staff brought up a standard restaurant high chair but there was no good table to pull it up to} we had several picnics on the floor. It was pretty cute, other than the mess that was made when Ben picked up his lunch box and started waving it excitedly in the air. It also made me think of this sweet video about a parent’s normal being a child’s magic. I really enjoyed this trip for the opportunity to be creative and think outside my normal parenting box.

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After a really fun breakfast on Saturday morning we rented a couple bikes and went for a bike ride through Stanley Park. I think Ben loved the bike ride but hated his helmet!

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Our trip was really quick – after our bike ride we packed up the car and headed out in time for Ben’s long morning nap. We employed the same strategy that I used on my drive up, and that was to stop at a playground on the other side of the border. We had a suuuuuper long border wait time, so we were all ready to get out of the car and stretch our legs.

{We stopped at a grocery store and got some fresh sandwiches and some sides from the deli - it was a great way to do lunch on-the-go!}

{We stopped at a grocery store and got some fresh sandwiches and some sides from the deli – it was a great way to do lunch on-the-go!}

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I’d say our trip to Vancouver was a huge success! I’d definitely do it again.

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Ben is 13 Months Old!

I’m not sure if I’ll really keep up with the month-by-month updates now that Ben is one. He has been doing so many new and fun things lately that I wanted to try to document it, so here we are…

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This beautiful baby of ours has turned into a true-to-form toddler over the last six weeks. Tantrums are happening, drama is ensuing, Ben suddenly has preferences {and demands!} and is communicating quite effectively with us. He’s started to point to what he wants and he’s using sign language for things like “all done” or “milk” – it’s pretty handy.

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Over the last month or so, Ben has gotten four new teeth, for a grand total of six {four on the top and two on the bottom}. This has been very painful for all of us, but also really fun because it has helped him become a better eater and chewer. When he smiles it’s still hard to see his top teeth sometimes so I don’t really have a good photo to show all of his pearly whites. Speaking of pearly whites, holy cow is it hard impossible to brush this kid’s teeth!!

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Ben has been eating really, really well lately. Since he was about 11 months old his ability and interest in eating has continued to grow. Until about a week ago he had zero interest in fruit and now he’s downing about 1/3 of a banana every morning and he shovels strawberries and raspberries into his mouth as fast as he can.

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Yesterday his nanny gave him a whole peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which he finished, and he has a new found love of graham crackers and Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. Cheerios are still the way to his heart, along with sausage and cottage cheese. Another favorite is mini waffles {I’ve heard the blueberry ones are really good!}.

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{Side note: Ben has one of those little snack cups that you can reach your hand in and grab a small snack, like a Cheerio, and it's supposed to not dump out the snack. Not surprisingly, Ben figured out how to dump out the entire contents on the first day he started using said snack cup. Conveniently for mama it was in the middle of a store.}

{Side note: Ben has one of those little snack cups that you can reach your hand in and grab a small snack, like a Cheerio, and it’s supposed to not dump out the snack. Not surprisingly, Ben figured out how to dump out the entire contents on the first day he started using said snack cup. Conveniently for mama it was in the middle of a store.}

Ben’s personality continues to emerge. He is such a little entertainer. He flirts with everyone – he’s got this coy look in his eyes and then out of nowhere he will start waving his arm to say hello to someone. The wave quickly turns into a full on hand clap/cackle/giggle/hammy smile combo. He is going to be such a piece of work!

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It’s hard to say what Ben’s favorite activity is, though I could come up with a few things. Probably the top choice is pulling all of the books off the bookshelf. That’s mama’s least favorite activity. He loves to read the books, too, but only after he’s pulled a handful off the shelf. He loves turning anything into a drum set – he bangs on anything possible. Ben is very happy when left to independently explore something – he loves to be set loose to crawl around, pull himself up on something and cruise from one thing to the next. He’s a really independent kid, but he’ll check to make sure you’re still hanging out with him, usually by coming back to you for a hug.

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Lately Ben has been more willing/able to follow directions. He generally listens when we tell him “no” or “no touch” or to come here or to stay on his back when we’re changing his diaper.

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One of our big to do’s with Ben as a 12 month-old was to reduce the amount of milk he was drinking. The goal was to go from 30+ ounces per day down to around 15 ounces. It ended up being significantly easier than I expected. The transition coincided very well with him starting to eat a lot more solid food and we were able to very easily phase out quite a bit of milk.

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Right now he only gets 2-3 bottles per day – for sure one when he wakes up and one when he goes to bed, though the morning bottle seems unnecessary as of late. We’re trying to limit it to two bottles and then extra milk during the day in a sippy cup. He seems to really want the comfort that’s associated with the bottle and even when he drinks milk from a sippy cup sometimes it’s unsatisfying to him. That said, he’s doing very well at drinking water from a sippy cup, which is really important now that he’s only having about 12 ounces of milk per day.

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Ben can say several words, including: dada, mama, dog {dog dog}, yum, hot, ball, up and he tries to say “all done” buttttt has some work to do on that one. He has been mimicking us a lot more with our actions and what we’re saying.

{Ben goes to story time at the library around once a week with his nanny. It's a fun time for him to play with other babies.}

{Ben goes to story time at the library around once a week with his nanny. It’s a fun time for him to play with other babies.}

In the last week Ben stood up without using anything to support him – we were at the park when he did it for the first time. It seemed like a fluke – it was as though he didn’t realize what he did. The next few days he repeated it many, many times, though. On Thursday, completely out of the blue, he stood up on his own and took three steps to walk to me. Alex, our nanny and I were all there to see it, which was so fun!

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This kiddo is turning into a little boy right before our very eyes. Every day he does something new and figures something else out. Parenthood has been a much different journey than I expected in the absolute best way possible.

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Fourth of July Weekend

Much to my surprise we had a four day weekend at home together. I had no idea Alex had Monday off until late last week. After having a few busy weekends in a row it was nice to have a low-key weekend just the three of us. The icing on the cake was the weather – it was basically perfect all weekend long.

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My weekend kicked off a day early – Ben and I had a really fun Friday hanging out in Madison Park, the neighborhood just north of us. It has a much bigger downtown than our neighborhood and it’s got a great beach and a really nice park. Ben and I started at the beach, stopped at the swings and then grabbed a bite to eat at the deli.

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Not surprisingly, Ben loved the beach! He loved playing in the sand and sitting in the water, feeling the waves crash on his little legs. He was all smiles! 🙂

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We had a laid-back day on Saturday and somehow Alex and I managed to make it to yoga at the gym. It was so nice to start the weekend with a relaxing yoga class! Alex took Ben to the pool afterwards, too, so they had some fun in the water together.

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Lately we have been loving taking Ben up to the park in our neighborhood and setting out the picnic blanket and just hanging out. He has been practicing standing on his own and for some reason seems to be more comfortable in the grass. While we were at the park over the weekend he stood up from a seated position all on his own without holding onto anything! Since then we’ve seen him do it several more times but it seems like he’s still realizing that he can do it.

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Since I had so much fun taking Ben to the beach on Friday we decided go together over the weekend too. Ben was practicing standing on the picnic blanket at the beach too and is really getting the hang of it. He had so much fun!

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We made an impromptu trip over the mountains to Leavenworth on Monday. It was super spontaneous and last minute and we had a great time. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky which made for a spectacular drive over the mountain pass. We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful state!

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One of our favorite things to do with Ben is to share foods that we love with him. Thankfully he has similar tastes to us so usually he enjoys them. While we were in Leavenworth we stopped at one of our favorite sausage shops and got some sausages and a pretzel. Since it was 90 degrees and a fun, bonus day we treated ourselves to some gelato before we made the drive back home.

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All weekend long we had been looking forward to our plans for the fourth – we headed up to our friends’ Carrie and Patrick’s new house on Camano Island. Camano Island is located a little over an hour northwest of Seattle and is an island, connected by a bridge, out in Puget Sound. Carrie and Patrick moved into their new house two weeks ago and we couldn’t wait to see their new place.

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Our friends Ryan and Mary joined us up north with their 19 month-old twin boys, August and Oliver, and Carrie and Patrick have a 14 month-old daughter named Roslyn. It was so fun to have all four babies together for the day. We loved Carrie and Patrick’s new house and hope to spend a lot of time up there with all of our kiddos.

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It was sad to see such a nice long weekend come to an end, but we’ve got a short work week and another weekend at home coming up. I love July – it seems like such a nice, relaxing family month. This year anyway!

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Ben’s One Year Photo Shoot

We recently had a little family photo shoot in honor of Ben turning one. I charged our photographer with capturing our family in a very natural way – playing at the park, walking through our neighborhood and eating ice cream. While ice cream isn’t a part of Ben’s everyday life, taking walks through our neighborhood and going to the park both are! I think Kim did a fantastic job of capturing our life right now so perfectly…

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