Category Archives: Benjamin

A Family of Three

My priority right now is enjoying our last days as a family of three. I have no idea how baby girl will change the dynamic of our little family, but I know she’s bound to shake things up a bit. I’m all about savoring all of the sweet moments with our only child. This last weekend’s focus was all about Ben and having fun together, just the three of us.

Even before this weekend I’ve been really trying to stop and be even more present with Ben. The dishes can wait. Picking up can wait. I’ve found myself sitting down on the floor with him much more often and pushing out bedtime a few extra minutes just to keep having fun together.

The weekend was perfect. It was everything I hoped it would be. No one was sick {hurrah!} and we didn’t really have anywhere we needed to be. We could just relax and be together, and that’s just what we did. Sometimes those are the best days.

It’s not like we did anything out of the ordinary or extra special last weekend. Alex and I were so in-the-moment and so focused on enjoying our time together, knowing this could potentially be our last weekend home just the three of us, and I think that’s what made it extra special.

Ben and I started the weekend with our weekly trip down to our neighborhood Farmers Market on Friday afternoon. It’s often a highlight of my week, or at least something I look forward to all week. The produce is really starting to get good now that we’re into the middle of July! If only I could get Ben to enjoy fruit in its natural form. Oh well.

The rest of the weekend was a nice combo of strolling the neighborhood, playing at the park, going to the zoo and turning our backyard into a water park.

Alex and I have been making it a point to get out for dinner just the two of us pretty much every week for about the last month and we opted to try somewhere different this week and finished off the evening with a stop at Molly Moon’s ice cream shop.

We were able to get a few things accomplished over the weekend too, so that made it feel extra good and productive. More on that in another post.

At the end of the day on Sunday both Alex and I felt like the weekend was so long in the best possible way. We so enjoyed our family time, and if it happens to be the last weekend we’re a family of three, I’m so, so happy with how our time was spent together.

It was perfect.

Ben Turns 2 + Maternity Photo Shoot

We have a lot that I wanted to capture on film right now — our sprite young 2-year old and my almost full-term pregnancy, plus, in my opinion {which, for the record, is contrary to that of my husband!} you can never have too many family photos. Our family photographer, Kim, did an outstanding job of freezing time for us so we can look back on some very special moments forever and ever.

I was 33 weeks and 3 days pregnant the day of our photo shoot – exactly one day farther than I ever made it in my pregnancy with Ben, so it was extra sentimental for me to have some mementos from that day.

I get asked all the time about my “heartbeat” necklace – this was a very special gift from Alex in remembrance of the hours upon hours upon hours that we sat in the hospital watching Ben’s heart rate while in utero, then after he was born, watching/listening to the heart rate monitors in the NICU. It’s a very symbolic and special necklace for me and I wear it all the time.

Just like when Ben turned one, the photo shoot took place in our neighborhood. Initially I thought it might be redundant, but it really is the perfect spot to document our lives right now. We absolutely love our neighborhood – seriously, more and more every day – and it captures our life oh so accurately.

Our First Family Camping Trip

I’m not sure if we were crazy or just really optimistic when we booked our camping trip six months ago. In any case, we gave it a shot!

We’ve been to Lake Wenatchee State Park several times and camped here once before. It’s a very family-friendly campground and we chose it in part because of the flushable toilets, running water, showers, proximity to a beach and playground and a few other fun amenities. So, it’s car camping at its finest…

Not long after we got our tent set up the sky opened up and it started to rain. We were not the slightest bit prepared for rain, since there was zero chance of it in the forecast. We quickly huddled under the little overhang of the tent to stay dry and get attacked by mosquitoes! Thankfully the rain didn’t last long and we were able to get a fire and some s’mores going.

Mid-storm my brother and his girlfriend, Becky, arrived! Ben hasn’t seen Uncle John or Becky in nearly a year but seemed to remember them right away and made several requests for Uncle John to pick him up. He really enjoyed spending time with Uncle John and Becky. They were great sports to have spent 24 hours with a toddler.

It turns out it can be rather difficult to get a 2-year old to settle down and go to sleep when there are kids running around, car alarms going off, it’s extremely light out, adults are partying and talking loudly and really when you’re in a new setting. So! Ben fell asleep at about 10:00 p.m., despite our best efforts to get him to cuddle up with us in front of the fire and fall asleep. Once he fell asleep, though, he passed out until 7:15 in the morning, so that was great!

Despite Ben sleeping well {once he fell asleep} neither Alex or I got much sleep. I forgot how uncomfortable air mattresses can be, and it turns out it wasn’t just the preggo who was miserable – Alex had similar complaints. Given the lack of sleep we decided we’d head home a night early. Needless to say, the coffee tasted extra, extra good on Saturday morning.

Side note: how cool are these coffee mugs?! They were a favor at a beautiful wedding we attended last fall.

Milk + camp chair + campfire + super cool Patagonia fleece = happy Ben!

Ben seemed to love all of the time we spent outside on our camping trip. He is such a little explorer and entertainer. We had fun playing in the tent, walking down to the water and playing at the playground. I think we have ourselves a beach baby!

By mid-afternoon on Saturday our campsite was packed up and Ben was snoozing in my lap by the fire {at least we had one success with getting him to fall asleep!}. We decided to run into “town” and grab some coffee from Plain Hardware then go and have a little picnic at our house before going into Leavenworth to show John and Becky around.

Ben was mostly over the idea of sitting still by the time we got out of the car when we arrived in Leavenworth. We managed to have a little time to sit at Cured, our favorite sausage haus, to enjoy a pretzel, bratwurst and beer before we appeased the toddler and went swimming!

Swimming with Ben, in particular at this perfect-for-tots pool, was one of the highlights of my weekend. The pool had a zero-depth entry and a huge section that was 2 feet deep or less. It had a little toddler water slide that was made just for Ben. Ben was wading around in the pool, paddling his arms and jumping up and down – I think he was watching other people swim and trying to figure out how to do it himself! It was so fun to watch.

Before we made the drive home we stopped at the Heidlberger Drive In for some great cheeseburgers and fries. Alex and I love a good diner and this one didn’t disappoint.

All in all, we had a wonderful time on our camping trip. We’re not going to be in a hurry to sleep in a tent again for a few years, I don’t think, but it was such a fun experience to provide for Ben. We are very, very glad we came home after one night, for a number of reasons, but most importantly, Ben ended up coming down with a nasty case of croup on Saturday night/Sunday and we spent the afternoon in urgent care. Poor kiddo was miserable! Hopefully we’re done with the summer illnesses after this one.

The Start of Summer

Here in Seattle we had a nice summery tease back in May. June usually is one of the more annoying months to live in Seattle, though, because the temperature drops back down and the gray skies and drear come back. We usually say that summer in Seattle starts on July 5th, and unsurprisingly, looking at the forecast it looks like that’s going to be the case this year.

Nevertheless, it’s still technically summer! My coffees are iced, I’m sort of in the habit of watering my plants, Ben is stocked up on outdoor toys and shorts, I overbought on sunscreen, our windows are clean, and we’ve got a beach bag constantly packed and ready to go.

We really weren’t sure what this summer would look like, as I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant, so we didn’t want to make too many plans. Normally summer weekends would be filled with regional trips, hiking and lounging at the beach.

We’ve got a bit of that sprinkled into our summer agenda, but let’s just say it’s a good thing we have a great backyard setup for Ben right now.

Ben has been loving touring different playgrounds nearby, having picnics, playing in his “house” in the backyard, swimming in his little pool or splash pad, visiting the zoo and the Bellevue Children’s Museum, and chasing Jackson or dada around the yard.

We are looking forward to our upcoming camping trip, hopefully going to the beach if it ever warms back up, exploring some of the splash parks around the area and taking family bike rides down by the lake.

One of my favorite pastimes during the summer months is sitting on our porch or patio with a nice glass of rose. Wellllll that’s not happening for a while for me. My new drink of choice is a cherry Italian soda! It’s no rose, but it’ll do the trick for now.

Happy summer!!

Potty Training: 2+ Weeks In!

We’ve all survived potty training for two weeks and we haven’t given up! Three cheers for Ben!

Things are going very well with teaching Ben how to use the potty. It’s been waayyyyy less stressful than I expected. The first day was definitely the hardest, but then after the first week we all really got into a good rhythm. Until the end of the day on Friday {so, exactly two weeks in basically} Ben was being prompted to “go” 100% of the time, but at the very end of the day, right before bed, he told me he needed to use the potty.

This is a huge, huge milestone in potty training and I was overjoyed that he let me know. It continued to happen throughout the weekend and into the start of this week, which tells us things are “clicking” for him and we’ll soon be able to trust him to let us know. It’s going to be so nice to not have to tell him to go use the potty every 45 minutes or so! {I know that’ll be a while, but still…. something to look forward to!}

And for the record, we’re only doing daytime potty training right now since Ben still naps and sleeps in a crib. I think we’re getting closer and closer to a big kid bed, though, so, there’s that to also look forward to.

In any event, we are thrilled with how well it’s going. It has been so fun to see how excited and proud of himself Ben has been with the whole process. It’s so cool watching him learn a new life skill like this.

Potty Training – 5 days in

A new milestone for our tot is upon us… we’re officially in the middle of potty training Ben! We’re five days in right now and I’m over the moon at how well it’s going.

We’re taking a very specific approach, as laid out in the newly famous “Oh Crap! Potty Training” book. This approach essentially makes you go from 100% diapers to 100% no diapers with the snap of a finger {and an enormous amount of subsequent effort and patience}. There’s no middle-ground of wearing diapers and then practicing going potty – it cuts straight to the chase and you’re just done with diapers, no ifs, ands or buts. Well, with one exception — sleeping.

It took a few weeks to read the book, get on board, mentally prepare ourselves and wait for the weather to cooperate. Once it did, we pulled the trigger and now we’re five days closer to having a potty trained child.

The first day was very challenging and I think overwhelming for us all. It was so new and it did not go quite how we expected {turns out Ben can hold it for a looooooooong time!}. Once we eased up on day two things started to fall into place. It was a very good learning opportunity for us all.

Right now, at the end of day five, we’re starting to get more comfortable with the idea of getting out for very short jaunts – i.e. a short walk around the block, mayyyybe a trip to the park. It’s still nerve-wracking for us to venture too far away, mainly because it’s so new and different and we haven’t done it yet. And full-size public toilets are wayyyy more intense and sparse than the little Baby Bjorn potty we can carry around the house/yard with us wherever we go.

So! The next steps in our process are to get out of the house and jump to the next level of communicating with Ben about using the potty. Right now we’re telling him to use it. We’d like to be able to ask if he’s got to go and trust his response. And, the end goal, of course is for him to be the one telling us he’s gotta go. I think that’s a few weeks away, though.

In any case, we’re on track and so proud of our little boy. It has been so endearing and makes our hearts overflow with pride and joy to watch Ben learning a new life skill. The best part, though, is seeing how proud of himself he is.

Ben is 24 Months Old!

We celebrated Ben’s second birthday last week with a big family trip over the mountains to Leavenworth, followed by mini celebrations all week long to honor the sweet little life of our boy. It seems like he’s grown up and changed so much in the last week – he really turned two. We’ve had a lot of firsts and are so excited to see what the “terrific twos” are all about.

Ben’s 24-month stats:

  • Weight: 25 pounds, 2 ounces {15-25th percentile}
  • Height: 33 3/4 inches {25th-40th percentile}
  • Number of teeth: 12
  • Clothing size: no change here – all over the board – very, very brand dependent!  2T for tops. Bottoms are so funny – he’s still in 12-18m at the very largest, but still fits into some 9-12m bottoms. He’s very difficult to buy clothes for!
  • Shoe size: size 6 toddler!
  • Favorite foods: cottage cheese, smoothies, Grandpa Fred’s burgers, broccoli & rice casserole
  • Favorite activities: singing “Wheels on the Bus”, doing things himself, watching videos of diggers, pushing toys, playing with Jackson, reading books, dancing, running, climbing, being silly with dada.

In the last month Ben has turned into “Bossy Ben” which, for now, is hilarious. I love hearing his very strong opinion about certain things – for example, that it’s not okay for anyone but dada to sit in dada’s spot at the dining room table. Ben is very good at expressing his opinion and preference. He very freely says “no way” and we’re starting to work on that becoming “no thank you” though it’s still pretty funny hearing him say “no way” all the time.

The big themes we’ve been seeing for the last 6-8 months have been around communication and that’s no different right now. We’re working on pronouns {btw – I’m done referring to myself in third person – once I mostly stopped that I realized how ridiculous it is. I think all it does is confuse him!} and complete sentences that include please and thank you. Ben has been asking “did you hear that?” or “what is that?” alllllll the time, which is so fun to start to get a closer glimpse of what’s going on in his mind.

Definitely along with the bossiness and communication comes manipulation, ignoring us and tantrums. Ben’s doctor told us that with his vocabulary and communication abilities he’d start to try to manipulate us earlier than most kids – yeah, we’re already there. It’s really funny. Tantrums are mostly avoidable at this point but of course depending on the circumstances there’s no way around them. Ben is very strong-willed and stubborn and has clear preferences, so talking him through things in difficult-for-him situations is critical. Alex is really good about diffusing the tough moments – mostly through humor or doing something to annoy Ben {not sure how that works but it does!}. Naturally, as a toddler, Ben feels feelings very strongly, though it’s also very mood/sleep/hunger dependent.

Finally it seems like learning colors is starting to click with Ben! That’s been really fun – up until about the last week or so I didn’t think he had any understanding of what different colors were, but now it’s clear that he’s getting it. I’ve been really working on it, so it’s nice to see the concept sinking in.

We just ordered a little glider board for our stroller because Ben wants to be an independent walker and not always a rider. The glider board goes under the parent push handle and is like a little spot for him to stand and hold on, rather than sit in his chair. He frequently requests to to get out and walk, so this is sort of a happy medium if we are out on a longer walk and he needs a ride but doesn’t want to sit.

 

Over the weekend we went for our first family walk without the stroller. We took Jackson up to the park on Sunday morning and per Ben’s request, left the stroller at home. Ben was a stellar listener and stayed with us and asked to hold hands when we crossed the street. It was wayyyyy less exhausting and chaotic than I expected!

For the last month or so we have been sloooooowlyyyy pulling off the bandaid of providing way too much support to Ben when he goes to sleep at night. Last weekend we ripped that bandaid right off and Ben is officially putting himself to sleep unsupported. I was 100% the barrier and finally when he turned two I became ready to put him in his crib, say goodnight and then walk out and close the door. We had a lot of conversations with him about the change and he handled it so much better than I expected! When we left the room he just laid down, cuddled up with his stuffed animals and fell asleep. There was absolutely no issue whatsoever. I guess he’s been ready for a while!

We are approaching the end of diapers! Alex and I are pulling the plug and starting potty training this weekend. I’m pretty excited to see how it goes and how he grasps the concept. It is so fun to watch him learn a new skill and see how proud of himself he is. We’ll do a two-phase approach where wake-times are diaper-free effective immediately and forever, then sleep-time will still be with a diaper for the time being since Ben still sleeps in a crib. Wish us luck!

Our little mover has become quite the climber! Ben is so agile and athletic – I continue to be amazed by him at the playground. He’s getting stronger and able to climb and pull himself up on things, hang from bars and be more sturdy all the time. He tested out the “big kid” swing for the first time when we were in Leavenworth and while we’re not ready to push him very high, he’s totally got it.

I can’t believe all of the “big kid” things that Ben is doing now. He really, really turned into a two-year old.

I think this will probably be my last month-by-month update about Ben. Having this blog as a way to keep track of our family, watch Ben grow and help our family stay on top of what’s going on with us has been so wonderful. I sometimes use it as a journal, tracking things for myself, and other times use it as a way to spread the word about what’s going on in our little lives. Thank you for reading!

Ben’s Second Birthday Celebration

For the second year in a row we headed out to Leavenworth for Memorial Day weekend with Ben’s grandparents to celebrate his birthday. It was such a special weekend for us and we’re so grateful that his grandparents were able to join us this year.

The whole weekend was all about Ben! We had a blast celebrating him and enjoying Ben-themed activities.

Just down the block from our house is the fire station and they were hosting a Memorial Day family open house again this year. Ben loved seeing the fire trucks and ambulances and even got to watch a medical helicopter land. Grammy dressed up as a fire fighter and Ben got to sit up in the fire truck.

We had a wonderful time exploring the beach at Lake Wenatchee State Park and shared a picnic and some time walking the beach and playing on the playground. Lake Wenatchee is absolutely stunning!

When we arrived to our rental house, which is conveniently located next door to our property, we couldn’t wait to run over to our lot to check on the construction progress. Framing has begun – they had just finished up framing the basement and were working on the first wall on the main floor. It was so special to see the house being built and get to share that with Ben. Grandpa Fred brought some sunflower seeds for us to plant over on the lot, so we found the perfect spot and will be excited to see them grow this summer.

There were a couple of times we went into town for a change of pace – we had some sausage and pretzels, took a stroll through Leavenworth and got to savor some mid-afternoon treats at the coffee shop.

We opted to celebrate Ben’s birthday on Sunday after Ben’s nap. He opened some really fun presents and we had birthday cake. For dinner, my dad made his famous burgers and potato salad again this year. I ordered the same Bavarian black forest cake for Ben again this year and thankfully he loved and devoured it. He hadn’t really experienced cake last year before his birthday but this year he was a pro.

Ben is very close to outgrowing the pack & play travel crib and made it clear that he was not happy to be sleeping in it while we were traveling. Similarly to when we were in Arizona a couple months ago, Ben woke up in the middle of the night {extremely unusual for him} each night and requested to come in bed with Alex and me. We happily cozied up with him and savored these rare middle-of-the-night cuddles.

Unsurprisingly, the sleeping change resulted in veeerrryyyyy early wakeups in the morning. Holy cow. Alex was nice enough to let me sleep in a bit later while he played with Ben and Jackson. Nap time was all over the place, given the early wake-ups and new environment. After the second day of no naps I decided to lay down and snooze with Ben with the hope that it would result in a longer nap for him. Thankfully it did!

There were so many sweet moments throughout the weekend. One of my favorites was seeing Ben recognize that there was a special celebration just for him – he sang “Happy Birthday to Ben” all weekend long.

Alex and I had the best time exploring the area we’ll soon be calling our second home and seeing Ben experience life out there. We’re so grateful that Ben has grandparents who adore him so much and who he can bond with, despite the distance. It was a very special weekend for us.

Happy 2nd Birthday Ben!

Our little boy is officially TWO! I want to say “I can’t believe it” but really, I can. He’s totally two. And terrific. We have been celebrating his birthday for about the last week – we took a very memorable trip to Leavenworth {post coming soon!} with Ben’s grandparents and we’ve been spoiling him all week long.

It is so remarkable all that Ben has learned, discovered and done in his short little life, and even just in the last year. Alex and I have absolutely loved watching his sweet personality grow and emerge. We adore how curious and inquisitive he is {“what is that?” “did you hear that?” are some of our favorite questions he has been asking lately.}, the natural independence he’s developing and how much of an entertainer he is.

Ben continues to be extremely active and loves to run and climb. He has surprisingly impressive balance – I think he’s got a lot of natural athleticism. Also, he’s going to give me a heart attack real, real soon.

Watching Ben figure out how to walk was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. It was a slow process because he skipped walking and went straight to running. I think it’s easier to master walking first?

Ben started talking around 14 months – by his 15 month checkup he was saying about 15 words. I remember he picked up on the baby sign language really quickly and still uses signs in addition to saying words like “please” and “more” – especially if he really wants something. Today it’s impossible to estimate Ben’s vocabulary, but I think it’s somewhere between 300-500 words and growing exponentially by the day. We just love having conversations with him and listening to him sing songs. It’s adorable knowing what’s going through his mind.

One of the most mementos events of the Ben’s second year was our land acquisition out in Leavenworth. Alex and I absolutely cannot wait to be able to raise our kids having the experience of spending their weekends in the mountains. We are working so hard to make this a reality and it’s so, so fun picturing Ben and his siblings running around on our beautiful property.

We had some really fun family vacations this last year where we got to spend quality time together with Ben – our trips to Seabrook and Vancouver last summer, just before Ben started to walk, and more recently, our trip down to Arizona. Family time is so important to Alex and me and at this point, it’s our number one choice over pretty much anything else. This little boy means the world to us.

Ben has come to love and regularly request steamed milk when we go to the coffee shop. If you know me very well, we go to the coffee shop a lot. Last fall sometime I got Ben his first “steamer” and it slowly became a little thing we do. I can’t help it – it’s just so cute watching him with his special little coffee cup. He loves it, I love it. It’s adorable.

Alex and I feel so very fortunate to have such an incredible park and playground just four blocks from our house. Spending the day up at the park is one of our favorite family activities. It has been an absolute blast to watch Ben grow up at the park and go from only being able to go in the swings at this time last year to graduating to playing with trucks in the sandbox, crawling around the woodchips, practicing walking in the grass, then quickly learning to climb the toddler play structure and go down the slide with help and then one day not long after, learning how to walk up the big kid steps and go down the big slide all by himself.

While we have so much on the horizon this year for our little Benjamin {becoming a big brother, finishing construction in the mountains, starting legit Spanish-immersion preschool, potty training…} it’s so much fun to look back on our memorable year with Ben. Here are some of my favorite photos or moments/memories from Ben’s second year… {Side note: I forgot how bald he was for sooo long!}

Happy birthday, Benjamin!

Mother’s Day Weekend

Everything lined up to make for a darn nice Mother’s Day weekend in our little house. The weather was absolutely perfect – the icing on the cake!

Ben and I kicked off the weekend with a day just the two of us on Friday. We had a date at the garden store and he alternated between riding in the wagon, running around the store and being slightly helpful {the most helpful was when he was riding in the wagon}.

He was adorable, though, and we picked out some cherry tomato plants, strawberry plants and some herbs. I managed to grab some blooming flowers when he was confined to the wagon. Needless to say, a second trip to the garden store was in order! Since the weather forecast was calling to be perfect Alex and I had grand plans of spending some quality time in our yard over the weekend.

One of my proudest moments as a parent soon followed our trip to the garden store. We went to the Arboretum park and were sitting on the sidewalk having a snack and a little girl took a very big tumble. I think Ben might have seen it happen {my attention was focused elsewhere} and then when she started crying Ben said “go give her a hug!” and got up and started walking towards her. Alex shared he had a similar encounter last weekend when he got a scratch on his arm and Ben kissed it, told him “it’s okay!” and rubbed his back. My heart melted. I’m not sure how he’s already learned empathy – we sure are trying! – and above anything and everything else, I want him to be empathetic and a nice kid. Smarts only get you so far, but being nice and empathizing with others, that’s the makings of a good person.

Alex had a similar moment on Sunday when we returned to the garden store. It had nothing to do with empathy, more just a proud parent moment. He and Ben were sitting down together and Alex took a moment to explain the importance of listening and following directions and holding mama and dada’s hand instead of running off. Immediately after their conversation Ben calmed down and held onto Alex’s hand and responded so sweetly to the directions. Moments like this validate that we’re doing something right!

In addition to the sweet moments, we had some downright adorable moments and firsts on Saturday at our neighborhood block party. The neighborhood association puts on this huge festival and parade, primarily for the kids, and it was so much fun to go to with Ben.

We bumped into other kids in our neighborhood, some of Ben’s classmates, one of the babies from the PEPS group I led and some random friends and acquaintances. It’s moments like these that remind us just how much we love our darling neighborhood – we feel so, so fortunate to live here.

Ben got to see his first parade, which was led by a firetruck {!}, he got to ride a pony, see a reptile show and read some books from the library. We all enjoyed a treat from the coffee shop – “warm milk” is apparently the best thing ever. We’ve spoiled him by getting him a little “steamer” {lightly steamed milk} when we go to the coffee shop now. It’s too cute and he loves it too much to stop!

Somehow we managed to sprinkle in some time with friends into the weekend – we had a really nice dinner over at Ryan and Anne’s on Saturday night, then my cousin, Chris, and his wife and their two kids came over for a backyard barbecue on Sunday evening.

It was a very lovely, special Mother’s Day weekend, indeed. I adored the time I got to spend with the two guys who made me a mama. We had lots of cuddles and giggles and enjoyed our time together.