Category Archives: Benjamin

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.

Ben is 23 Months Old!

That means he’s one month away from his second birthday! It’s crazy that Alex and I have started responding to the question of his age with “he’s almost two!” Man time flies!!

Ben’s 23-month stats:

  • Weight: 24 pounds, 6 ounces {10th percentile}
  • Number of teeth: 12
  • Clothing size: no change here – all over the board! Anything new I’m sizing up to 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: just moved up to size 6 toddler!
  • Favorite foods: cottage cheese, smoothies, crackers, any kind of pork, broccoli, chickpeas

Favorite activities:

  • Pushing anything – dump trucks, shopping carts, his stroller, things that don’t have wheels
  • Singing the ABCs in English and Spanish {!!!}
  • Going down the slide
  • Running
  • Anything to do with a digger {watching digger videos, looking at diggers in person or in pictures}
  • Climbing
  • Singing songs {The Wheels on the Bus, “No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!” and the ABCs are favorites right now}
  • Cuddling his stuffed animals {“Lamby” and “puppy” are favorites right now}
  • Practicing new skills
  • Making people laugh

Our favorite phrases Ben says:

  • “Have a good day!”
  • “How was your day?”
  • “Good morning mama!”
  • “What is that?”
  • This will always, always be the favorite: “Love you mama!” (or dada!)
  • “I need some help!”
  • “Ready to go!”

Big milestones:

  • Learning how to count to 10! {In English and Spanish!}
  • Actually understanding what counting is – he’s starting to count actual items, not just say “1, 2, 3…”
  • Switching to a booster seat instead of a high chair
  • Practicing putting boots and shoes on
  • Using the potty

This last month has been one where we have noticed some of the more significant developmental changes in Ben. Aside from pretty much mastering the ABCs and counting to 12 in English and 10 in Spanish, the biggest thing we’ve noticed is how he has started truly stringing sentences together. He’s figuring out pronouns and how sentences are constructed. It is so remarkable watching him learn.

Ben started a new art class mid-month. He’s always shown a little interest in art and I figured it would be handy to have super messy art projects take place outside of our home where I am not responsible for 100% of the mess. So far so good – he seems pretty into it. If nothing else, it’s something to do and he’s exposed to new things.

Additionally, once a week, Ben goes to music class, and has since the beginning of January. He loves it and I can’t get enough of him coming home singing the songs from his class. He is very much into music – Ben loves dancing and singing.

We’re entering our last month of Ben’s co-op preschool – he has been going twice a week for the whole school year. It has been a really positive experience overall, aside from the initial overwhelmsion. Ben is exposed to other kids, different toys and activities, a bit of structure and some new snack ideas. Alex and I benefit tremendously from the parent educator who supports the class. Her tips are invaluable. We’ll be sad to be done with co-op at the end of May.

The weather has been SO NICE the last week or two – we hit {or almost hit} 80 degrees last week and we brought some toys out into the backyard for Ben to play. He’s been loving his slide, playing with Jackson, pushing the dump truck or lawn mower {off, obviously} and just running around. Alex and I can’t help but sit back and imagine our future when we have opportunities like that. It’s so fun to picture what our life will be like sitting out on the deck of our mountain house watching our kids run around with Jackson.

We ended the month with a big bump on Ben’s head. Poor kiddo. He was so excited to be running over to his friend Maya at the park, tripped and fell and banged his head on the sidewalk. He’s become very resilient and was quick to settle down. It’s always amazing to me that the regular, routine stuff he does is what ends up resulting in an accident – it’s almost never the wild adventurous stuff, like climbing up a ladder, using the rock wall or trying to run down the slide. This kid is going to give me a heart attack.

We’ve got potty training on the horizon! Our intention is to start in June. He seems pretty ready so now Alex and I need to get ready {he’s always ready for things before we are!}. We got a little potty and a couple of “potty” books and Ben successfully used the potty three times the first day! We’ve since done some more research and are removing the potties until we’re really ready to dive in. I guess this “casual” approach of sometimes using the potty, sometimes not, is very hard for them to understand when the time comes to actually potty train and can prolong the process. Sooooo we’ll pick it back up in June!

Ben has become so independent and communicates very clearly when he wants or prefers something. Another thing we have on the horizon is working on Ben putting himself to sleep. We’ve been coddling him a little too much at bedtime and he’s been telling us he’s ready to do it on his own. Like with the potty training and so much else, he’s ready long before we are! Alex and I adore the pre-bedtime cuddles and the calm time when our boy sits still. We can still have that as we work towards Ben being a little more independent as he falls asleep.

I can hardly believe we’re entering Ben’s last month as a one-year old. He has really been looking and acting like a little boy lately. I hope he stays this sweet forever and ever.

Ben is 22 Months Old!

We are rounding the corner towards age 2! It’s sort of funny – for about the first time ever, people are accurately guessing Ben’s age. Parents at the park or random strangers will say “oh, is he almost two?” Typically when someone guesses how old Ben is they are wildly off, but lately it seems like he’s started “looking his age” I guess!?

Ben’s 22-month stats:

  • Weight: 24 pounds + some ounces {~ 10th percentile}
  • Number of teeth: 12
  • Clothing size: all over the board – anything new I’m sizing up to 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: 5 {toddler size}
  • Favorite foods: cottage cheese, smoothies, crackers, any kind of pork, broccoli
  • Favorite activities: dancing, climbing, singing songs, cuddling his stuffed animals, reading, watching ABCs in Espanol {Elmo video}, going to the playground, running, going to school.

I feel like the theme of Ben’s last month has been fun and talking, talking, talking. Maybe talking will be the theme for all of toddlerhood!? Boundary testing is most definitely another theme lately. We’ve employed the “ok I’m going to count to 5 and then we’re going to be all done with xyz” which has been surprisingly effective so far.

During the last month Ben spent the better part of a week on vacation with Alex and me – we had such a fantastic time just the three of us. Ben has been a dada’s boy a lot more in the last couple of months – it’s been so sweet to see. I just love watching those two together. There are few things more endearing than seeing a dad and his kid having fun and living in the moment. It melts my heart.

We signed Ben up for swimming lessons, so he’s been able to be a little fish a ton in the last month. He loves jumping in the pool and is working on blowing bubbles, kicking his feet and scooping his hands. Aside from when he’s jumping in the pool he is suuuuper calm in the water. It’s so funny to see that part of his personality come out since he’s basically never calm or sitting still. I think he loves swimming lessons and will regularly talk about “swimming in water” throughout the week. I only wish the water and locker rooms were a tad bit warmer! Brrrrrrr.

Ben was an early talker, for sure, and in the last month we’ve seen another major leap in his vocabulary, speech and general language development. He’s more forward in talking to strangers and he is stringing together much longer sentences and his overall vocabulary and understanding has exploded. He’s asking questions now, which is basically the coolest thing ever! I can’t get enough of hearing him talk. Some of my favorite things he has started saying are:

  • What is that?
  • Good morning!
  • What are you doing?
  • Pee-yew! {while plugging his nose}
  • Ouchie! Mama kiss it.

Additionally, Ben has started singing songs – multiple verses, too. He sings the Wheels on the Bus, parts of pat-a-cake, parts of Old McDonald. He loooooves music. He’s starting to string together the Spanish ABCs and he’s working on counting to 10 in Spanish {and English, though his Spanish counting is oddly better!}. Colors are basically a lost cause for now.

In addition to singing, Ben has become quite the dancer. He’s been a little entertainer for quite a while now, but his new show includes dancing. The other day we were at Starbucks and there was some upbeat music playing and he went over to some girls, said hi and then started dancing for them. It was hysterical! He is such a flirt and really loves to be the center of attention.

I love watching the associations he makes with things. We were talking about an alligator recently and he “snapped” his arms like an alligator and associated that with a song he sings at school. It’s been interesting seeing him make the association from his three caregivers – we can tell he’s connected some type of parallel between them.

We’re preparing to say “bye bye” to Ben’s high chair. He is protesting it like none other. So far in his 22 months he’s been receptive to our rule that he needs to remain in his chair until everyone is finished eating {trying to instill good manners!}, soooo… we’re working on coming up with some new ideas, likely including a booster or a cool kids chair of some sort.

Another thing we are working on is re-setting Ben’s naps. The last three months Ben has been a terribly inconsistent napper. Two hours is an ideal naptime for Ben – lately, he’s been waking up very upset, clearly not ready to be awake, after exactly an hour. We’re establishing some new naptime habits and using our handy dandy Hatch light to help Ben to know when it’s okay to wake up from his nap {hint: the light turns green!}. So far the first week is going well and he’s been much more calm when he wakes up.

We are so excited about the recent change we’ve made to our childcare situation – we are feeling very positive about Ben’s new au pair and the care he is receiving throughout the day. We’re hoping Ben will continue to make leaps and bounds as we move closer and closer to his second birthday.

Big Changes for the Allens

We’ve had kiiiiind of a lot going on since I last posted about our early-March trip to Arizona! Not only has spring come to Seattle, but it feels like we’re in a new season in our family, too.

Just after we returned from our vacation, Alex began his new job. He’s now three weeks in and is working at a very large tech company that is based here in Seattle. So far, he loves it. He really likes the autonomy, the increase in responsibility, and definitely the commute. His office is close to downtown Seattle and he has loved riding his bike almost every day {3 mile commute – hard to beat!} and he is enjoying being in a more vibrant environment.

The transition to his new job has been fairly easy so far in terms of its impact on our family. We’ve adjusted our morning routine a bit, and Alex is getting home only slightly later in the evening. So far, he’s been home almost every night for dinner, which is a goal we both have. Navigating a new benefits system and insurance policy has been pretty straightforward. I expected to feel the change a lot more. Ultimately, all that matters is that Alex is happy, and that definitely seems to be the case.

At the beginning of Alex’s second week of his new job we came to the realization that our childcare situation was not working out as well as we had hoped. Ultimately, we decided that we needed to move on from our au pair and find a replacement for her.

For about a minute we toyed with some alternate ideas that strayed from having an au pair. Then we realized the cost of having to pay for two separate childcare arrangements for our kiddos {once the baby is born this summer} and realized that an au pair fits very well with our family’s desires, as well as our budget.

Things happened very fast once we made the decision to enter the re-match process. We ended up finding Stacey, a lovely British au pair awaiting a re-match in New York. Stacey was available to begin almost immediately and we were able to work out the logistics so she arrived five days after our re-match process began.

We had a few days, though, where we had childcare gaps, so Alex’s mom “Grammy” came out to watch Ben last week. The two of them had such a special time. Grammy has unlimited energy, it seems, and kept Ben entertained and taught him new things all week long. We were so grateful for the time that they had together.

{Decorating cupcakes with Grammy!}

In the background while all this has been going on has been the final pre-construction process we’re managing to get our mountain house ready for building! A huge high five goes to Alex for navigating that. We’re SO SO close to breaking ground.

Now we’re about to start our first full week with Stacey as Ben’s solo caregiver. We’ve had several days of training and getting acclimated to our family and the city and I think she is ready. So far she is fitting in extremely well with our family and she and Ben bonded right away. Stacey is very sweet, comes with a ton of tot experience {baby too!} and is very conscientious and intuitive. I think we are in good hands!

We are very, very happy to be into a new month and a new season here in our little house. I have a feeling this season will be a great one and we are looking forward to it!

Arizona Family Vacation

We’ve had an unusually crazy winter this year – typical winters for us are filled with trips to the mountains, ski vacations and chasing the next snow storm. This winter threw us off with a difficult childcare transition, Alex’s job search and the intense preparations that went into getting ready for interviews, and me being pregnant. So! We made an impromptu decision to head to Arizona for what will probably be our last vacation as a family of three.

We packed our bags and headed to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area for four nights and five days to enjoy some time together just the three of us. We have been to Arizona several times before and we stayed at the same resort as we went to last winter with Alex’s family.

I put quite a lot of thought into airplane activities for our very active toddler. I found some awesome “things that go” gel stickers, washi tape, new Water Wow coloring books, fun new snacks and a couple new books. Turns out I really didn’t need to bring much to hold his attention. He snoozed for half of the flight down to Arizona, snacked for a bit, watched the people and then requested to watch his favorite Elmo video – “ABCs in Espanol” a few times, and then we were there!

We opted to buy Ben his own seat, which was a smart move, since he’s so active {you don’t have to buy a seat for a kid under age 2}. It was really nice to have the whole row to ourselves and allow him to spread out a bit. Just after takeoff Alex asked if Ben wanted to put his head down in Alex’s lap and take a nap and Ben said yes, laid his head down and fell asleep. It was a really precious moment, especially given that Ben is on-the-go about 93% of the time.

The timing of our flights allowed us to optimize the travel days quite a bit. We were checked into our room by 1:30 and I think we arrived at the pool by 1:45. We knew right away that Ben was going to love spending the next four days swimming.

The middle of most of our days were spent swimming. The resort we stayed at has a main pool with poolside dining and is perfectly heated. They also have a fantastic kiddie pool that is so perfect for toddlers – it’s a zero depth entry with a max water depth of 18 inches. The kiddie pool is the sole reason we selected this resort and our decision held strong when we saw how ideal it is for Ben right now.

Another thing we hadn’t considered is the stairs and ledge around the big pool offered Ben a great deal of independence, which is key for him right now. He loved walking around the edge of the pool and practicing going up and down the stairs. The first day he was content cruising around in his floatie but then he realized he could be more independent and the floatie was a thing of the past.

Later in the trip Ben discovered the joys of jumping in the pool. I’m positive if we would have let him he would have jumped to Alex a thousand times. He absolutely loved it and continued to request “more” jumping.

Somehow I forgot how chilly it can get in Arizona in the evenings/mornings. Our little toddler is an early riser – especially in an earlier time zone – so our days started before the sun rose. This meant we had several hours to fill in a hotel room with limited activities while we waited for it to warm up enough to head to the pool.

Much to Alex’s and my surprise, Ben entertained himself really well. He loved pushing the stroller around our unit, opening the kitchen drawers and putting things in his stroller, pushing the luggage rack through the room and watching out the window for golf carts.

We managed to remain pretty consistent with Ben’s nap times and keep to a regular meal schedule, too. Our first full day we enjoyed lounging by the pool while Ben napped next to us. After the first day, though, we decided he would get a better nap back in our room.

One new thing Ben got to experience was television. We had 2 TVs in our room – one in the living room and one in the bedroom. In our actual house our TV is down in the basement in my office and Ben almost never goes down there so he really hadn’t been exposed to TV before, and the few times he had, he was not interested. We randomly turned on the TV and he watched a cartoon about puppies and seemed to love it. I don’t anticipate him watching much TV at home, but it was sweet to see him engaged in the show for the first time.

Ben does get the occasional privilege of watching videos on the Sesame Street app on his iPad at home and he loved playing “ABCs in Espanol” over and over again. He’s starting to learn the ABCs in English and in Spanish.

While this was a very different trip than it would have been if just Alex and I traveled to Arizona together, we absolutely loved the dynamic that Ben added. We all had to be a little flexible and work with his early morning wake-ups {and the sweet, sweet snuggles that followed}, the need for a mid-day nap, the inability to have the patience to sit in a chair and eat at a restaurant three meals a day for five days, and the need to run around a LOT. It’s all a part of parenthood and we were happy to make accommodations for our little guy.

The memories we made on this trip will undoubtedly last a lifetime for Alex and me. It brought us so much joy to see our little boy so in his element and be exposed to so many fun childhood milestones. The best part, though, was the time we spent. For me, seeing Ben and his “dada” have five days together was priceless. We could have been hunkered down in an igloo for all we cared – the time we spent together was so special and I hope to remember the sweet little moments forever.

Ben is 21 Months Old!

We’ve reached the end of another month and this time it means that Ben is 21 months old! We’ve begun preparing for his second birthday already and this little boy is a full-fledged toddler on the move. I just can’t believe it.

Ben’s 21-month stats:

  • Weight: 23 pounds 11 ounces {10th percentile}
  • Number of teeth: 12 {he has finally been catching up and getting more teeth! I think there are two more on their way in.}
  • Clothing size: all over the board – he officially broke out of 18-24m pajamas, and anything new I’m sizing up to 2T for tops. Bottoms are so funny – he’s still in 12-18m at the very largest. I bought him 9-12m shorts for our upcoming trip. He’s very difficult to buy clothes for!
  • Shoe size: 5 {toddler size}
  • Favorite foods: cheese, cottage cheese, oatmeal {a new favorite}, crackers, getting a “steamer” {steamed milk from the coffee shop}, pork in any form. He still likes broccoli but is back to being “over” bananas and virtually all other types of fruit, though he can’t get enough smoothies or applesauce.
  • Favorite activities: running, climbing, singing songs, reading, making coffee with his new {toy} coffee maker, playing with his toy train, digging through his backpack to find snacks, dumping things out, jumping in puddles.

Over the last few months Ben has been practicing using a fork and a spoon to eat with. I think he’s officially gotten to the point where he prefers utensils instead of his hands. His dexterity is getting quite impressive the more he practices. He has been proving that he’s really ready for major eating independence on things like applesauce, yogurt and cottage cheese – all things we at one time spoon fed him. It’s been fun to see the progression and how proud of himself he is.

{Homemade toddler pizzas were a hit one night when mom & dad went out for dinner.}

Ben’s morning wake-ups have been a little funny for a few weeks. Most days he’s been waking up quiiiiite early. We use a fantastic tot clock so he knows that he has to wait for the light to turn green before we’ll come in. Recently he started singing to himself in the mornings as he awaits our arrival. It is the sweetest thing listening to him in his room singing songs. I love that he’s actually starting to sing songs – he will occasionally request some of his favorites or just start singing the words.

“Getting cozy” is one of Ben’s favorite morning activities. We put him up on our bed, pull my big cozy blanket up over us and read stories while Ben drinks his milk. Sometimes he’ll get cozy in his chair in his room all by himself. He’s also figured out how to get Alex or me out of his chair if he wants to sit there by himself – he’ll put his hand out and say “walk” and then take a couple steps forward with us, let go and then go climb into the chair and take it over. Clever boy…

In keeping up with common developmental themes over the last few months I think language skills is again the biggest area where Ben has grown this last month. He’s putting together phrases and stringing together more dual/multi-word sentences and making noticeable connections. It is so fun to watch this take shape.

His communication skills are becoming more and more fun and helpful. He can point out an “ouchie” now, which of course is very helpful. He has begun to ask for more of something specific. He’s answering more questions and following more instructions. Very occasionally without prompting, he will say please or thank you. He has started to say “it’s okay!” to himself if he is scared of something. This is precious – seeing him connect emotions and how to deal with them all on his own is remarkable.

Some of his new {and adorable} phrases include:

  • “Come up Jackson!” {telling Jackson to come up on the bed}
  • “No way!” {has replaced plain old “no”}
  • “What is that?” {when he doesn’t know what something is}
  • “Come on!” {when he wants you to come with him}
  • “Want some”

Ben is definitely getting more and more into the toddler phase of testing boundaries as of the last couple weeks. It’s pretty amusing to see that as a parent. We approach it with a sense of humor and a whole lot of patience, as well as acknowledging that he’s trying to figure things out. It’s just really funny, though, watching him test, test, test the boundaries and hearing me tell him not to do something several times and watching the look in his eyes when he decides to do it again and again to figure out what he can get away with. We’re learning more and more about the toddler years and how quickly things change.

Some of my favorite moments of the last month have been snuggling with my sweet boy, hearing him say “love you” and “good night” and “morning” and getting more kisses. This little boy just melts my heart and his dada’s too.