Category Archives: Benjamin

Ben’s First Day of School

Fall is here and school is back in session here in Seattle. We are so happy to be at the start of having a routine in our life again. While our summer was so fantastic it really lacked any predictability or consistency for the kids or me, so now that fall is here I’m embracing it.

Ben is in his second year of preschool this year, though attending a new school. He is going to a Montessori school in our neighborhood, just four blocks from our house. So far the transition to his new school has been seamless. He is really enjoying it and drop-off is a breeze!

Already on the first day of school I saw notable changes in Ben’s independence, one of the pillars of the Montessori philosophy. I’m eager to see how the new school environment influences him and promotes independence and executive functioning skills.

Here’s to a wonderful school year ahead!

For nostalgia sake: 2018 first day / 2017 first day

Ben is 3 1/4!

It is so much fun to do quarterly updates for my oldest toddler, but SO much happens and changes in a quarter it is so hard to keep up with. My goodness gracious, though, my Benjamin has never been sweeter or more fun. That said, with the exception of Ben’s first quarter of life, this last quarter has undoubtedly been the most challenging. Three is no joke.

Ben’s stats:

  • Weight: 29 pounds 12 ounces {25th percentile}
  • Height: 37 1/4 inches {35th percentile}
  • Clothing size: 3T except for pants and shorts – he’s still 18m, 24m or 2T in bottoms!
  • Shoe size: size 7 toddler
  • Favorite foods: crackers, pasta, any type of cheese, yogurt, smoothies, cottage cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, most meats – especially slow cooked
  • Favorite activities: make believing, playing independently, pushing his cars/trucks around, painting, listening to music, playing outside, watching Daniel Tiger, riding his bike, the pump track, gymnastics, swimming, reading books together or looking at books independently

Two weeks before Ben turned three we started to see some major changes. The tantrums were mounting, the defiance was abundant, the screaming was persistent, the mischief was constant and the simplest tasks took an eternity and was like pulling teeth to just get Ben to brush his teeth. Every part of every day was extremely taxing. We knew “three” had arrived!

These unpleasant changes lasted a solid two months and then one day we had this mature little three-year old. I’m well aware that misbehavior is a sign either of needing/wanting attention, another need not being met {i.e. tired/hungry, etc.} or a big period of brain development. I’m pretty sure with this particular season it was largely a developmental milestone, but also a major transition – Ben’s routine and schedule totally changed and we began our summer schedule right around this time, too.

Our little threenager is just that – a mini teenager. He wants to do his own thing, But at least he still likes us!

Even as a very young toddler Ben has always been quite independent. He loves getting himself dressed, helping in the kitchen, playing on his own, reading books to himself and doing things for himself.

Ben is extremely curious right now. Alex and I are doing whatever we can to foster that. I love when he asks “why” or for more information about what something is or how it works. He amazes me sometimes with his ability to recall or repeat what I say.

Alex and I have been loving the progression that our conversations with Ben are taking these days. He asks such thoughtful and insightful questions. He’s starting to understand the concept of time a little more, though this has been a tough one to get.

As a 3 1/4 year old, Ben is sleeping around 10-10.5 hours overnight and most days takes a 2-3 hour nap. He usually goes to sleep around 8 or 8:30 and wakes up somewhere around 6:30. About once a week he’ll wake in the night – usually because he dropped a stuffie or pillow and can’t find it, though he does have the occasional bad dream.

Socially Ben has made some big changes in the last quarter or so. He has several friends and there are some friendships that seem to be stronger than others. There are some kids from his school last year who he seems to miss and asks about often. At this point he prefers playing on his own. We’ve had some friends up to The Lodge and it’s been really neat to see him playing so well with the other kids.

One of Ben’s favorite activities has been riding his balance bike. He LOVED his week of bike camp with his balance bike in early July. He really mastered the balance bike and it brought him tremendous confidence.

Because he mastered the balance bike we felt he was ready for a pedal bike. While we still feel like he’s ready – he is having a really hard time figuring out how to actually pedal. We popped the training wheels on so it would be a little easier, but this has been a source of tremendous frustration for him. He had a terrible time in his second week of bike camp with the pedal bike and I ended up pulling him out halfway through the session because he was so upset about it. He’s just not getting how to pedal. We’re going to lay off of this for a bit and pick it back up after he has the opportunity to ride a tricycle or just take a break.

Ben has always had a natural athleticism and has become very interested in soccer and baseball {well, t-ball} recently. It’s impressive watching him hit the ball on the tee, play catch and kick a soccer ball. He is really looking forward to his first experience playing soccer this fall.

At home, Ben loves to be helpful, particularly in the kitchen. He really enjoys cooking with me and will often come put his step stool next to me and ask to help make dinner or if we can bake something together.

Ben’s personality is staying mostly constant at this point. He is as sweet as they come. He loves to be surrounded by family and people who care about him. Close relationships are very important to him. Ben is compassionate, sensitive and empathetic and is very, very loving. He is really impacted by how other people feel. His sense of humor continues to emerge and he loves to make people laugh.

It’s really timely that my quarterly updates seem to largely coincide with the changing of the seasons. We are rounding the corner to fall and Ben has some really big transitions ahead. He’s starting a Montessori preschool after Labor Day where he’ll go 3 days per week, he’ll be joining a soccer team and getting back into gymnastics. We always have so much to look forward to and this fall is no different.

Ben & Hannah

Now that Hannah is one I thought it would be fun to do a little comparison of Ben and Hannah. In my month-by-month or quarterly update posts I try to keep it focused on each kiddo and avoid comparing the two kids. They have a ton of similarities in their personalities but there are some really big differences in how they have developed.

One of the biggest similarities in Ben and Hannah is that they are both extremely loud. They crave being the center of attention. Neither one is afraid to make their presence known or request additional attention if they’re not getting enough.

If you spend much time with Ben you’ll notice how naturally athletic he is. As a baby and early toddler he really excelled in gross motor development. When he was learning a new skill he would really challenge himself and try things maybe a little before he was ready, then he’d practice his new skill over and over again.

{Ben – 13 months old – days away from walking}

Hannah, on the other hand, has really excelled in her fine motor skills. She’s been slower to hit her gross motor skills milestones, but when she does hit them she’s mastered them. She waits until she knows she’s nailed it.

{Hannah – 12 months old and standing up unsupported.}

As a baby, Ben was a sympathy crier. If there was another baby crying he would start crying too. Hannah did not get that gene. If Ben is doing something inappropriate she thinks it’s hilarious. If someone gets hurt and is crying she is the first to laugh.

Both of our sweet kids absolutely love music. They both enjoy playing musical instruments and they love listening to music.

When Ben was a baby it took him a while to really get into solid foods, especially feeding himself finger foods. He was fine with purees – still loves them in fact – but when it came to finger foods it took until about 10 months for him to get comfortable and show an interest. We started Hannah on solid foods when she was 5 months old and she couldn’t get enough! She took to solid foods immediately and hasn’t looked back. She’s been known to scoop up a handful of fruit and shovel it into her mouth.

{Ben – almost 11 months}

{Hannah – 11 months}

Ben and Hannah are both pretty easy-going kids. They’re able to go with the flow and adjust well in new surroundings. Ben in particular is so happy to spend time and connect with anyone who he feels comfortable with and who shows him love and care. Hannah is a little slower to warm up to new people and is more connected to me as a baby than Ben was.

In terms of energy and activity levels, we’ll have to see how this goes as Hannah gets a little older. I think Ben will have her beat a bit here. She’s super wiggly but in a different way than Ben was, I think. He just seems like he needs to burn off excess energy by running and climbing and jumping. Hannah just doesn’t like to be confined it seems.

{Ben – 22 months – ever the athlete}

{Hannah – 11 months}

A big physical difference is their size. Ben has always been very thin and Hannah has been on the opposite end of the spectrum. Currently both of them can fit into the same size shorts – 18-month! Ben is hard to buy pants for because they won’t stay up on his waist, whereas I have to pay attention to pants for Hannah to make sure the legs aren’t too tight!

{Legs for days!}

Both kiddos are very independent and prefer to do things themselves without help. Some of Ben’s latest phrases include “No mama! I can do it myself!” Once Hannah has the vocabulary I’m sure I’ll hear that from her too. From an early age with both of them, though, they are content playing on their own and don’t always need to be entertained.

As an itty bitty infant Ben was not into cuddling but now is an all-star cuddle bug. Hannah has always been into snuggles. I can’t wait to see the two of them curled up on the couch sharing a blanket, snuggling up with their stuffies one day in the not-too-distant future.

Lately the consensus seems to be that Hannah looks just like her brother. I definitely agree they have some significant similarities in their appearances, especially their mouths. It’s tough because Ben was so bald at the age Hannah is now, so it makes it harder to compare.

{Hannah – 6 months}

{Ben – 6 months}

I’m not sure how Alex and I turned out two blonde hair, blue eyed cuties, but we managed! Ben and Hannah both have blue eyes but the color of their eyes are completely different and SO beautiful. Ben’s eyes are stunning – they are so captivating. Strangers will occasionally stop to comment on his eyes. They are a deep blue/gray with an incredible luster to them. Almost like broken glass. And Hannah’s eyes look like an alpine lake – a beautiful, rich tealy blue that pulls out the colors of whatever is surrounding her.

It has been really fun when I’ve done my monthly Hannah updates to look back on my Ben posts from that same age. I always wait until I’ve written Hannah’s update to re-read Ben’s update from that time and it’s uncanny sometimes how similar the updates are. These two littles have so much in common but their personalities are definitely their own. It will be so fun to see their personas continue to come out as they get older.

Alex’s Belated Paternity Leave

After Hannah’s birth we were so fortunate that Alex was able to stay home for two weeks to bond with her and help out with the transition to having two kiddos. At that time he wasn’t eligible for his company’s paternity leave because he had only worked there for a few months. Thankfully, though, he was able to take the leave later on and we just wrapped up nearly 3 weeks of precious family time.

The time we had with Alex was about as good as it gets. We were able to spend so very much time together as a little family of four and make memories that will stay with me forever – I sure hope at least Ben remembers this time.

Alex’s vacation started on the 4th of July and ended the day after Hannah’s birthday and included a visit from Alex’s parents. We split our time between the mountains and Seattle.

At the start of Alex’s leave both of us were rattling off things we really wanted to do with the time and I’m so glad we had the foresight to come up with a plan for his leave. It would have been so disappointing to near the end and look back and think about all the things we hadn’t gotten to. Because of that, we were able to get to nearly everything we had hoped to.

Our time in the mountains felt like it lasted so, so long. Time passes so much slower out there and the pace of life is more manageable, it feels. We are able to fit so much into a single day, let alone the nearly two weeks we were there for.

Despite the unseasonably cool days in the Pacific Northwest earlier in the month we made it to the fabulous Leavenworth pool several times, took countless trips to Enchantment Park in town, walked the trail from the park into town, went to the beach at Lake Wenatchee State Park,fell in love with the Leavenworth Farmers Market, went hiking several times and relaxed at The Lodge. Alex even pulled both kiddos in the bike trailer. Our “vacation” ended with Hannah’s birthday celebration.

The time we spent in Seattle was just as special as it was in the mountains, though we were only there for five of the 18 days. Ben had bike camp every morning and I think Alex got a kick out of helping Ben ride his bike up there each day then coming back early to pick him up so he could watch Ben on his bike.

We had a really fun trip to the zoo, lots of park time, Alex took a nice bike ride and we enjoyed a few nice meals out and I was able to take some time to get a few things accomplished on my own.

Another highlight of our trip was Alex’s and my overnight in Seattle while the kids stayed at The Lodge with Grammy and Papa. The adult time was much needed. We were gone around 24 hours and enjoyed some patio time at Bottlehouse, a fabulous dinner at our favorite restaurant, Vendemmia, and a little more flexibility in our time.

{Side note: the following are the only two pictures we took during our time away. It’s funny how few pictures I take when the kids aren’t the focus!}

The best part for me, though, was seeing how much family bonding took place, in particular while we were in the mountains. Our time was so special. It was precious. It was perfect. We all knew that Alex’s increased presence was a treat and we indulged and just so enjoyed it. Hannah and Alex had some really, really special time, too, which is what it was all about.

We feel so grateful for this family time and have made so many memories and hopefully started a tradition that will last for years to come. We’re hoping to have a longer “staycation” every year where we can stay put in Seattle and/or Leavenworth and enjoy time together. I’m so, so glad that companies and our country are starting to offer paternity leave to new dads. There’s still a lot of work to do, in my opinion, to improve paid parental leave across the board, but I’m seeing progress and am so thankful for that.

{Waving bye bye to dada as he leaves for work….}

Chronicles of a Stay at Home Mom: Feeling Settled

I’m finally feeling pretty settled in my newish role as “mom” and it’s feeling very natural for me to be with the kids all day. I love it.

Now that I’m past the honeymoon phase I have gotten into a groove and have had a chance to figure out a routine and think through some #momgoals.

As a stay-at-home-mom, I want to make sure that I’m carving out time for myself. I can’t take care of my kids or my family if I don’t take care of myself first. It’s my goal to schedule a little “me” time each week and make sure I’m keeping up with exercising. I’m training for a half marathon this fall, so that will help keep me on track and have something personal I’m working towards.

Another goal I have is to make sure I am spending one-on-one time with both kids. I don’t necessarily want to quantify that, I want to create an awareness. There are natural times most days when I can have that time, whether it’s reading a few books with Ben while Hannah naps or playing peek-a-boo and singing songs with Hannah while Ben is at school.

I can see how quickly a trying day can turn into a meltdown from all parties involved and one of my goals is to use strategies I’m trying to teach Ben if I’m frustrated or losing my patience with his threenager behavior. They work so well! There’s magic in taking a deep breath or giving myself a time out.

Finally, a goal I have is to stay true to myself as a mom. I’m not an aspiring Pinterest mom – I’d rather just bake plain Jane chocolate chip cookies or play outside in the backyard than put together an elaborate craft or Pinterest-perfect birthday party. I am a mom who aspires to be present with her kids, who loves sitting on the floor building tower houses and who is totally a-ok singing “Skinamarinky dinky dink” in public.

I am really in the thick of it now with the ages of my kiddos. Three is no two, that’s for sure. Anyone who says “terrible twos” is delusional in my experience {and no, I’m not saying “terrible threes” more just emphasizing that three is wayyyy harder than two}. Having a threenager and a non-walking, very heavy 12-month old is extremely challenging both physically and mentally.

I’m hopeful I can take some pauses and evaluate how things are going. Since I won’t have regular performance reviews I need to rely on myself to provide constructive feedback and identify areas of improvement. Thankfully the internet exists and I have a world of resources and mom friends at my fingertips so I’m constantly learning and improving as a mom.

{Note to self: Hannah is not a fan of the splash pad!}

It’s my hope that my kiddos feel loved and cared for and that they grow up to be independent, well-adjusted members of society who can make their own decisions and pursue their passions. So far Ben seems like he’s on track.

Summer in the City

We’ve spent a couple weekends at home in Seattle over the last month. It’s been really tricky keeping up with two houses in the spring. There is so much to do on both houses and not nearly enough time. This last weekend was spent in Seattle and we had the best time!

Ben is out of school now for the summer and we’ve been loving the warmer weather and our late afternoon park trips, popsicles and trips to the ice cream shop {thanks for the ice cream money, Nana!}.

During the week Ben will mostly spend the first half of the day at summer camp. He’s doing camp sessions at the preschool he went to this last school year, as well as a bike camp called Pedalheads. We also have some weeks with nothing planned – can’t wait to get to the beach once the water warms up a bit more – and we’re planning on spending an extended period out in the mountains.

For now, though, we’ve been enjoying the first tastes of the sunny summer weather we are blessed with here in Seattle. And, I have to say, I’m crossing my fingers we don’t get another smoky summer from nearby wildfires.

{Ben made whipped cream to go along with our farmers market strawberries!}

Last weekend, in honor of Father’s Day, Alex and Ben did a big bike ride down on Lake Washington. The street that parallels Lake Washington near us closes every once in a while for Bike Sundays. It was the perfect day to take advantage of the road closure to get out and cruise. We wrapped up the afternoon with a trip to Madison Beach near our house.

We pulled out the grill, Alex and Ben did some weeding and hosed off Ben’s outdoor toys and gear and had a really nice time in the backyard.

Seattle is a gorgeous city year-round but there is nowhere quite like it in the summer. I swear the sky is a different color blue here – it is so deep and the sun is so bright. We absolutely love living here, especially with kids. There’s so much to look forward to — the beach, al fresco dining, our Friday afternoon farmers markets, the amazing food we have here and the glorious sunshine. It’s going to be a great summer!

Swimming Lessons

Ben recently completed an intense two-week swimming lessons program. His lessons were Monday through Thursday for two weeks. Spoiler alert: he loved it and made tremendous progress from start to finish.

Teacher Susie has her own pool at her house and has made quite the business of teaching swimming lessons to area kids. I believe her business is completely word of mouth and all of her classes fill up completely. She has quite a reputation and everyone seems to know about her program and the results she gets.

Her approach is a bit different than anything I’ve seen before, and it works. She has it all down pat. Her class sizes are unusually large and mixed age and ability but she’s got it figured out. Her pool shape has this little one-foot deep section and a two-and-a-half-foot shallow end so it’s great for tots.

Teacher Susie is no-nonsense and has very, very high expectations of the kids, which I appreciate. Her approach worked very well for Ben and I appreciated her firm boundaries and how much she pushed him. He responded really well to her style and progressed significantly.

By the second week Ben was jumping off the diving board and swimming {struggling!} to the side of the pool. Honestly, I don’t need Ben to be a beautiful swimmer – I need to feel confident that if when he jumps in without anyone there to catch him {oh wait – that happened on day one of swimming lessons} that he can safely make it to the side. And he can! He is capable.

At this point Ben needs to practice, practice, practice more to build up strength in the water but goodness gracious he’s getting there! He’s so comfortable and confident in the water and he is really starting to learn how to swim.

It was SO fun to watch him at swimming lessons these last two weeks. He loved it so much and it was undeniably the highlight of every single day for both of us. We’re signed up for another session later on this summer, so hopefully we’ll get a lot of practice in in the meantime.

Ben is Three

The toddler years are in full force over here — our little Benjamin Ames is THREE! He sure is acting like a bigger kid these days – he is becoming so independent, opinionated and chatty. Ben is so much fun to be around and dang, he is the sweetest.

Ben’s stats:

  • Weight: 29 pounds 12 ounces {25th percentile}
  • Height: 37 1/4 inches {35th percentile}
  • Clothing size: 3T except for pants and shorts – he’s still 18m, 24m or 2T in bottoms!
  • Shoe size: size 7 toddler
  • Favorite foods: crackers, pasta, any type of cheese, yogurt, smoothies, cottage cheese, apple sauce, olives, tomato soup {don’t worry, he eats veggies too, these are just his faves!}
  • Favorite activities: make believing, playing independently, pushing his cars/trucks around, painting, listening to music, playing outside, watching Daniel Tiger, riding his bike, the pump track, gymnastics, swimming, reading books together or looking at books independently

So many of the little nuances we’ve seen along the way in Ben’s personality are really starting to shine. Ben is a blast! He is such a fun kid and I feel like his personality is really infectious. He is just the absolute sweetest boy – I just love his innocence and his confidence – the combination is so endearing. Ben is both extremely goofy and gets a kick out of making people laugh and he’s also really serious.

Ben has a lot of leadership qualities and loves to be in charge. He likes to tell us the exact order of how and when we do things or where to put things – fair warning: don’t put something in the wrong spot or you’ll have to answer to Mr. Ben!

As a three year old, Ben is still extremely active, as he has been his entire life. He is very, very physical and needs big body movements every day. He loves to run, ride his bike and climb on things. While he’s super active he is very capable and happy playing quietly pushing his cars and trucks around the house, reading books and coloring. Following directions; however, is not currently one of Ben’s strong suits. I find he has very selective hearing these days.

One of my favorite things about Ben is how athletic he is. His confidence has been beaming lately because he has been so successful in new physical activities. Now that he’s a little older I love watching him climb at the park, challenge his body at gymnastics and fly around the sidewalk on his bike. He got a scooter for his birthday and that has been a source of tremendous pride for him and joy for me. Swimming lessons started recently and that, in addition to the scooter, has been so heartwarming to watch. I so enjoy sitting back and watching him learn a new skill.

Ben is very friendly and rarely seems shy. He is quick to offer a greeting to an adult we pass by, tell a story to his teacher at the start of the day or go introduce himself to a kid of any age at the park. He is quite the chatty Cathy! Sadly, though, he’s started to notice when adults don’t say “hi” back – so, if you’re reading this, pay attention to the little ones waving at you and don’t crush their spirit by not saying hello – or better yet, just be friendly and say hi to everyone you pass along the way – be like Ben.

As with most toddlers, Ben’s emotions run strong and can change at the drop of a hat, especially when tired or hungry. We’ve been so impressed with how well Ben does most of the time at regulating his emotions if they’re getting out of control {unless of course he’s hungry or tired}. He loves reading books by himself or pushing his cars around and finds these activities very calming. Thanks to the show Daniel Tiger, he has learned some songs that he can sing when he needs to settle down, or even when he needs to remember how to be patient while waiting.

Lately we’ve noticed a big uptick in Ben’s emotional intelligence. He has been labeling his feelings so much recently. It is so, so cool to hear him say “I’m SO FRUSTRATED!” or tell us when he’s feeling a little upset because of something that happened, or nervous about something that’s about to happen.

Very recently we noticed a change with his compassion and empathy. Instead of jumping to say “sorry” after an offense, we’ve been coaching Ben to come over, pat the person on the shoulder and ask if they are ok and if there’s anything he can do to help/make them feel better. It actually is so much better than a quick “sorry” {or worse, “sorry, not sorry”} then back to playing and it truly creates a special moment. He’s begun to do this on his own and also in situations he’s not even involved in.

The other day Jackson ate some of Hannah’s food while we were having a picnic and I was trying to model for Ben how I would deal with that. I told Jackson that I was really upset with him for eating Hannah’s pasta and very frustrated that happened. Ben came over and gave me a kiss and asked if he could help. It’s the sweetest darn thing!

Speaking of Jackson, oh my goodness, Ben and Jackson are becoming such great pals! Ben is SO good with Jackson. He’s learning how to use our commands and hand signals with Jackson and when we’re out at The Lodge he will throw the ball for Jackson. A few weeks ago Jackson ran out the front door in our Seattle house and Ben was the one who got him to come inside, easy peasy.

In addition to being a super sweet brother to his dog, Ben is nailing it in the big brother department to his baby sister. He’s starting to figure out how to play independently near her without her trying to grab his toys and he’s also beginning to engage with her in a toy he’s playing with.

I continue to be amazed that most often he can hold it together and stay patient and calm when Hannah is driving him crazy and trying to steal his toys. The moments when he comes up and tickles her, makes her laugh or helps her absolutely melt my heart. I’m so excited about the sibling dynamic and I coach him a lot about how to help Hannah and teach her how to do things and how to talk to her or give her a different toy to play with when she wants to play with what he has. Sometimes I’ll catch him say “Hannah, you’re still learning! I know it’s frustrating!” and gosh that makes me feel like I’m doing something right!

One of Ben’s biggest recent accomplishments is that he has become potty trained! It was a long road getting to that point and we are so proud of him for figuring it out. We spent 8 months trying to rely on intrinsic motivators with limited success and honestly within the first few days of using gummy bears as a motivator he nailed it. We haven’t started tackling overnight potty training but recently Ben has started to protest wearing a diaper at night so I think we’re probably close…

The other day I asked Ben if he could help me and he stared blankly at me and said “No, I can’t. I’m too busy standing here.” There are days when I swear he’s training to be a stand-up comedian with a dry sense of humor – he keeps me on my toes with the things that come out of his mouth. He’s really starting to understand one-liners and more mature responses. “Yeah right, I don’t think so!”

Favorite phrases:

  • “what the heck?”
  • “what’s going on with….?”
  • “I sure can!”
  • “No. I can’t.”

Ben is becoming so independent. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to let him do things on his own since I’m so accustomed to doing them for him or for Hannah. Recently Ben has started to say “please don’t” when we’re providing help unnecessarily. Just the other day he unwrapped a little Babybel package of cheese completely on his own from start to finish, and the day before that he grabbed a little cup and filled it up with water from a big Gatorade water jug at a mountain resort after a hike. These little reminders keep me in check with how big he’s becoming.

{Practicing getting dressed on his own}

Somewhere around 2 1/2 we noticed how dang observant Ben is – holy cow, the things he notices are shocking sometimes. While on a walk he noticed a Tesla and asked how you open the doors because the handles were different. Ben is very detail-oriented and he appreciates things in order, always knows where things belong and, not surprisingly, appreciates some predictability and routine.

We have absolutely entered the “why?” phase and I LOVE it. Sometimes I’m at a loss for words as to how to explain why something is the way it is and it makes me really have to think. It is so much fun seeing how curious he is and hearing him engage in something enough to ask questions. Sometimes Ben will ask me to “say that again” I think because he is cataloging it in his little brain. His memory also blows me away – some of the experiences or minute details he can recall are so surprising for someone so little.

Ben is about to finish out his first year of preschool {he already finished co-op}. It’s been a big deal having him comfortable being dropped off at school without us, after having spent nearly his first two and a half years at home during the day. Ben loved his two schools and has made some really nice friends and become a part of two sweet communities. It brings me so much joy hearing him talk about his friends from school.

From preschool to gymnastics to swimming lessons to riding his balance bike, Ben has been working really hard at becoming a big, independent kid. He’s had such a confidence boost recently and seems to be starting to figure out who he is.

It’s been so heartwarming to see the transformation from playing alongside other kids to playing with them. This really has started happening over the last three months or so. Occasionally at the park he’ll go up to some other kids and they’ll play together – he’s usually comfortable going up, unprompted, and introducing himself to them. He seems to prefer to play by himself most days at the park. He loves push around the dump trucks or ride his bike. He loves the days when I coordinate with his friend Olive’s mama and Olive can come ride her scooter with Ben.

Ben loves his new big boy room – he even calls it “my big boy room.” The transition to his new room and bed has {so far} been much easier than I expected. I think that’s also been a big confidence boost for him to have that space that is *just* his. He also had the opportunity to weigh in on the room – he helped pick some of the decor and the furniture and it seems like he appreciated that we went with a car theme for his bedroom.

I could go on for a really long time about what Ben is up to these days. He is a ball of fun and energy and he’s just an all-around great kid. Three hit him like a ton of bricks – we’ve seen so many changes in the last week or two and it’s been really fun to see the development.  Ben is acting like such a big kid these days. I am so excited for summer with a three-year old!

Ben is Two

Ben is One

Ben’s Birth Story

Ben’s Third Birthday Celebration

As with most birthdays in our family, Ben’s celebration lasted several days. This year we decided to introduce him to the concept of a friends birthday party – previously we had only had family birthdays.

Ben’s birthday celebration kicked off on Thursday, the day before his actual birthday. He got to celebrate at school with his friends. When asked what special treat he wanted to bring he picked the Late July cheese sandwich crackers. That is totally Ben – crackers are undeniably his favorite food.

Friday was Ben’s actual birthday. We decorated the house a bit for Ben and had him open up his family gifts right away that morning. Alex’s and my gift to Ben was a scooter, which is what he had been asking for.

I took Ben and Hannah to the zoo that morning, then after nap time we went to Madison Park to test out the new scooter. He’s a natural! All it took was one lap around and he had basically mastered it. He had an absolute BLAST. Alex met us at the park and then we had dinner at Cactus, Ben’s favorite restaurant, before heading back to the park for some more scootering.

On Sunday we had Ben’s birthday party! It was so much fun – he had a camping-themed party and invited all of his buddies from his two schools. We asked his friends to bring their favorite set of wheels, so Ben got to scoot around with his pals. He and his friend Olive love to toot around together and a few other friends joined in. He and Olive are quite the pair – they are on the same page energy-wise and they have so much fun together.

I just loved celebrating this sweet boy and all of his accomplishments in his three short years. Alex and I are over the moon about this kid and we were so delighted to have such a lovely celebration for Ben.

Happy 3rd Birthday Ben!

Today is Ben’s third birthday! We are so excited to be celebrating our three-year old this weekend. He is such a joy and it has been so fun watching him turn into such a big kid lately. I’ll do a big post about what’s going on with Ben after his 3-year well child checkup so I can include his up-to-date measurements. For now, I’m sending my sweet boy some big birthday hugs! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Ben in his fourth year.

Here are some of my favorite photos that tell the story of Ben’s first three years:

{Ben was born at 33 weeks 2 days and weighed 3 pounds 3 ounces. He was so tiny I could stick him down my shirt for Kangaroo Care while he was in the NICU.}

{One of the best moments of his life was when we took Ben home from the NICU after 26 days!}

{Six months in and Ben was sitting up on his own, eating all of the food and was showing us signs of his sweet, fun demeanor.}

{Ben has always been very physical and has excelled in gross motor skills. We noticed from a very early age that he would continuously practice new skills as a way to perfect them.}

{This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of Ben. It captures his sweet smile and joy. He’s always been such a happy kid!}

{We joke that Ben never learned to walk – he just learned to run. Honestly…}

{So dang cute!}

{Ben asked Alex to take a picture with him – Ben was 21 months here and his little personality was really starting to emerge on our family trip to Arizona.}

{This kid is an adrenaline junkie!}

{So full of giggles and this kid loves his milk. Gosh, his laugh is the best.}

{One of my favorites. Mr. Ben is the best big brother – even from the very beginning. He melts my heart how stinking sweet he is with his baby sister. It’s every mama’s dream.}

{We love our coffee dates!}

{We are so proud of this kid and his love for riding his bike. He has been working so hard to learn this skill.}

{Ben can be so, so serious and so carefree and entertaining. His personality tows both ends of the spectrum really nicely.}

{2 1/2 was a freaking blast. Ben in the snow as a 2.5 year old was basically the best thing ever. Watching the pure joy and enjoyment of him playing in the snow was a highlight of my life.}

{2 1/2 and skiing independently – gosh, this kid!}

{One of my favorites – these two melt my heart. I love when Ben comes and lies down and plays with his sister. They are the sweetest!}

{Such a cool kid!}

{In the middle of our photo shoot Ben launched himself off of the ottoman, being true to form. Our amazing photographer captured it, along with his shadow, in the most perfect and natural way. This is Ben.}

{This is also Ben. One of the other moms at our preschool calls him a rocket!}

{This kid. He couldn’t be more amazing if he tried! Happy birthday, buddy!}