Category Archives: Benjamin

Another Preschool Update

Our start to the school year has been a bit of a rocky one. A few weeks after Ben started his original preschool we realized it was not the right fit for him so we withdrew. Seattle has a very competitive preschool market and most preschools won’t accept kiddos until they’re 2.5, which Ben is not. Given that, I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to find another spot for him.

Before I even decided to remove him from the original school I contacted his co-op preschool that he went to last year to see if they had space in either of their 2’s classes. They did!

I brought up our unfortunate preschool situation with my moms group and one of the moms said that her daughter’s preschool had an opening. Score! Another mom sent me her massive spreadsheet where she outlined every preschool in the area with her notes from her tours {interestingly, she toured the school we ended up sending Ben to originally and had unfavorable comments}.

I spent a couple weeks doing tours, contacting preschools and trying to use my “spare time” to find another school for Ben. As I was nearing the end of my maternity leave and the return to work I wanted to make sure to find another spot for him to be a big kid and give our au pair a break and some time with just Hannah. It is a LOT to manage Ben and Hannah alone.

My time, networking and connections have paid off. We have officially enrolled Ben in two schools to allow for him to be independent four mornings a week.

Two mornings a week he’ll be at the co-op. Parent involvement at a cooperative school is pretty high. One day the parent stays and “works” at the school and the other day the parent drops the child off for the morning and he’s under the care and instruction of the teacher and half of the other parents. There are jobs and meetings, too, naturally. I was assigned the role of class “sunshine chair” which is a very involved but fun role. Basically, I’ll help foster community among parents and families and arrange playdates and teacher thank you gifts.

The other two mornings a week he’ll be at a different preschool. The other school is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, about a 10-minute drive at that time of day. It’s a super sweet, highly regarded preschool. Ben did a trial date there and we both loved it! He officially began at his new school this week.

It’s not a perfect solution, and both locations aren’t really walkable from our house, which is disappointing. I’ll end up being a lot more involved in drop-offs and attending co-op once a week so I’ll need to balance that with my work schedule. But! We found a workable solution and one where Ben is happy and can thrive.

Mama’s 5K!

When I was about 4 weeks postpartum I signed up for a 5K at the end of September and a 10K at the end of October. Back in August when it was light out a bit later in the evening, somehow I thought I’d have enough time to train for said runs. Reality sank in quickly and I’ve been able to get only one run in each week – on the weekends!

While I’m still able to exercise during the week, I can’t take Hannah on a run with me yet {it’s recommended to wait until about 8 months to take an infant in a jogging stroller due to their neck strength and head control} and Stacey can’t watch Hannah yet, sooooo that means I can only go for a run when Alex can watch Hannah. That is rather limiting when it’s now getting dark so early in the evenings – I am not keen on running in the dark, so I get to run on the weekends.

In any case, I really pushed myself and showed up to my 5K two weekends ago. I felt very unprepared and wasn’t sure I would be able to run the whole thing.

My little cheerleader, Ben, joined me on the run and it helped me keep going. I wanted to show him how hard I was working for something that I really wanted – what a better example of perseverance? I ran the whole thing {thank goodness it was almost all flat!} in 33 minutes and it felt so great to have accomplished that feat.

Now on to training for that 10K coming up in 2.5 weeks…. that’s going to be the real challenge!!!!

Ben’s First Haircut

A few weeks ago we pulled the trigger and got Ben his first haircut! I can’t believe he was more than two before getting his little blond locks trimmed for the first time. I was waiting and waiting to see if he’d develop a head full of beautiful golden curls but they were getting frizzy and looked a bit messy so Alex convinced me to take him in.

{This was the “before” picture}

Not too much of a difference, really. He just got cleaned up and has a bit of a fresher look. He love, love, loved driving the airplane and car chairs that they have in the kids salon in our neighborhood.

Preschool & Childcare Update

Just over a week ago I posted an update about Ben and his preschool. I posted it while he was at school and after he came home I realized I needed to negate the update.

Without going into all of the details surrounding the circumstances, Alex and I made the difficult decision to withdraw Ben from his preschool, effective immediately. I couldn’t shake a gut feeling I had that this school wasn’t right for Ben. When it came down to it, he was very consistently telling us he didn’t like school or the teachers {but he liked the kids and toys and the piano} and I just didn’t feel like he was getting anything out of it. I also didn’t want his first experience with school to be a negative one. So, we decided we’re going to look elsewhere for a school that is more professional and provides better care for kiddos.

In related news, we’re awaiting the confirmation paperwork to come through for our new au pair! She’ll be joining us from England at the very end of December this year. This leaves a month of a childcare gap for us, which we’re filling with a temporary nanny.

Interestingly, our new au pair is the cousin of Stacey, our current au pair. I was getting so unbelievably frustrated with the process of finding an au pair and it ended up just working out that Stacey’s cousin’s timing and experience aligned with what we’re looking for. We can’t wait to meet her after Christmas!

Stay tuned for an update on the preschool search. I’m taking at least one tour this week and hope to find something we can start soonish with Ben. Most preschools have a minimum starting age of 2.5, which Ben won’t hit until the end of November. We’ll see what happens!

 

One-on-One Time

One of the biggest challenges of now having a second child is making sure Alex and I are spending one-on-one time with both kiddos. Naturally I am spending oodles of time with Hannah, thus defaulting to more Alex-Ben time. It’s the reverse that gets trickier.

Lately, Alex and I have been going out of our way to make sure I am able to spend quality time with Ben, just the two of us. Even if it’s ten minutes here or there, like giving him a bath or putting him to bed. We’ve been a little lax on our “green light” wake up rule and have allowed Ben to get up earlier to spend time with me in the morning before Hannah wakes up. It’s important that we have that time together.

Sweet Ben has started requesting cuddle time at 4:30 in the morning. As much as Alex and I would both love to snuggle him for the rest of the night in bed with us we know that’s a slippery slope and don’t want to have to undo that down the road. So, our days have been starting around 4:30 {or earlier for those of us who wake up to feed baby Hannah, usually from 3-4} while we work to get Ben to stay in his bed for the rest of the night. It’s hard to be too upset about this since all Ben wants is to come and cuddle with us, buttttt we really like to sleep in later than 4:30.

Ben and I have had a few mama/Ben dates, most recently with a run down to Madison Park with a pit stop at the coffee shop, park and beach. It was such a special morning with Ben.

Alex is also trying to find ways to spend time with Hannah. He’ll often bring her with him in the mornings when he walks Jackson and that’s not only a great start to the day but a great way for him to connect with her and enjoy cuddle time.

We’re still figuring out how to balance our two kiddos who both have very different needs, demands and schedules, and I think we’re doing okay. Maybe someday things will slow down and normalize? Probably not!

Our Preschooler

Ben started preschool a few weeks ago. We were so excited to have the opportunity to expose Ben to a Spanish-speaking immersion preschool right in our neighborhood. Since this is his first drop-off experience we decided to start small with two mornings per week and we’re toying with the idea of increasing that to four, especially when I go back to work.

The first few days of Ben’s experience at preschool were not stellar. He was less than pleased to be dropped off in a new environment without his parents or Stacey. There were some major meltdowns and stressful mornings for sweet Ben as he adjusted to his new school. It was heartbreaking dropping him off sobbing and then picking him up sobbing at the end of the day. It’s hard to feel right about that and not want to just cuddle him up in my arms and hold him tight and bring him home.

After his third day I had started to get a little concerned about a few things. The student-to-teacher ratios seemed too high, he was having a lot of accidents, I didn’t know how he was doing during the day… mostly little stuff. I scheduled a meeting with the director and learned that the school is just really, really laid back and loosey goosey. We also switched the days of the week we send him so that the ratios are lower since Ben is one of the youngest kids and seems to require a little more attention. The school has a French program as well as a Spanish program and it seems that Ben was gravitating more towards the French teacher, soooo I guess Ben’s learning French now!? Totally practical.

I’m happy to report that day four was our breakthrough day! He cried a little bit when Stacey dropped him off, then when she came to pick him up he didn’t want to leave. I received an update mid-morning from the director saying that he was having a really great day and he had re-joined the Spanish class. Whew!

{Ben loves taking the bus to school! The day I took him I felt like such an urban mom.}

The school hosted a BBQ one evening recently, which we were happy to attend as a way to make Ben more comfortable by spending time there with us, as well as socialize with the other parents and teachers and meet the other kids. Ben was totally comfortable at the school and we left with the same warm fuzzy feeling we got there when we initially did the tour before signing Ben up. The rough start was bound to turn around and it looks like it is doing just that.

Ben’s First Day of Preschool

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

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

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

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

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

Ben Quarterly Update: Summer

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

Ben’s 27-month stats:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mama Moments

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

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

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

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

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

{No explanation needed!}

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

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

{This boy has so much of my heart.}

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

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

Hannah’s Newborn Photo Shoot

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