Category Archives: Benjamin

Ben & Hannah

People ask me all the time if I think that Hannah looks like Ben, or if I think she looks more like her father or me. Some people think Hannah is a spitting image of Ben, others think she and Ben look nothing alike. To me, I see some resemblance but they have some very different features, I think, and it’s also tough because at this age they’re at opposite ends of the weight spectrum.

I’ve been having fun with Google Photos and their historical photos and collages they put together. It seems like Hannah is hitting her milestones at about the same date that Ben did, so Alex and I have been loving all of the “on this day in 2017…” photos of Ben learning to sit up.

I certainly think their eyes are similar – and, at least for now, Hannah has kept her blue eyes, just like her big brother. Alex and I aren’t convinced they’re here to stay, though.

Maybe I’ll dig up some old pictures of Alex and me and we can see if our kids look like us when we were babies? Stay tuned…

Toddler Skiing Adventures

Last winter we got Ben out on skis for the first time. We bought some little plastic skis that attached to his snow boots and pulled him around in the snow. He loved it! This winter we stepped up our game significantly and invested in a helmet, goggles, real deal skis and boots and even ski socks for our little learner.

Naturally since Alex and I are very much into skiing we’ve been eagerly awaiting the day when we could introduce Ben to one of our favorite pastimes. His first day on skis this year didn’t go quite as we had hoped.

The stars did not align for us on Ben’s first official ski day. It was just after Christmas and Ben fell asleep in the car on the way to the mountain. He woke up on the wrong side of the car seat when we arrived and it took a solid hour and a half for him to chill out. During the course of that 90 minutes when we were *those* people Alex and I were trying to be conscious to not push the whole concept of skiing too much so as to create negative feelings towards it.

Eventually we decided to bring our gear up to the ski lodge and go play in the snow and have some lunch. Lo and behold, apparently, despite having had a big breakfast, Ben was starving. He ate a gigantic hot dog, in addition to some chicken and fries. Our lunch lasted more than an hour because he wouldn’t stop eating. Finally he told us he wanted to go skiing, so off we went.

By that point we had been gone for quite a while and I hadn’t left enough milk for us to be away from Hannah for more than a handful of hours. We called it a day when we were on a high note and Ben wanted to keep skiing. Despite the rocky start, we chalked it up as a success!

Day two happened last weekend and it was SO much fun. Ben loved his first day on the magic carpet. Hannah and I were the official cheerleaders while Alex played ski instructor. For me, the best part of the day was watching the pure joy on Ben’s face as he and Alex sailed down the bunny hill.

I didn’t get many good photos because I wanted to take a video, plus it’s not super easy to capture a great picture on the bunny hill…

In any case, I think Ben is hooked. This time around he wasn’t interested in eating lunch, pushed it aside and said he wanted to go skiing. Alex happily obliged and they had a blast.

Sweet Hannah loved the fresh mountain air and had herself a lovely day, too.

We can’t wait for day 3 on skis for Ben! We’re hoping to be able to sneak out to the pass to get Ben on skis as often as possible this winter so he can continue to get comfortable with it. It’s our intention to get him started in ski school next winter! Hope that pans out 🙂

#Momlife

I’ve been moming real hard lately and it has been wonderful. We have had so much going on recently and I have really savored the time I spent with my littles, in particular the one-on-one time.

The one-on-one time I have been able to spend with Ben recently has been extra special. With all of the people around for the holidays and all of the change we had going on I was really missing my biggest little and I think the feeling was mutual. It’s so hard when there’s so much going on to be able to break away just the two of us and have some mama/Ben time. I was so grateful for more opportunities when December turned into January.

I have built-in time with Ben, just the two of us, four mornings a week when I take him to preschool. Once a week I stay for the two-hour class at his co-op and we get to play together. He absolutely loves co-op and that time is really special for both of us.

Usually co-op ends with a steamed milk or a hot chocolate – partly as a special treat for keeping his pants dry and partly because I’m a softie. I never thought I’d be a softie but I totally am. And I’m ok with that!

Ben has been growing up so fast and I can’t stand it. It’s hard to think how close we are to times when he’s not going to need us as much and when he’s going to be so independent he won’t want our help constantly, and, heartbreakingly, the time will come when he won’t want to cuddle or be picked up all the time.

Obviously I want my kids to grow up and be independent and self-sufficient but I love so much this beautiful season that we’re in right now. I know every milestone and every phase results in more and more fun but I’m getting so much joy from where we’re at that I want to relish it as long as I can. My babies aren’t going to be babies for much longer, after all.

My littlest is growing at warp speed. It did not go this fast with Ben as a baby, that’s for sure. I hope that life starts to slow down once our weekends will be spent together as a family in the mountains. Something tells me that’s naive.

I also savor the moments, though, when I can enjoy my coffee + biscotti in the morning, read my book {currently reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine}, cook and plan out the week. My time cooking is extremely limited these days, as is my computer and planning time. I have become much better at making the time to have some coffee and read in the mornings by purposefully waking up early. I absolutely love sitting in silence in the dark, enjoying the calm of the morning.

If I’m being honest, the part of #momlife I like the least right now is trying to schedule in time to pump. I’m constantly on the go for my job and it is really tricky some days to make the time. My work schedule is flexible but some days there is simply not enough time between appointments. Thankfully I’ve been able to have a low/no-stress approach to this so far and while I’m hoping to be able to keep up with Hannah’s needs with breast milk, I’m totally fine if we need to supplement with formula.

{cup of ice from the coffee shop to keep the milk cold!}

I’ve had a bit of an interesting go of things recently as a cat mom. Poor Henry got injured a few weeks ago and has required quite a lot of follow-up treatment as a result. We were at the vet every day last week and I’m happy to say Henry has made a complete recovery now. My sweet Ben melted everyone’s heart at the vet, though, when we had to drop Henry off and say good bye – Ben bent down in front of the door of Henry’s carrier and said “Bye Henry! I hope you feel better. Have a good day!” There’s nothing quite like a 2-year old.

The best moments as of late are the evenings, right around 7:00, when I’m sitting down to feed Hannah and Ben comes in to say goodnight to us. Hannah always takes precedent over me. He comes in, wraps his little arms around his baby sister and gives her a gentle squeeze then makes sure to give her a kiss – sometimes on the head, other times on the hand, and then, so sweetly, says “goodnight Hannah!” and then I look up at his father and we acknowledge that we know we’ve done something right.

In “#dadlife” news – Alex has also been dading pretty hard, too. He and Ben have had some really special time together over the last few weeks. They went rock climbing, swimming and to the gymnastics gym recently. Ben and Alex are two peas in a pod and Ben is so much like his dad. It melts my heart watching the two of them together.

While I have such limited time to myself right now, it’s so hard to imagine life before kids these days. These two little humans have made my heart {and life!} so full. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ben is 2 1/2!

Ben has been *just* two for half a year and now we can officially call him our little “two and a half year old.” There is a stark difference between two and two and a half. And let me tell you, we’re there.

Ben’s Stats:

  • Weight: 28.8 pounds as of early November {around 25%}
  • Height: 34.5″ {35-50%}
  • Number of teeth: 19 {FINALLY Ben’s canine teeth and three of his 2-year molars came in!}
  • Clothing size: mostly 2T, though there are a lot of brands of pants that are way too big on Ben. Cat & Jack pants fit the best.
  • Shoe size: size 7 toddler
  • Favorite foods: tuna, any type of cheese, crackers, mushrooms, sometimes broccoli, smoothies, chocolate, sometimes eggs, pork in any form
  • Favorite activities: listening to music, singing songs, running, watching Daniel Tiger, playing with “things that go,” spending time with dada, swimming

Some fun developmental things as of late are: Ben can spell his name out loud, he can count objects up to 10 {reliably up to 4 or 5}, he knows most shapes and he has started drawing circles instead of just lines. I’ve noticed that Ben has started more correctly saying personal pronouns {he used to say “you” instead of “me”}, which is really helpful. And singing! He can sing whole songs with multiple verses. So cool!

Language development has always been something Ben has excelled at. He is speaking in full sentences now. In the last 2 months or so we’ve noticed another significant leap in his verbal skills. He is inquisitive and strings together very complete sentences – often starting with “mom” or “dad” and ending with a question {sometimes an unprompted “please” gets thrown in there too!}.

It’s so fun to see him string together a whole thought or a very accurate sentence. I love hearing him ask questions – it’s so neat to hear that he just *gets* who/what/where/when/why and the difference and he knows when someone is asking him a question. Watching a kid develop is so darn neat.

A few new phrases or sentences he has been saying include:

  • “Dad, can you not help please?”
  • “Sure!”
  • “No way Jose!”
  • “I don’t want you to go.” {my least favorite thing he’s started saying when either parent has to go to work.}
  • “Mom, can you just go use the potty?” {this is usually when he’s up to no good and wants the adult to leave him alone.}

Potty training has been going on now since just after Ben turned two. It was slow and steady with limited noticeable progress for quite some time, partly due to all of the changes going on for Ben and I think partly due to his young age/lack of readiness. In the last month we’ve rounded the corner and are making great strides and by goodness I think he is almost considered potty trained during the day! He’s having significantly more “dry” days than not and has been resistant to diapers at nap/bedtime and we recently decided to eliminate diapers from naps.

About a month ago Ben started showing more signs of independence while using the potty – he’d initiate on his own and at home he can do everything by himself. This was a huge win for him. We started offering rewards if he could make it a certain amount of time without having an accident and that seemed to help pull everything together.

Benjamin is about as sweet as they come. He’s affectionate and caring and shows a lot of empathy. It has been so endearing watching his adoration for his baby sister. The moments when he comes up to her unprompted and says hi or starts rocking her or he’ll just stick his face in her face and then tickle her tummy. Sometimes when she’s crying he’ll tell me to feed “baby sister” or he’ll put her pacifier in her mouth. He got Hannah to giggle for the first time!

He has started really identifying emotions lately, as well. It’s been a fascinating learning experience for all of us to name emotions that Hannah is likely feeling and then next time she starts crying Ben will repeat back one of the possible emotions she might be feeling. We’ve been noticing how much emotional support and language he’s picked up from his new preschool and from Daniel Tiger. Sometimes he’ll go give Hannah a pacifier or rock her in her little seat. He’ll often go over and hug her and sing “rock-a-by-baby” to her too.

Lately Ben has been getting even more advanced physical moves. He has a natural athletic ability and has been working on his balance. climbing and jumping. He’s taken to climbing on top of a big box and jumping off of it, or, his new trick is climbing onto the coffee table and launching himself into the chair or onto the couch. Gymnastics is soon coming! And so is skiing!!

One of the very biggest changes for Ben in the last quarter has been the introduction of a drop-off preschool. Ben began the start of the year attending a Spanish-immersion preschool. Within about 3 weeks of starting school we determined it wasn’t the right fit for him. Shortly thereafter we pieced together a drop-off preschool two days a week in combination with the same co-op preschool he attended last year, which includes one drop-off per week.

Ben adores his teachers at both schools. He very quickly bonded with Teacher Emiko at his new drop-off school and she has been unbelievably supportive of him during his time there. He eased into the drop-off routine very quickly. He still gets a little sad at drop-off, especially when I’m the one bringing him, but I always get a positive report that he’s becoming more and more comfortable.

He is very comfortable at the co-op, which made the transition to dropping him off there very easy. It’s no big deal for me to leave. He love, love, loves Teacher Shannon and is familiar with the space and the toys. In fact, he is so comfortable that he’s started to be rather mischievous at co-op!

Interestingly, Teacher Emiko says Ben is most himself when he’s painting and doing sensory play. Ben has always been very into different arts – he absolutely loves music and he’s been a natural dancer. He really enjoys coloring and playing with play dough. I hadn’t painted with him very often at home {sometimes we’ll do it at co-op} but it looks like I’m going to have to now!

It’s been fun to watch his artwork change recently too. He definitely has a style. He loves to color in circles, mix paint to see how the different colors create new colors and he likes to use as much color as possible to “make it colorful.”

There are a lot of life skills Ben is learning right now. At co-op, he’s responsible for clearing his plate, cup and place mat and putting the plate and cup in the dishwasher {after dumping the water out of the cup and cleaning off any remaining food from the plate!}. I was shocked to see him do it all on his own the first time. Since seeing that, he’s been my helper setting the table at dinnertime.

Ben is a very independent kid. He loves to do things on his own and thrives on practicing new skills over and over again until he’s mastered them. He is very proud of himself that he can climb into his chair at the dinner table and buckle himself in all on his own {and we’re pretty proud of him too!}. He has been practicing using utensils and really has nailed the use of a spoon. He loves eating cereal with milk and practicing using a spoon. Very recently he’s wanted to be in charge of putting toothpaste on his toothbrush or picking a clean pair of underwear or deciding which jammies to wear. He loves being helpful and I can usually get his assistance in setting the table or taking the silverware out of the dishwasher when it needs to be emptied.

One of my favorite recent milestones has been pretend play. Ben has started to play by himself and act out different scenes, if you will. This just came out of the blue and happened completely naturally and it has been so, so very fun to see. He loves to give his cars and trucks baths/showers at night and he has been playing pretend with his baby doll.

Over the last several months Ben has developed an affinity for “things that go” and has accumulated quite a few toy trucks and trains. Garbage day is very exciting in our house – Ben has a step stool in front of the window so he can watch the garbage truck collect our trash. It’s always a special day when we get to see a firetruck or a digger or a big dump truck out on the street. Ben likes very small cars/trucks/trains – ones he can hold in his hand. While some kids have teddy bears or lovies as their security blanket, Ben has a digger or a toy train.

It has been really fun seeing the progression from two to two-and-a-half. I’m not sure what’s ahead but I bet it will be exciting! One thing I’m most looking forward to is getting Ben started skiing! Introducing him to winter sports will be a major highlight in parenting so far. Stay tuned…

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.