Category Archives: Family

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!

Grammy & Papa’s Visit

Alex’s parents {also known now as Grammy and Papa} were out here visiting for just shy of two weeks recently. It was so fun having them around – Ben adores them. Stan hadn’t met Hannah yet – safe to say, I think he’s smitten with his first granddaughter.

Their trip coincided with some travel plans our au pair made, so Grammy and Papa were on babysitting duty for a few days during their trip. They enjoyed taking Ben up to the park and playing outside in our yard quite a bit.

Alex and Stan took a day trip out to The Lodge one day early in their stay. They needed to confirm some electrical placements. It sounds like it was a very memorable, special day visiting our mountain house.

We also planned a long weekend out in Leavenworth and stayed right nextdoor to our mountain house in a rental we stay at frequently {wish they’d give us a frequent visitor discount!}. It was a really special time for Ben and Hannah to be with their paternal grandparents. There were lots of Hannah cuddles and goofy, high-energy moments with Ben.

Donna and Stan stayed in an Airbnb house a block from our house in Seattle. It was a very comical experience for them – Donna kept saying someone should write a sitcom about Airbnb experiences gone wrong. The landlord of this house was off her rocker. We had some good laughs and now I know where not to have people stay when they come visit!

While we were staying in Seattle we went out to eat a few times, had a picnic at Madison Park and had some ice cream at Molly Moon’s in our neighborhood. It’s amazing how the times have changed from our before-kids trips to wine country and Bottlehouse with them, now working around nap times and bed times and eating dinner at kid-friendly restaurants at 6 p.m.

We have another round of family visiting coming up shortly! Stay tuned…

Weekend in Leavenworth

Alex’s parents were here for an extended visit to spend time with Ben and Hannah. We were excited to plan a weekend trip to Leavenworth and stay nextdoor to The Lodge so we could marvel at the landscape and the progress on our new vacation house. The weather was really nice and the company was even better.

It was a relaxing long weekend with few activities planned and lots of quality family time spent.

One of the big highlights for me was our trip to the apple orchard. I was so excited to take Ben to his first orchard. He loved picking apples!

Ben picked the apples right off of the tree and even climbed up the ladder to get some high up in the trees.

We ended up with 10 pounds of apples! Now if only I could get Ben to eat them…. I think we’ll make some applesauce this weekend {he’ll eat that!}. I’ve been enjoying the apples all week – they are delicious! I hope we can make an annual trip to an orchard with our kiddos.

After our trip to the orchard we went into Leavenworth to have lunch and walk around. Naturally we ate at Cured, our favorite sausage restaurant.

It’s hard to come into town and not get a sausage! I’m excited to be able to spend longer stretches of time in Leavenworth so we can start exploring more restaurants instead of coming back to the same one over and over again.

We’re starting to really find our favorite spots in town. I found my new favorite coffee shop, we found a free parking lot and we are exploring the different ice cream shops, too! Next time we’re out there we have a new one to try.

Much of our trip was spent at the rental house. Ben loved playing with his grandparents. They got to play with his new toy cars and his pretend house. He ran around, played baseball with Grammy {he’s really getting good at throwing a ball!}, rode his bike and read some books.

Sleep was a very major challenge for all of us while we were away. The first night Ben went right to bed in his little tot cot. He woke up around 11 and wanted to come in bed with Alex and me, which we usually allow when we’re traveling. Somehow he got a very big burst of energy and stayed awake, literally running up and down the room, bouncing on the bed and being extremely rambunctious, until 2:30 when he finally fell asleep.

The next night Hannah was cold and woke up seeeeveral times throughout the night.

Finally, the third night, Alex and I got to sleep, but Jackson had an upset stomach in the middle of the night and kept his grandparents awake for half the night {sorry!!}.

Ben was not interested in napping while we were at the rental house. The first day he fought it for a solid 2 hours before Alex loaded him in the car with his mom and drove to the grocery store 25 minutes away. He circled town while Donna was shopping and in the end Ben got about a 90 minute nap! We strategically planned our apple orchard trip the next day to allow him to snooze in the car on the way there, then I made the drive home extra long to add some nap time for Ben.

It’s so fun to stay nextdoor to our vacation house. I’ll do a separate post about it, but here’s an updated photo!

We ended our trip with a quick and chilly picnic on the shores of Lake Wenatchee. It was SO windy so we ate quickly then let Ben run around on the beach and do a quick stop at the playground before we piled into the car and headed home.

It gets harder and harder to leave our little piece of mountain paradise every time we go out there. We’re starting to feel so connected to the community and we can’t wait to spend even more time there.

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.

Ben + Hannah: Week Three

We’re at the beginning of our third week as parents of two! We are all really adjusting to our new normal – Alex is back at work now and Ben seems to be recognizing all of the changes going on around him. I’m used to the cute little chipmunk noises that wake me up in the middle of the night with a polite request for some milk please. All in all, we’re really settling in to this new life of ours.

Everyone keeps asking how Ben is doing, so I’ll start there. Ben really couldn’t be any sweeter with Hannah – he asks to see her in the morning when he wakes up and wants to be sure to say goodnight to her before bed or nap. It is precious. He gives her hugs and kisses and loves checking in on his baby sister.

In the last few days we’ve had to up the ante on toddler discipline. I’m guessing it’s part due to toddlerhood, part due to all of the changes that have taken place recently. I have a few friends who have kids the exact same age as Ben who have mentioned that there has been a recent increase in whining and the need for more discipline and they don’t have new babies at home. Seems like Ben is just really starting to push the boundaries more and more, which is just a part of being a two-year old!

Last week Ben had another big change – we converted his crib into a toddler bed! He is so excited about the change. He loves getting into his bed and getting cozy with his stuffed animals. So far bedtimes and nap times have been totally normal – he gets into his bed and falls asleep right away. Wake ups have been a little different if he wakes up before his light turns green {signaling it’s ok to be awake}. We told him he can get out of his bed and play quietly with his toys while he waits for the light to turn green.

Smarty pants knows how to turn the light green, soooooo on Sunday morning after I had him go back in his room to wait for the light to turn green, he went back in his room and changed it to green. Naturally. He’s actually been sleeping in a little bit later so we haven’t had too many days yet where he’s woken up before the green light comes on. Stay tuned…

Ben is turning into such a big kid. His agility for a young two-year old is extremely impressive. It is so cool {and terrifying!!} to watch him climb ladders and ropes at the park. He’s been loving riding his bicycle and he’s really getting the hang of it. We have a balance bike for him in lieu of training wheels – he pushes the two-wheeled bicycle with his feet and ultimately it will help teach him how to balance on the two wheels. This is supposed to make the transition to a “two-wheeler” a bit easier. And maybe happen earlier? Not sure on that one…

We’ve been getting out a ton over the last two weeks. It was so fun having Alex home for our first two weeks and now we’re easing into having him be back at work.

{Highly anticipated trip to Bottlehouse for a glass of rose on the patio!!!}

{Alex took Jackson and Ben with him on a run over the weekend – I can’t wait to get back into running, especially after hearing how much Ben loved it!}

{Thursday evenings mean concerts in the park! We brought our own little picnic and enjoyed Ben’s first concert. He was the star of the evening and absolutely loved dancing to the live music. Ben LOVES music!}

{Baby’s first trip to a brewery! We brought Hannah out for a pseudo rehearsal dinner/social hour to celebrate our friends’ wedding.}

{Alex represented the two of us at the actual wedding and I stayed home with the kids – he had a blast catching up with our friends, literally from around the world.}

{Alex pulled the bike trailer out of storage and he and Ben biked down to the beach. This was undoubtedly a highlight of Alex’s 2 weeks off.}

{Ben loved the bike ride too!}

{Beach time!}

{Ben and I had a low-key morning together and baked a fruit crisp! It was so fun getting him involved in baking. Sometimes I forget just how capable he is and how able he is at doing things. We’ve been trying to incorporate him more and more into our daily tasks and giving him responsibilities. He loves being a helper and being involved.}

{Hannah and I have gotten out on some really nice long walks together. It is so wonderful to be able to get back into light exercise.}

So far, our experience with Hannah has been completely incomparable to our first two weeks with Ben. We didn’t have Ben home until he was four weeks old, so that’s a stark contrast. We never experienced the brand new baby things like those initial middle-of-the-night feeds, breastfeeding at all, dealing with the stinky umbilical cord stump, all of the doctors appointments in the first few weeks and just the general experience of having a super newborn baby.

It has been so fun to go through the brand new baby phase with Hannah. She is such a dream. She is eating so well and that has been such a joy for me to experience. She bounced back up and surpassed her birth weight in about 10 days – last Thursday she was 9 ounces over her birth weight already!

Hannah loves being cozy and wrapped up in a snuggly swaddle, though she’s quick to pop her arms out; she seems to enjoy going for walks and loves being in the wrap carrier, which I’ve had her in quite a bit so far. We’ve only given her a few baths so far and she seems to really enjoy them. She’s not a big fan of getting her diaper changed or being in the car when it stops moving.

I know we’re only just over 2 weeks into Hannah’s life, so it’s a little early to tell, but so far she seems suuuuuper chill. She is becoming more and more alert and spending more time awake during the day, which has been so fun. I love seeing her little dark blue eyes open more and more each day. Her appearance has really changed since she was born too – she still has all of her dark hair and the same deep blue eyes and pink skin tone, but I think her face shape is changing and I don’t see as much resemblance to Ben as I did when she first arrived. I’m not really sure who she looks like at this point!

 

Life is definitely different now that Hannah is here. We’re so happy that she arrived when she did and we’re loving our new family dynamic.

 

Our First Week as a Foursome

Baby Hannah is officially a week old! We have been loving our time together this past week. These are the days I wish I could freeze time – or at least have a camera crew follow us around recording this special time for our new family of four.

After Hannah was born our hospital stay was very short-lived. We got discharged about 27 hours after she arrived. Our initial day in the hospital was crazy. Alex got up with the sun, ran home to take Jackson to the park and play ball and be back home before Ben woke up so they could go through Ben’s morning routine together and Alex could explain that his baby sister was born.

Then! Alex brought Ben to the hospital to meet his baby sister. Throughout my whole pregnancy, and especially near the end, what I was most excited for was seeing Ben as a big brother. He has such a sweet, loving and caring personality and I figured he’d nail it. So far, I was right. Ben knew just what to do and it completely melted my heart.

It was really emotional for me leaving Ben when I headed into the hospital because I knew that was the last time I’d see him as an only child. Then when I saw him for the first time in his “World’s Best Big Brother” t-shirt the next morning he looked like a giant. I swear he grew up overnight. He must have been preparing to become a big brother.

Hospitals are no place for super active two-year olds, so Ben’s visit was pretty short. Alex brought him back home to spend the day with Stacey, our au pair, and then came right back to the hospital, just in time for the revolving door of our room to start moving. I swear we had someone in our room every 15 minutes. It was impossible to get a nap in or have a moment to enjoy some cuddles with Hannah.

Later in the day we found out that Hannah’s and my blood types were different – I have a negative blood type and she’s positive – and that they found some of my antibodies in her cord blood. Without going into the nitty gritty of it – this can be a prime setup for jaundice, so we had to stay a couple extra hours to do some blood work and check her bilirubin levels. Poor girl had to get her heel pricked twice because the samples on the first prick clotted. We were getting so nervous that she’d have to stay in the hospital for a few extra days and do photo therapy. Thankfully, per the whole Hannah experience, her levels were totally fine and we got discharged around 9:30 that night. We were waiting on pins and needles for about 5 hours awaiting that news!

Our first night at home with Hannah was so sweet. She was awake a ton – she was cluster feeding a lot in the middle of the night for the first four nights, so we got to have a lot of sweet cuddles and bonding time. I think the cluster feeding helped my milk come in really quickly, too, which is great. Now, nine days in, she mostly eats every 2-3 hours with a good 4-hour stretch overnight.

It was the sweetest thing when we all woke up on Tuesday morning at home together as a family of four. Ben was so excited to see his baby sister at home and wanted nothing but to sit with her and give her hugs and kisses. He was so sweet with her.

Alex is home for two weeks while we adjust to having Hannah and we decided we wanted Ben’s weekdays to be as normal as possible, so Stacey is still on with Ben mostly full-time. We are giving her a break at some point every day to have some one-on-one time with Ben while Hannah is asleep so that he knows he’s still special. I had so much fun playing in our backyard water park one day with him and Alex took him on a super fun outing to REI another day, which he won’t stop talking about!

We spent every morning last week in the doctor’s office checking in on Hannah’s {non-existent} jaundice. The doctors wanted to keep a very close eye on her skin and eye color and her weight. I keep saying I think Hannah looks like a little peach – her skin is such a beautiful pink and she’s got little baby fuzz all over still. No sign of jaundice! Hannah only lost 6% of her body weight, which is great, and by Friday of last week {five days after birth} she was back up to 6 pounds 8 ounces {her birth weight was 6 pounds 11 ounces}. She got the all-clear on Friday and we were discharged into the world! We’ll be back at the doctor at the end of this week for Hannah’s 2-week checkup.

Last week I swear Ben’s growth and maturity skyrocketed. He looks gigantic, feels super heavy and is becoming such a big kid. He started wearing underwear, singing the days of the week and he climbed out of his crib and opened the door to his room. It was a big week for him! Needless to say, a big boy bed is on its way. He’s been nailing it with potty training – a lot of people warned us about regression, but he’s actually made very noticeable progressions in the last week. We are so proud of that little boy!

Hannah is an absolute dream – she is so calm and content. It’s been fun the last few days to see her little eyes be open more and more throughout the day. Her umbilical cord stump came off over the weekend so now we can start tummy time. I think it will be really neat for Ben to be able to interact with her while she’s hanging out on her belly. Hannah is eating and sleeping really well and loves being all cozily swaddled or snuggled up in someone’s arms.

Alex and I have been commenting on an almost daily basis how different the experience with Hannah has been from our experience with Ben. The delivery was completely different {birth story coming soon!} and bringing home a one-day old baby, versus a 26-day old baby was so, so different. We missed out on the initial first few weeks with Ben and are so enjoying the experience with Hannah. The middle-of-the-night cluster feeds, frequent trips to the doctor and all of the cuddles and love have been so meaningful for us and we’re so grateful to have our sweet girl at home with us.

My recovery has been a breeze. Right after Hannah came out I instantly felt like a normal person again. No heartburn {!!!!!!!!!!!} and I just felt not pregnant. Really, it was instant. I was bed-bound for a few hours waiting for the epidural to wear off and be able to feel my legs again, but otherwise, it’s been a walk in the park, especially compared to a c-section. I’ve been choosing my chairs wisely, as it’s been uncomfortable to sit on hard chairs, but thankfully by day four that’s been really manageable. We’ve been getting out for long walks pretty much every day and it’s just the best!

So far our time as a family of four has been filled with joy and an abundance of love for our new dynamic and our new addition. Hannah has provided a calming presence and our hearts are just overflowing when we see how much Ben loves his baby sister already. We are so, so happy.

Baby Hannah is Here!

Our sweet girl, Hannah Maxine, arrived yesterday on July 22nd. She was so ready to be born she arrived two and a half weeks early. She’s absolutely perfect and we’re smitten. We are adjusting to life at home with two kiddos and I think we’re going to love being a family of four!

I’ll post Hannah’s birth story shortly!

A Family of Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was perfect.

Nesting

During my pregnancy with Ben I really didn’t get to “nest” much at all – it was more of a mad scramble once we realized things were going to get crazy. Once he was born, but still in the NICU, I managed to find a little extra time to do some meal prep for after he came home, but otherwise, his nursery was finished without me while I was stuck in the hospital.

Honestly, I really didn’t expect to make it to 36 weeks with baby girl, but at the same time, I wanted to wait until 36 weeks to do things like pack my hospital bag, buy the last few things for her, install the car seat and pull out the baby bottles. So – we made it and now I can happily start “nesting” a bit more.

Baby girl will sleep in Alex’s/my room in a pack & play for as long as we can make it work, then she’ll move in with her big brother. We’re trying to figure out when a good time to transition Ben out of his crib might be… I have a feeling that is soon on the horizon! I really have been feeling badly about taking away his independence by confining him to a crib. Stay tuned!

We mostly finished off the “kids” closet and figured out storage solutions in Ben’s/the kids’ room. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out – everything fits somehow and it doesn’t seem overly crowded yet. I’m sure we’ll get there soon after she’s born, though.

You’re not going to find this closet on Pinterest, but it works for us for now. Though I will admit I can hardly squeeze in there right now with my giant belly.

I love, love, love these little mountain hooks I found on Etsy.

I got some over-the-door storage which has been SO helpful – Ben only has a few pairs of shoes and even as itty bitty as they are, they still take up a lot of space, so now they get to hang out on the back of the door.

I also found some big pocket storage for behind the door to keep things like baby wipes, Ben’s art supplies and swim diapers. These have been a HUGE help in the storage department.

Baby girl is more than set on clothes and blankets and by golly she’s got her brother to thank for a whole slew of fun baby toys. I’m waiting to see if any of our last minute bigger items are going to be on sale on Prime Day and, naturally, I found a few tons of great things at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Otherwise, in terms of tangible things, I think we’re about ready!

A few things I would still like to do are:

  • Go through Ben’s toys – I really don’t feel like he has that many toys {we try to be really conscious of this} but they take up so. much. space. And it’s space that we don’t have. I think I’ll start a box to take to The Lodge…
  • Go through Ben’s books. Omg. He has so many books. Reading with Ben is basically the best thing ever, and if I’m going to over-buy on something, I’m okay with that being books. But – I need to pare down the books we have out at any given time and add these to “The Lodge Box.”
  • Wash bottles, get them organized. Hopefully baby girl will only need to take the occasional bottle, but you never know. It’s a super, super bummer I’m unable to freeze my milk, so I’ll be curious to see how everything unfolds in the beginning.
  • Clean out the freezer and get it ready for extra meals.
  • Meal/food prep!!!

My food prep list includes:

I’ll probably sign up for a prepared meal service for a few days a week during the beginning just to take the stress out of cooking. We had some friends who generously gifted us a Maven gift card when Ben was born and I’ll probably mix and match that with Munchery, which I’ve never tried before. I remember loving having Whole Foods’ quiches {SO GOOD!} on hand and making a whole bunch of oatmeal in the early days. It’s nice to have easy-to-grab food since I’m expecting to be ravenous for a while.

Things are coming together for this baby girl! Alex and I are enjoying our last days as a family of three, {trying to} get some extra sleep in and imagining how dramatically our lives are about to change. We are getting so excited to meet this baby girl and see Ben become a big brother.