Category Archives: Family

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.

Building the Lodge: Framing Update

While we were camping over the weekend we made a couple trips over to The Lodge to check out how the framing progress was coming. It turns out they’re almost done with framing and it looks absolutely fantastic! It looks like a house, complete with a roof!

It is so cool to see the building process and watch the house come together, literally from nothing. Now that the shell is there and the rooms inside are all framed out we can really start to picture it. I think once they start building the deck it will really give a full picture of what the finished house will look like.

We have been so pleased with our builder and he is moving so fast we can hardly keep up. Thankfully our designer is taking away a lot of the stress of the decision making process. She has been so helpful for us to narrow down our options which saves an enormous amount of time. The style of the house is a mountain/modern feel, which is so contrary to the style I typically gravitate towards. I absolutely love how we’re pulling in unique materials and colors to incorporate both rustic and modern touches.

So far we’ve been focused mostly on exterior decisions – siding, windows, doors, roof, the fireplace and decking. We’re just starting to move inside now and we’re looking at interior window and trim finishes, kitchen cabinet design and layout, plumbing fixtures, doors and electrical. I expected that process to be completely overwhelming and stressful, but so far I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s so fun to see the house come together.

We cannot get over how stunning some of the beams are – like this ridge beam at the roof line. Alex and I will be making another trip out in about a week and a half. I can’t wait to see how much it has changed in that amount of time!

Ben Turns 2 + Maternity Photo Shoot

We have a lot that I wanted to capture on film right now — our sprite young 2-year old and my almost full-term pregnancy, plus, in my opinion {which, for the record, is contrary to that of my husband!} you can never have too many family photos. Our family photographer, Kim, did an outstanding job of freezing time for us so we can look back on some very special moments forever and ever.

I was 33 weeks and 3 days pregnant the day of our photo shoot – exactly one day farther than I ever made it in my pregnancy with Ben, so it was extra sentimental for me to have some mementos from that day.

I get asked all the time about my “heartbeat” necklace – this was a very special gift from Alex in remembrance of the hours upon hours upon hours that we sat in the hospital watching Ben’s heart rate while in utero, then after he was born, watching/listening to the heart rate monitors in the NICU. It’s a very symbolic and special necklace for me and I wear it all the time.

Just like when Ben turned one, the photo shoot took place in our neighborhood. Initially I thought it might be redundant, but it really is the perfect spot to document our lives right now. We absolutely love our neighborhood – seriously, more and more every day – and it captures our life oh so accurately.

Our First Family Camping Trip

I’m not sure if we were crazy or just really optimistic when we booked our camping trip six months ago. In any case, we gave it a shot!

We’ve been to Lake Wenatchee State Park several times and camped here once before. It’s a very family-friendly campground and we chose it in part because of the flushable toilets, running water, showers, proximity to a beach and playground and a few other fun amenities. So, it’s car camping at its finest…

Not long after we got our tent set up the sky opened up and it started to rain. We were not the slightest bit prepared for rain, since there was zero chance of it in the forecast. We quickly huddled under the little overhang of the tent to stay dry and get attacked by mosquitoes! Thankfully the rain didn’t last long and we were able to get a fire and some s’mores going.

Mid-storm my brother and his girlfriend, Becky, arrived! Ben hasn’t seen Uncle John or Becky in nearly a year but seemed to remember them right away and made several requests for Uncle John to pick him up. He really enjoyed spending time with Uncle John and Becky. They were great sports to have spent 24 hours with a toddler.

It turns out it can be rather difficult to get a 2-year old to settle down and go to sleep when there are kids running around, car alarms going off, it’s extremely light out, adults are partying and talking loudly and really when you’re in a new setting. So! Ben fell asleep at about 10:00 p.m., despite our best efforts to get him to cuddle up with us in front of the fire and fall asleep. Once he fell asleep, though, he passed out until 7:15 in the morning, so that was great!

Despite Ben sleeping well {once he fell asleep} neither Alex or I got much sleep. I forgot how uncomfortable air mattresses can be, and it turns out it wasn’t just the preggo who was miserable – Alex had similar complaints. Given the lack of sleep we decided we’d head home a night early. Needless to say, the coffee tasted extra, extra good on Saturday morning.

Side note: how cool are these coffee mugs?! They were a favor at a beautiful wedding we attended last fall.

Milk + camp chair + campfire + super cool Patagonia fleece = happy Ben!

Ben seemed to love all of the time we spent outside on our camping trip. He is such a little explorer and entertainer. We had fun playing in the tent, walking down to the water and playing at the playground. I think we have ourselves a beach baby!

By mid-afternoon on Saturday our campsite was packed up and Ben was snoozing in my lap by the fire {at least we had one success with getting him to fall asleep!}. We decided to run into “town” and grab some coffee from Plain Hardware then go and have a little picnic at our house before going into Leavenworth to show John and Becky around.

Ben was mostly over the idea of sitting still by the time we got out of the car when we arrived in Leavenworth. We managed to have a little time to sit at Cured, our favorite sausage haus, to enjoy a pretzel, bratwurst and beer before we appeased the toddler and went swimming!

Swimming with Ben, in particular at this perfect-for-tots pool, was one of the highlights of my weekend. The pool had a zero-depth entry and a huge section that was 2 feet deep or less. It had a little toddler water slide that was made just for Ben. Ben was wading around in the pool, paddling his arms and jumping up and down – I think he was watching other people swim and trying to figure out how to do it himself! It was so fun to watch.

Before we made the drive home we stopped at the Heidlberger Drive In for some great cheeseburgers and fries. Alex and I love a good diner and this one didn’t disappoint.

All in all, we had a wonderful time on our camping trip. We’re not going to be in a hurry to sleep in a tent again for a few years, I don’t think, but it was such a fun experience to provide for Ben. We are very, very glad we came home after one night, for a number of reasons, but most importantly, Ben ended up coming down with a nasty case of croup on Saturday night/Sunday and we spent the afternoon in urgent care. Poor kiddo was miserable! Hopefully we’re done with the summer illnesses after this one.

The Start of Summer

Here in Seattle we had a nice summery tease back in May. June usually is one of the more annoying months to live in Seattle, though, because the temperature drops back down and the gray skies and drear come back. We usually say that summer in Seattle starts on July 5th, and unsurprisingly, looking at the forecast it looks like that’s going to be the case this year.

Nevertheless, it’s still technically summer! My coffees are iced, I’m sort of in the habit of watering my plants, Ben is stocked up on outdoor toys and shorts, I overbought on sunscreen, our windows are clean, and we’ve got a beach bag constantly packed and ready to go.

We really weren’t sure what this summer would look like, as I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant, so we didn’t want to make too many plans. Normally summer weekends would be filled with regional trips, hiking and lounging at the beach.

We’ve got a bit of that sprinkled into our summer agenda, but let’s just say it’s a good thing we have a great backyard setup for Ben right now.

Ben has been loving touring different playgrounds nearby, having picnics, playing in his “house” in the backyard, swimming in his little pool or splash pad, visiting the zoo and the Bellevue Children’s Museum, and chasing Jackson or dada around the yard.

We are looking forward to our upcoming camping trip, hopefully going to the beach if it ever warms back up, exploring some of the splash parks around the area and taking family bike rides down by the lake.

One of my favorite pastimes during the summer months is sitting on our porch or patio with a nice glass of rose. Wellllll that’s not happening for a while for me. My new drink of choice is a cherry Italian soda! It’s no rose, but it’ll do the trick for now.

Happy summer!!

34 Weeks and Counting!

Since I only made it to 33 weeks and 2 days during my pregnancy with Ben it feels a little surreal to have actually made it to 34 weeks with baby girl. We’re officially in uncharted territory!

{33w3d – one day farther than I got with Ben!}

Last weekend Alex and I took a one-day labor and delivery class since we never made it to that point with Ben and ultimately knew it would end with a c-section. This time around I’m hoping I’ll be able to spontaneously go into labor and avoid a repeat cesarean. Fingers crossed!

We’re a lot more prepared with the labor and delivery basics, as well as what happens after a low-risk delivery. I was surprised to find myself getting emotional thinking about how differently Ben arrived from how the arrival of a new baby was portrayed in the class. Our experience with his arrival was a stark contrast to a “regular” delivery. We missed out on so much and are hoping to have a very different delivery this time around. In any case, though, we know it’s completely out of our hands.

Another preparation we’re working on right now is hiring a birth and postpartum doula to support us through the labor and delivery process, as well as offer lactation and postpartum support once we are home with baby girl.

{32w6d}

We still have a few basic things to do to get ready for her arrival – we’ve got to pull out the infant car seat, wash bottles and pumping parts, buy and set up the pack & play in our room {closet?}, do some freezer cooking/meal prep and finish the “kids” closet in Ben’s room. There’s probably a thousand other little things we’ll realize we forgot we need to do this time around…

Otherwise, all is well here with preggo me and growing baby girl. She’s getting big, therefore I am too! I’m shocked to report that I’m still feeling really, really well these last few weeks – better than the first 30 weeks of my pregnancy. I could do without the heartburn and middle-of-the-night leg cramps, but I’d happily take that over the back pain I had earlier on. In all honesty, all that matters is this baby girl stays healthy and content on the inside for several more weeks and continues to grow and develop. We’re very, very excited to meet her and introduce her to her older brother, but we’re happy to hold off for a little while longer.

Building the Lodge: Framing!

The forecast for the weekend looked pretty chilly and wet. We decided to push potty training back a week {sunshine works better for us} and ultimately do a quick impromptu day trip out to Leavenworth to check out the progress on our house and seek out better weather.

We had a nice Saturday hanging out around our neighborhood and mostly staying dry, then Sunday morning, packed up the car after breakfast and headed towards the mountains. It’s pretty amazing how different the weather can be on one side of the mountains from the other – driving through Stevens Pass it was 39 degrees and pouring with a fresh snowline a bit above us, then as we descended {and nervously checked the weather because we were grossly unprepared for rain} the mountains the rain dried up and the skies cleared. It was a picture-perfect day in Leavenworth.

We scoped out the house, walked around the property and had a perfect picnic in our yard. It was a very memorable day, for sure.

Things over at The Lodge are really taking shape! Since we were there for Ben’s birthday two weeks ago, half of the first floor was framed and most of the second floor {a half story/loft} was framed. They need to frame the two-story great room on the main level and a few more things upstairs on the second level.

We’ve been making tremendous progress over the last few weeks with making decisions. It’s unbelievable the number of decisions we need to make. Thankfully it’s less overwhelming than I expected at this point.

Our builder broke ground and started framing about a month earlier than we expected so I feel like we’re still playing catch up with all of the decisions we need to make. It’s been so fun to see things come together and really start to imagine what the house will look like when it’s done.

The best part, though, is imagining our family and the memories we’ll be able to make at The Lodge.

Ben’s Second Birthday Celebration

For the second year in a row we headed out to Leavenworth for Memorial Day weekend with Ben’s grandparents to celebrate his birthday. It was such a special weekend for us and we’re so grateful that his grandparents were able to join us this year.

The whole weekend was all about Ben! We had a blast celebrating him and enjoying Ben-themed activities.

Just down the block from our house is the fire station and they were hosting a Memorial Day family open house again this year. Ben loved seeing the fire trucks and ambulances and even got to watch a medical helicopter land. Grammy dressed up as a fire fighter and Ben got to sit up in the fire truck.

We had a wonderful time exploring the beach at Lake Wenatchee State Park and shared a picnic and some time walking the beach and playing on the playground. Lake Wenatchee is absolutely stunning!

When we arrived to our rental house, which is conveniently located next door to our property, we couldn’t wait to run over to our lot to check on the construction progress. Framing has begun – they had just finished up framing the basement and were working on the first wall on the main floor. It was so special to see the house being built and get to share that with Ben. Grandpa Fred brought some sunflower seeds for us to plant over on the lot, so we found the perfect spot and will be excited to see them grow this summer.

There were a couple of times we went into town for a change of pace – we had some sausage and pretzels, took a stroll through Leavenworth and got to savor some mid-afternoon treats at the coffee shop.

We opted to celebrate Ben’s birthday on Sunday after Ben’s nap. He opened some really fun presents and we had birthday cake. For dinner, my dad made his famous burgers and potato salad again this year. I ordered the same Bavarian black forest cake for Ben again this year and thankfully he loved and devoured it. He hadn’t really experienced cake last year before his birthday but this year he was a pro.

Ben is very close to outgrowing the pack & play travel crib and made it clear that he was not happy to be sleeping in it while we were traveling. Similarly to when we were in Arizona a couple months ago, Ben woke up in the middle of the night {extremely unusual for him} each night and requested to come in bed with Alex and me. We happily cozied up with him and savored these rare middle-of-the-night cuddles.

Unsurprisingly, the sleeping change resulted in veeerrryyyyy early wakeups in the morning. Holy cow. Alex was nice enough to let me sleep in a bit later while he played with Ben and Jackson. Nap time was all over the place, given the early wake-ups and new environment. After the second day of no naps I decided to lay down and snooze with Ben with the hope that it would result in a longer nap for him. Thankfully it did!

There were so many sweet moments throughout the weekend. One of my favorites was seeing Ben recognize that there was a special celebration just for him – he sang “Happy Birthday to Ben” all weekend long.

Alex and I had the best time exploring the area we’ll soon be calling our second home and seeing Ben experience life out there. We’re so grateful that Ben has grandparents who adore him so much and who he can bond with, despite the distance. It was a very special weekend for us.

Happy 2nd Birthday Ben!

Our little boy is officially TWO! I want to say “I can’t believe it” but really, I can. He’s totally two. And terrific. We have been celebrating his birthday for about the last week – we took a very memorable trip to Leavenworth {post coming soon!} with Ben’s grandparents and we’ve been spoiling him all week long.

It is so remarkable all that Ben has learned, discovered and done in his short little life, and even just in the last year. Alex and I have absolutely loved watching his sweet personality grow and emerge. We adore how curious and inquisitive he is {“what is that?” “did you hear that?” are some of our favorite questions he has been asking lately.}, the natural independence he’s developing and how much of an entertainer he is.

Ben continues to be extremely active and loves to run and climb. He has surprisingly impressive balance – I think he’s got a lot of natural athleticism. Also, he’s going to give me a heart attack real, real soon.

Watching Ben figure out how to walk was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. It was a slow process because he skipped walking and went straight to running. I think it’s easier to master walking first?

Ben started talking around 14 months – by his 15 month checkup he was saying about 15 words. I remember he picked up on the baby sign language really quickly and still uses signs in addition to saying words like “please” and “more” – especially if he really wants something. Today it’s impossible to estimate Ben’s vocabulary, but I think it’s somewhere between 300-500 words and growing exponentially by the day. We just love having conversations with him and listening to him sing songs. It’s adorable knowing what’s going through his mind.

One of the most mementos events of the Ben’s second year was our land acquisition out in Leavenworth. Alex and I absolutely cannot wait to be able to raise our kids having the experience of spending their weekends in the mountains. We are working so hard to make this a reality and it’s so, so fun picturing Ben and his siblings running around on our beautiful property.

We had some really fun family vacations this last year where we got to spend quality time together with Ben – our trips to Seabrook and Vancouver last summer, just before Ben started to walk, and more recently, our trip down to Arizona. Family time is so important to Alex and me and at this point, it’s our number one choice over pretty much anything else. This little boy means the world to us.

Ben has come to love and regularly request steamed milk when we go to the coffee shop. If you know me very well, we go to the coffee shop a lot. Last fall sometime I got Ben his first “steamer” and it slowly became a little thing we do. I can’t help it – it’s just so cute watching him with his special little coffee cup. He loves it, I love it. It’s adorable.

Alex and I feel so very fortunate to have such an incredible park and playground just four blocks from our house. Spending the day up at the park is one of our favorite family activities. It has been an absolute blast to watch Ben grow up at the park and go from only being able to go in the swings at this time last year to graduating to playing with trucks in the sandbox, crawling around the woodchips, practicing walking in the grass, then quickly learning to climb the toddler play structure and go down the slide with help and then one day not long after, learning how to walk up the big kid steps and go down the big slide all by himself.

While we have so much on the horizon this year for our little Benjamin {becoming a big brother, finishing construction in the mountains, starting legit Spanish-immersion preschool, potty training…} it’s so much fun to look back on our memorable year with Ben. Here are some of my favorite photos or moments/memories from Ben’s second year… {Side note: I forgot how bald he was for sooo long!}

Happy birthday, Benjamin!