Category Archives: Friends

Mountain Day!

Last weekend Alex and I needed to go out to our mountain house to make some decisions, so we made a day out of it and brought both kids AND had some friends meet us out there.

Just like our last big day trip, we had such a fun time. It’s getting harder and harder to want to leave. We’re so so so so so mentally ready to move into that house and just be there. The anticipation is so exciting and infuriating and we just can’t wait. More to come on the progress of the house.

I was a little nervous about the drive. Our first appointment was at 9:30 a.m. in a town 40 minutes past our mountain house – so, a 2 1/2 hour drive. We made it in the car right on time and the drive was a piece of cake. Ben got super bored eventually but managed to hold it together. Hannah has not been excited about being in her car seat lately but she slept the whole way out there. After our meeting we stopped at Anjou Bakery, which I had been dyyying to go to forever and a day.

The weather was picture-perfect again and after our appointments we set up a picnic and a play/climbing structure and let the kiddos run wild in the yard.

After a while we headed out to Lake Wenatchee for a camp fire and s’mores. It was so beautiful and so cold! We had a blast.

It was so special getting to share our piece of heaven with friends – it was like a preview into what life is going to look like so so soon. We can’t wait to share our mountain home with our family and friends and make a lifetime of memories out there. It’s exactly why we decided to get a house out there.

Camano Island Getaway

Living in the Puget Sound area we are blessed to be a short drive away from some incredible spots, one of which is Camano Island. Some of our best friends, Carrie and Patrick, recently moved up there and invited us to come spend the day with them at their home. It’s also possible we invited ourselves up. I can’t remember. In any case, we spent the day on Camano Island on Saturday and it felt like such a getaway.

Our friends have a fantastic setup – a great open floor plan, perfect for the kids, with a sprawling and private 2+ acre backyard, plus a beautiful and sunny back deck overlooking the yard. They’ve got everything we needed for a kids play day and for the adults to kick back a little bit when we weren’t busy parenting.

{Grass for days! Ben LOVED pushing and riding in Roslyn’s little coupe.}

We loved spending the day up on the island and it was so fun to have Dave, Trish and little Liam up there, too. Liam, Roslyn and Ben were all born within 3.5 months of each other, so now, as 2-year olds {or almost 2!} they’re all moving at pretty much the same pace. I mean, except for Ben because he never slows down, but you get what I mean… The three tots played really well together and it was so fun to see how different their personalities and interests are.

{Liam turned 2 in February.}

{Roslyn just turned two at the end of April. She and Ben are almost exactly a month apart in age.}

{The youngest in the pack…. little Ben turns 2 in 10 days!}

Most of the day was spent at the house; however most of my photos were taken down at the beach, a 15 minute walk from their house. It’s a very rocky beach lined with driftwood and cooooold water with a nice view of Whidbey Island.

{“Dada take my picture!”}

We had such a nice day – wonderful company, a beautiful landscape, delicious food and so many memories! We can’t wait to invite ourselves/be invited back 😉

Girls Weekend!

For the first time since Ben was born {let’s be real, I think it was since Sarah’s bachelorette party FIVE years ago!} I took off for a girls trip. I met my girlfriends from high school back in Minnesota for a weekend up north to catch up and enjoy some girl time.

My weekend away was super quick and entailed not much more than a weekend – I was in super late on Thursday and left on Sunday evening. The time in between was primarily spent up north at my friend Sarah’s parents cabin near Brainard. I managed to squeeze in a very fast morning split between my dad, mom and brother before the girls weekend kicked off.

I’ve been friends with this group of girls since middle school and some of them have been friends since very early elementary school. It is so remarkable that we’ve managed to stay connected through the ups and downs of life; going to college at different schools across several different states; going through various stages of life – marriage, life after college, having kids {I’m working on baby #10 for our group!}, the loss of a parent, divorce, starting our careers, all while living in different areas. All of the other girls still live in Minnesota but are pretty spread out across the Twin Cities.

I really enjoyed getting caught back up with the girls – normally when I’m in town for a visit, our get togethers are only a couple hours long and typically include husbands and/or children, which makes it a little harder for us to dive deep into conversation. We can easily pick back up where we left off though and we never run out of things to talk about.

Our weekend was super low-key and very enjoyable. We mixed in going out for meals with cooking back at the cabin, we did some shopping and played a couple games. Most of all, we relaxed and chatted. I thoroughly enjoyed flying by myself and was so very happy to return to my little family!

Wintertime

This winter has been rather different than I expected. When I pictured the winter I imagined we’d be heading up to the mountains most weekends and spending a lot of time in the snow. I expected the winter to fly by, as it always seems to do for us. Oftentimes the winter months are the busiest of the whole year for Alex and me.

Winter is nearing the end and we’ve hardly been up to the mountains. We’ve gone cross country skiing twice {both times in the rain} and every other time we’ve wanted to go it was raining so we made other plans. It has been an exceptionally rainy January in Seattle so we have been a little cooped up. Thankfully now that we’re into February, the weather has started to turn.

We have been creative this season with getting out and doing things with friends, going to the pool, the zoo or the aquarium, or even embracing the rain and putting Ben’s rain boots on so he can go jump in the puddles. Puddle jumping brings Ben so much joy – and sadly, I don’t have any pictures to memorialize it! We’ve even been creative with our activities at home – Alex filled up the sink with water, bubbles and silicone muffin cup liners and Ben was entertained for quite a while. We’ve been doing art projects, baking and teaching Ben how to vacuum…

Most of our toddler parent friends are also going a little stir crazy, but we all enjoyed some reprieve from the rain this weekend when the sun finally came out! Alex and Ben spent Saturday with three other tots and their dads and enjoyed a tour of a fire station. We met my cousin and his family up at the playground this morning and camped out there, watching the three kids eat sand, play with trucks and giggle their way down the slide.

We are about to start week six with our au pair. It took us quite a while to get into a good rhythm amidst the childcare transition, but I think we’re about there. There ended up being a lot more hands-on training than we had anticipated, and the language barrier is quite prevalent. But! The other day, Ben was counting in Spanish. It was one of the coolest parenting experiences I’ve had yet – he was counting in Spanish. All by himself. I was floored. I still am floored!

All in all, we are having a very memorable winter and we are making the most of these rainy Seattle days with our rambunctious toddler {and looking forward to sunshine in the forecast this week!}.

Fourth Annual Holiday Party

Hosting our holiday party has become quite a fun tradition we look forward to every year. We’ve learned a lot over the last few years and definitely had it dialed in this year. We tried a few new foods and continued our same laid-back approach to the soiree and it was wonderful.

{not our best family photo, but the best of the bunch!}

{not our best family photo, but the best of the bunch!}

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{this year's spread included: a beautiful and bountiful cheese board; crudite platter; chicken skewers; caramelized onion, mushroom and gruyere puffs; brie and apple puffs; Christmas pinwheels;  dips from our local Greek restaurant, paired with their pita; and a big plate of cookies.}

{This year’s spread included: a beautiful and bountiful cheese board; crudite platter; chicken skewers; caramelized onion, mushroom and gruyere puffs; brie and apple puffs; Christmas pinwheels; dips from our local Greek restaurant, paired with their pita; and a big plate of cookies.}

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{Having fun with the "portrait" mode on our new phone!}

{Having fun with the “portrait” mode on our new phone!}

{The chef!}

{The chef!}

{This year's signature drink was Bee Keeper Punch.}

{This year’s signature drink was Bee Keeper Punch.}

{Plenty of bubbly and sparkling rose to go around.}

{Plenty of bubbly and sparkling rose to go around.}

{The Millers arrived a little early to help taste-test :) }

{The Millers arrived a little early to help taste-test 🙂 }

I had so much fun looking back on the last three parties – my oh my how life has changed. We have a really great time putting together these parties and are so grateful to have so many friends in Seattle to enjoy the holidays with.

Third annual party

Second annual party

First annual party

Sixth Annual Octoberfest Trip

Our sixth annual Octoberfest trip has now come and gone. This is a trip that Alex and I look forward to all year long. We take off for a weekend in the mountains outside of Leavenworth with several other families. We relax, drink wine, play adult board games, eat sausage and sauerbraten and enjoy our time in the mountains. This year was extra special because our little ones are all so close in age and they were playing together and were more on the same level now that they’re a bit older than last year.

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Altogether this year there were 8 adults, 5 toddlers and 3 dogs. The tots range in age from 16 months {Ben} to 22 months {August and Oliver}, with Roslyn at 17 months and Liam at 20 months. It’s pretty remarkable that all of our kids are so close in age. The adults in the group are Ryan and Mary, parents of August and Oliver; Dave and Trish, parents of Liam; and Carrie and Patrick, parents of Roslyn.

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The weather this year, like many other years, couldn’t have been more perfect. It was very crisp and clear and made our trip that much better.

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We kicked off the weekend by heading into the town of Leavenworth on Saturday morning for a stroll, some coffee and gingerbread cookies and, of course, sausage. Ben loved the parade that rolled through town and kept neighing at the horses. It was pretty cute!

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On Sunday morning the guys ventured off on their own to take advantage of their Father’s Day gifts — a fly fishing lesson! It sounds like they really enjoyed learning how to fish and I know at least one of them intends on returning and giving it another try.

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While the dads were off fishing the moms packed up the littles and drove to Lake Wenatchee State Park, a few miles up the road. We were most interested in the playground but ended up being captivated by the beach and the breathtaking views that we hardly spent any time on the jungle gym with the kids. Our trip, though, was pretty short lived, as it was extremely windy and very chilly.

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I think we all were really pleasantly surprised about a lot with the kids – they all got along really well and there weren’t any issues and the chaos was extremely minimal. Another big surprise was that they all went to sleep in the evenings very well which allowed for some adult time. The nap times for the kids were sort of well organized, too.

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It was so fun to see the kids playing together and having the opportunity for all of us to engage with the other tots and really get to know them a little better. All of our schedules are so busy and we don’t get together nearly as often as we used to or would like to. These weekends are extra special now that we’ve got kiddos.

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This year we stayed in a different house for Octoberfest than we had in the past. We stayed in the same house that our family rented for Ben’s birthday back in May. Conveniently, this house is located literally right next door to our piece of property. It was really fun being so close to our lot so we could walk over there and check out the view. Alex and I cannot wait to wake up to that!!

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Before heading back to Seattle on Monday, Alex and I, along with the Millers, stopped at Lake Wenatchee State Park. Alex was bummed he missed out on going the day before while he was fishing and wanted to enjoy the view. Luckily for us all, the wind was still and the weather was perfect.

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I’m pretty impressed with our group that we are still taking our annual trip to Leavenworth together. These trips have really changed over the years – it was so fun to look back on photos from last year’s Octoberfest trip, which was the first one where we all had kiddos! If you’re curious – here is the evolution of our trips {I hadn’t started our blog quite yet for our first annual trip}:

Fall Family Fun!

Fall is one of Alex’s and my favorite seasons. I love, love, looooove fall cooking – come August I’m DONE with salads, grilling and light eating and ready to throw on a pot of chili, bake some pumpkin muffins and indulge in rich, hearty dinners. In any case, we’re enjoying the start of fall here in the Pacific Northwest.

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We returned from our Midwest trip, where we had perfect summer weather, to 52 degrees and rain! It was an abrupt end to warm days and we loved it. Since we’ve been back, the weather has been perfectly fallish. We’ve been loving the cooler mornings, cozying up in vests and flannel and hearing Ben run around in the crunchy leaves. Oh fall!

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Last weekend Alex and I left Ben with his nanny and headed to Gig Harbor to attend Ryan and Anne’s wedding. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to. It was over-the-top in an absolutely perfect and sensational way. We were so happy to have been there!

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{cinnamon rolls + coffee the next morning!}

{cinnamon rolls + coffee the next morning!}

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Edina, our nanny, is such a great photographer. She took a ton of fabulous fall photos of Ben recently and I’m dying to share them with you!

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This morning was an absolutely perfect kick-start to our first weekend at home in a while – we headed north to Snohomish and took Ben, along with our friends, to The Farm at Swan’s Trail, a local apple orchard and pumpkin patch. It was awesome!! Alex and I were most excited for apple doughnuts, which were terrific, and we had such a great time.

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{August and Oliver, the twins, are behind Ben}

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Happy fall! 🙂

Fourth of July Weekend

Much to my surprise we had a four day weekend at home together. I had no idea Alex had Monday off until late last week. After having a few busy weekends in a row it was nice to have a low-key weekend just the three of us. The icing on the cake was the weather – it was basically perfect all weekend long.

4th of July

My weekend kicked off a day early – Ben and I had a really fun Friday hanging out in Madison Park, the neighborhood just north of us. It has a much bigger downtown than our neighborhood and it’s got a great beach and a really nice park. Ben and I started at the beach, stopped at the swings and then grabbed a bite to eat at the deli.

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Not surprisingly, Ben loved the beach! He loved playing in the sand and sitting in the water, feeling the waves crash on his little legs. He was all smiles! 🙂

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We had a laid-back day on Saturday and somehow Alex and I managed to make it to yoga at the gym. It was so nice to start the weekend with a relaxing yoga class! Alex took Ben to the pool afterwards, too, so they had some fun in the water together.

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Lately we have been loving taking Ben up to the park in our neighborhood and setting out the picnic blanket and just hanging out. He has been practicing standing on his own and for some reason seems to be more comfortable in the grass. While we were at the park over the weekend he stood up from a seated position all on his own without holding onto anything! Since then we’ve seen him do it several more times but it seems like he’s still realizing that he can do it.

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Since I had so much fun taking Ben to the beach on Friday we decided go together over the weekend too. Ben was practicing standing on the picnic blanket at the beach too and is really getting the hang of it. He had so much fun!

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We made an impromptu trip over the mountains to Leavenworth on Monday. It was super spontaneous and last minute and we had a great time. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky which made for a spectacular drive over the mountain pass. We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful state!

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One of our favorite things to do with Ben is to share foods that we love with him. Thankfully he has similar tastes to us so usually he enjoys them. While we were in Leavenworth we stopped at one of our favorite sausage shops and got some sausages and a pretzel. Since it was 90 degrees and a fun, bonus day we treated ourselves to some gelato before we made the drive back home.

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All weekend long we had been looking forward to our plans for the fourth – we headed up to our friends’ Carrie and Patrick’s new house on Camano Island. Camano Island is located a little over an hour northwest of Seattle and is an island, connected by a bridge, out in Puget Sound. Carrie and Patrick moved into their new house two weeks ago and we couldn’t wait to see their new place.

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Our friends Ryan and Mary joined us up north with their 19 month-old twin boys, August and Oliver, and Carrie and Patrick have a 14 month-old daughter named Roslyn. It was so fun to have all four babies together for the day. We loved Carrie and Patrick’s new house and hope to spend a lot of time up there with all of our kiddos.

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It was sad to see such a nice long weekend come to an end, but we’ve got a short work week and another weekend at home coming up. I love July – it seems like such a nice, relaxing family month. This year anyway!

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Baby Madeline’s Visit

Baby Madeline and her parents, Sarah and Mike, came to visit us this past weekend from Minnesota. It was so fun to have another baby in our house for Ben to play with all weekend long. Both babes did well and really hammed it up for us! Madeline has the sweetest cheesy smile. I couldn’t get enough of it!

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Sarah and I grew up together and have been friends for a very long time. Somehow it happened that we got to go through pregnancy and now the stages of motherhood together – Ben and Madeline were due a day apart last summer.

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Both babies were born before their due dates and are 5 weeks apart. It was really neat to see how different of babies Ben and Madeline are. They are both super sweet and cuddly, and the biggest difference I noticed is that Madeline sits still!

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Alex and I were so shocked at the fact that they could just plop Madeline down anywhere and she’d stay still and take in her surroundings. Even as young as 3 or 4 months, Ben’s little legs and feet or arms would be moving and shaking. He’s really never sat still and always wanted to be moving.

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The weather held out for their trip pretty well, surprisingly. We managed to squeeze in quite a few activities during the long weekend.

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Sarah and I strolled through the arboretum with the babes on Friday while Mike was spending time with his friend. Coincidentally the best man from their wedding also lives in Seattle {I was their matron of honor}. The weather was gorgeous and it made it a perfect afternoon to spend outside.

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The clouds rolled in on Saturday and we headed slightly east to Woodinville for lunch and to do some wine tasting. We tried some new wines and had a great time.

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We ended the evening with a trip to Westland Distillery, a whiskey distillery in the SODO neighborhood. Sarah and Mike {and Alex too} really like whiskey so it was a fun place to stop off.

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The babies did so well on the outing! It was really fun to get out with them and see, at least for Alex and me, how well Ben did on a full-day adventure.

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Our true adventure happened on Sunday. We braved the weather and headed for the mountains to do a hike at Twin Falls. Aside from a few minutes where it was sunny, it was lightly sprinkling throughout most of the hike. That didn’t stop us from lacing up our boots and hitting the trails. It was extremely gorgeous – the hike was fairly easy and followed a roaring river and winded through furry green trees. There were some beautiful views of the falls at the end. It didn’t disappoint.

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After a really nice visit, Sarah, Mike and Madeline headed home on Monday. We loved having them here to play with Ben and to spend time together. We’re grateful for technology so that we can keep each other up-to-date with lots of photos and even FaceTime on occasion.

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Ben + Mama Trip to Minnesota

Ben and I embarked on a trip to Minnesota just the two of us to visit friends and family. It’s hard living so far away and managing to make time for everyone back in my homeland, but I knew it was time to make the trek.

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I knew the trip would be hard but I didn’t really comprehend in what ways it would be challenging. I take care of Ben solo quite a bit – every Monday and Friday I’m his sole caretaker, but five consecutive days and overnights is a little bit different. I was pleasantly surprised that the trip ended up being easier than I had expected.

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Ben had already taken four plane rides by the time we set out for Minnesota. That worked in our favor because we had learned a thing or two about how to be efficient, what to pack and what to expect. I was approaching our plane trips calmly and with the realization that they were an insignificant, but necessary, part of our trip.

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Again, much to my surprise, Ben was a rock star traveler on our way to Minnesota. He took two 30-minute naps, he was engaged in one toy for many, many minutes and was completely chill. Typical Ben is a big wiggler – his little legs are in constant motion and he likes to move from one toy to another. I couldn’t believe it when he was focused on my teething necklace for almost the entire plane ride. As it turned out, I did not need to bring a bag full of 20 different toys!

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Our first full day in Minnesota was forecast to be gorgeous – low 70s and sunny — a perfect day for a stroll around Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis with my friend Sarah and her daughter Madeline.

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Madeline and Ben were due within a day of each other and ended up being born 5 weeks apart. It has been an incredible experience going through my pregnancy and motherhood with my best friend. We exchange probably between 50-100 text messages a day! I was dying to meet Madeline and it was one of the main reasons for my trip.

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I knew before Madeline was born that Sarah was going to be an excellent mama. It was wonderful finally having the opportunity to see her in action. Sweet Madeline is lucky to have Sarah as her mama!

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In addition to our walk around the lake we planned a gathering with our group of girl friends from high school back at Sarah’s house. Another one of our friends had a baby a week after Ben was born – it has been so fun to share the journey with Sarah and Cammy and hear what their girls’ are up to.

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I really enjoyed my time with the girls. The three other girls are mamas to older kids and they were quick to jump in and offer to hold the babies so we could eat or relax. I loved catching up with these girls and so appreciated the time together.

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The rest of my trip was mainly spent with family. Sunday I joined my mom and aunt Sarah at the Como Zoo for the afternoon.

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I think Ben really enjoyed the zoo. He was interested in the giraffes and waved both of his arms and feet with excitement whenever they moved. He didn’t seem to totally get the concept of the zoo, unsurprisingly, though the bigger animals that were awake and moving around were the ones to grab his attention.

 

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Later that day I stopped over to visit my brother and his girlfriend, Becky, at their place and have dinner together. My brother went above and beyond and put together a terrific meal with Ben in mind. In advance, he asked me if Ben had had some specific cuisines because he wanted to prepare something new that Ben hadn’t tried before.

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John prepared vegetable samosas, lentil soup, risotto and roasted vegetables. Everything was delish! I especially liked the risotto and Ben loved the lentil soup. Ben loved crawling around their big, open, carpeted living room too!

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My dad got to spend a lot of time in the mornings with Ben while I was pumping and getting ready. It was so sweet to see the two of them together. Ben almost never falls asleep on anyone during the day but he did three times with my dad! I guess he’s got the magic calming touch.

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One of the activities we did with my dad was go back to the YMCA that I grew up working at. I hadn’t seen it since the facility underwent a massive renovation. I spent 8 years working as a lifeguard, swim instructor and childcare staff at that YMCA and it was really neat to go back and see it thriving. We took Ben for a quick swim in the pool before heading over to my mom’s for dinner.

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My mom and my friend Kelsey have become rather close over the last several years. It’s really nice that they have such a great relationship and my mom can see her “other daughter” more often than her biological one. Kelsey joined us for dinner one night and it was such a treat to see her. Ben was really out of sorts that night so we didn’t get a good chance to catch up or relax much, but I enjoyed the visit, nonetheless.

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I was able to make up for the visit the following morning with some Ben and Mamie cuddles and time together before Ben and I headed to the airport.

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It was really nice to see my family and friends and to see everyone get the opportunity to spend time with Ben. Until he was born I didn’t really consider the grandparent relationship or what it would look like. Alex and I are still honing in on that and working to find a balance that works for all of Ben’s grandparents. Each grandparent is so different and it is hard to meet everyone’s expectations and make sure the grandparents are feeling included and like they get to see Ben enough.

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When it came time to head back to Seattle my dad dropped us off at the airport. I approached this flight the same way as I did our flight out to Minneapolis – with a calm demeanor and whatever happens, happens.

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I also decided to consolidate and put my handbag inside my suitcase so I only had to carry the diaper bag onto the plane. In doing that, I went against advice I normally followed – I took out my extra outfit and the second extra outfit for Ben. Of course that quickly bit me in the bum – when I went in to change Ben’s diaper before we got on the plane I realized that his diaper leaked all over him, me and the baby carrier! We were all soaked! I did what I could to clean us all up and I got Ben into his one and only change of clothes and then we boarded the plane.

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About half of the plane ride heading home was great – Ben was really happy and then fell asleep and was taking a really nice nap. It seemed like something woke him up and he got scared and woke up suddenly and I could tell wasn’t ready to be awake. He was really out of sorts for the rest of the flight and we spent most of it in the galley hanging out with the flight attendants.

{Mid 70s, thunderstorms and snow all in 3 days... only in the Midwest!}

{Mid 70s, thunderstorms and snow all in 3 days… only in the Midwest!}

All in all, I’m really glad I made the trip back. It was empowering to do it by myself and heartwarming see my family and friends with Ben. I’m not in a hurry to solo-parent an infant again for a while, but I’m very pleased with how well the trip went.