Category Archives: Friends

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.

22405416_10101471884713492_1012586636416831099_n

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.

20171008_173546216_iOS

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.

20171009_205608848_iOS

20171009_205610888_iOS

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!

20171007_184238775_iOS

20171007_190728513_iOS

20171007_190750158_iOS

20171007_190926766_iOS

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.

20171008_183918733_iOS

20171008_190309169_iOS

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.

20171008_172231492_iOS

20171008_172802105_iOS

20171008_174747270_iOS

20171008_173845730_iOS

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.

20171008_005219151_iOS

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.

20171006_231308632_iOS

20171006_234142388_iOS

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!!

20171009_181015979_iOS

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.

20171009_185649317_iOS

20171009_185851176_iOS

20171009_191724044_iOS

20171009_192205100_iOS

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.

20170927_012310420_iOS

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!

20170927_004420185_iOS

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!

20170924_003302429_iOS

20170924_000329502_iOS

20170923_230558660_iOS

20170924_010614646_iOS

20170924_000249294_iOS

20170924_005820253_iOS

{cinnamon rolls + coffee the next morning!}

{cinnamon rolls + coffee the next morning!}

20170924_160553918_iOS

20170924_160609943_iOS

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!

20170927_012321691_iOS

20170927_012313592_iOS

20170927_012308268_iOS

20170927_012254599_iOS

20170927_012251729_iOS

20170927_004423389_iOS

20170927_004426515_iOS

20170927_004416963_iOS

20170922_000855066_iOS

20170922_000843659_iOS

20170922_000846604_iOS

20170922_000840419_iOS

20170922_000837516_iOS

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.

20170930_175818443_iOS

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

20170930_174103413_iOS

20170930_164921156_iOS

20170930_175659128_iOS

20170930_175427620_iOS

20170930_163953968_iOS

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.

20170630_182109685_iOS

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! 🙂

Ben_Madison Park

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.

20170630_192556268_iOS

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.

20170702_142826271_iOS

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!

20170702_191748423_iOS

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!

20170703_002451108_iOS

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.

20170704_013604744_iOS

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.

20170704_181905645_iOS

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.

20170704_230348999_iOS

20170704_230134308_iOS

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!

20170701_232215451_iOS

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!

20170429_004844462_iOS

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.

20170501_182519257_iOS

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!

20170428_231734388_iOS

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.

20170428_193212096_iOS

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

20170428_152047958_iOS

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.

20170428_201209759_iOS

20170429_004829414_iOS

20170428_201149491_iOS

20170428_220153042_iOS

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.

20170429_214332875_iOS

20170429_215436688_iOS

20170429_230208378_iOS

20170429_230933907_iOS

20170430_000958571_iOS

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.

20170430_001333921_iOS

20170430_011140880_iOS

20170430_004238760_iOS

20170430_010836627_iOS

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.

20170430_004313812_iOS

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.

20170430_200108469_iOS (2)

20170430_200301950_iOS (3)

20170430_200312389_iOS (2)

20170430_201233556_iOS

20170430_204719773_iOS

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.

20170501_183758994_iOS

20170430_154000948_iOS

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.

20170411_185622761_iOS

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.

20170410_130715004_iOS

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.

20170407_170549559_iOS

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!

20170407_203458264_iOS

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.

20170408_162109845_iOS

20170408_164108805_iOS

20170408_164133543_iOS

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.

20170408_164224697_iOS

20170408_163433586_iOS

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!

20170408_195756286_iOS

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.

20170409_133403000_iOS

20170409_133410000_iOS

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.

20170409_133421000_iOS

20170409_133355000_iOS

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.

20170409_193004947_iOS

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.

 

20170409_201159079_iOS

20170409_201844832_iOS

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.

20170410_002542905_iOS

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!

20170410_155743076_iOS

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.

20170408_130644162_iOS

20170410_192431778_iOS

20170408_020112251_iOS

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.

20170410_212235694_iOS

20170410_212322911_iOS

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.

20170411_152422996_iOS

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.

20170411_152436277_iOS

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.

20170411_185614152_iOS

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.

20170411_193109121_iOS

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.

20170411_202733641_iOS

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.

Birthday Weekend!

I recently celebrated my golden birthday {March 31st} and it was very golden and special, indeed. I waited as long as a person could wait to enjoy my golden birthday and it was surely worth the wait.

Lucky me – my birthday was on a Friday this year. The weather was really nice that day, too, as it often is in the beautiful city of Seattle. We had a relaxing morning at home before Alex headed to work, then I stayed home with Ben that day. One of the fun highlights was taking our new jogging stroller out for a spin!

20170331_230154527_iOS

That night we met our friends Mary and Ryan for dinner at Tilth, a terrific restaurant in Seattle. Their specialty is a five-course tasting menu with wine pairings. We were happy to sign up for that! The food was terrific – our favorites were the sunchoke soup {I know, right?!} and the albacore tuna. Yum!! We have so much fun with Mary and Ryan and it was extra special to have an adults-only birthday celebration {Mary’s birthday is two days before mine} for the two of us.

20170402_015857931_iOS

Saturday was my big birthday hurrah day. Alex and I had our first overnight away from Ben. We went out to Woodinville and stayed in our favorite hotel, Willows Lodge, and enjoyed an afternoon of wine tasting, which led into a fantastic dinner at Barking Frog and an overnight in a beautiful hotel.

20170402_172812863_iOS

Ben did great with his first night at home without us. The nanny kept us up-to-date with some adorable photos throughout the evening.

20170402_021758853_iOS

We finished off our rendezvous with a fabulous breakfast at Barking Frog and then headed home to hang out with our little guy.

20170402_154822131_iOS

It was such a terrific birthday!!

Third Annual Holiday Party

Our third annual holiday party is another one for the books! We are so, so glad we decided to carry out the tradition of hosting a holiday party. For a while we were on the fence – life is a lot more complicated these days with worrying about nap times and feeding schedules of an energetic, squirmy 6-month old. Ultimately, we decided to pick a really easy menu and go from there.

20161218_025150746_ios

As it turned out, this holiday party was both of our favorite yet! There was absolutely no stress going into it – we had the experience of two big parties before and sort of had things dialed in for the most part. Not only did that make it easier now that we’ve got Ben, but it made it more enjoyable and allowed for an event where we felt we could actually spend time with our guests and not worry about anything else.

20161218_024612926_ios

This year we had right around 30 friends {including 2 family members!} over for the evening. I’d say a solid 2/3 of the crew has kids now and we opted to make this an adults-only affair. We got a lot of really positive feedback from both the parents and the non-parents that they appreciated it was a kid-free evening. Ben was home but we had our nanny downstairs watching him. As it turned out, he slept through the whole dang thing!

20161218_025055048_ios

Our food and drink spread was pretty similar to previous years with a few minor tweaks. I really enjoy cooking and putting together food to entertain with. I didn’t really stretch my creativity this year, which was probably a good thing! Some tried and true staples were as far as I went.

Ben’s nanny was a huge help – she baked cookies last week during his nap time! I enjoy baking Christmas cookies but always over-do it, so this year she saved me from that {and may have overdone it herself!}. I managed to still bake gingersnaps, peppermint bark and sugar cookies, while she made the most amazing lintzer cookies {omg you have to make them!}, lemon bars and a lemon polenta cake. She is a far better baker than I am!

20161218_025157817_ios

In addition, I hired a babysitter for the day before the party so I could take the day to get everything organized and prepped. As it turns out, that was a very wise move! The day of the party I put Ben in the baby carrier and had him hang out with me while I got some stuff done. I explained what I was doing and shared with him our holiday party tradition. Alex and I hope to continue this party for many years!

20161217_221641214_ios

One of my favorite parts about our holiday party tradition is bringing our many groups of friends together. Alex and I feel so fortunate to have so many friends in Seattle and we’ve really made this city our home, in part because of the friendships we have here. I was having such a good time on Saturday night that I forgot to take any photos during the party! Oops! I guess there’s always next year…

The Latest Happenings

Life has gotten a lot busier since I’ve been back to work. We are really getting into a groove though and I feel like we’ve got a really good foundational routine that is easy for us to adapt to whether it’s a workday for both Alex and me, a workday for Alex but a “mom” day for me, or if it’s a weekend. It makes our days go much smoother when we all know at least a little bit of what to expect {though with an infant you never really know what’s coming…}

20161023_171747425_ios

20161015_005023308_ios

The biggest thing going on right now is that Ben is teething. Hardcore teething. He’s got a little toothbud right under the surface and judging by the drool and his disposition as of late it’s got to be ready to cut through any day now.

{Apologies in advance if your Christmas card is a picture just like this - this was what Ben looked like from my vantage point in half of our recent photos from our photo shoot. The other half were of him screaming.}

{Apologies in advance if your Christmas card is a picture just like this – this was what Ben looked like from my vantage point in half of our recent photos from our photo shoot. The other half were of him screaming. Note to self: don’t wake a baby from a nap for a photo shoot!}

He’s a trooper and most days it doesn’t bother him too much, but today was an exception to that, it seemed. One positive, though, about him teething is that he’s loving putting his hands and his toys in his mouth and that’s really improving his hand-eye coordination and overall dexterity. He’s been more able to soothe himself in his crib lately.

20161024_174804072_ios

Ben has been enjoying tummy time a lot more over the last 6 weeks or so. He’s holding his head up so high and sturdy. It’s so fun to see the slight improvements he continues to make over time.

20161023_002434190_ios

Still no sign of rolling all the way from back to tummy yet. I’m starting to think this one may take a while. Ben’s favorite position these days is on his side and I don’t think he cares to get from his back to his tummy – he stops on his side and is quite content there! Both Alex and I are positive that he could roll all the way onto his tummy, but it seems like that one may not come for a little while.

20161019_010541393_ios

I’d say over the last two weeks we’ve caught Ben more on his side than his back in his crib – he rolls to his side, finds his hand and sucks his thumb like crazy. It’s adorable. He has become more adept at moving around in his crib and not getting bothered by having his foot hit/poke through the slats in the crib walls like he used to.

20161021_155356899_ios

{Side note: how cozy does he look!? I love these sleep sacks!}

{Side note: how cozy does he look!? I love these Swaddle Designs sleep sacks! They are WAY better than the Halo sleep sacks.}

Last week, kind of by accident, we figured out {by way of the nanny} that Ben is ready for and loves the carrier in the front-facing position so that he can see out. Our carrier can have him face in towards me or out towards the world and it advises you to wait until 5 months to face him out, but we were about 10 days from Ben being 5 months when the nanny tried it out, so I didn’t put up a fight. He’s also getting ready to transition out of the bassinet on his stroller into the seat. He is so interested in his surroundings at any given time that he does not like to be confined!

20161021_191727072_ios

Over the last few weeks Ben has been SO interested in reading. I think he loves the pictures in the books but he also seems to love the intonation in our voice when we read. Some of our favorite books are “The Barnyard Dance”, “Boss Baby” and “Pout Pout Fish” – Ben loves nursery rhymes, as of today, but I’m left wondering who in the world came up with the words!?!?! I got a bunch of seasonal and holiday books for the upcoming holidays/seasons and we’re having fun with those too.

20161024_201151613_ios

Henry and Jackson have been spending a lot of time together lately. Henry has been slowly warming up to Ben and almost seems interested in him at times. Though Jackson gets just as much, if not more, attention as he did before Ben was born he is totally jealous of the fact that Ben gets more attention than he does. Some days he has a hard time not being the center of attention anymore. Even so, he adores Ben and loves being close by.

20161014_204116644_ios

20161015_194037413_ios

20161024_193630611_ios

Speaking of Henry – Ben got to meet his second cousin Henry last week! My cousin Chris and his wife Heidi have an 18 month old son named Henry and they live in Seattle just a few miles away. It took 4 months, but Ben and Henry have finally met now! And soon Ben will have a little girl second cousin too – Henry is going to be a big brother this spring! {Side note: Ben looks WAY more enormous in this picture than reality!!}

20161014_161047240_ios

Life is more and more exciting by the day. Our little Ben is keeping us on our toes and it’s hard to remember the days before he was born – everything seems so normal now.

{Solid foods in about a month!?!?!?!? Gotta get this kiddo used to the high chair!}

{Solid foods in about a month!?!?!?!? Gotta get this kiddo used to the high chair!}

Fifth Annual Leavenworth Trip

One of Alex and my favorite weekends all year is our annual trip to Leavenworth with some of our friends. Each year our trip looks a little different – typically we perfect something we learned the year before. This year’s trip wins for the most changes from last year — babies and a new house to stay in. Before I start, holy cow, it took me 5 hours to pack up the car by myself. It is a whole new life trying to leave town with an infant. Especially one who was adamant that he be carried around all day {and yes, I did put him in the carrier, but that only made it slightly easier to load the car…}.

20160924_235941716_ios

20160924_221149322_ios

This year’s house was the best one yet! The property was fabulous – it had two acres of fenced in yard — perfect for the dogs to run around in. There was a hot tub, several sitting areas and a great fire pit, which we enjoyed making s’mores in.

20160924_223107586_ios

20160924_232617921_ios

Our group of adults was a little smaller this year, but we nearly doubled our group with the addition of four babies – Mary and Ryan and their 10-month old twin boys, August and Oliver, along with Carrie and Patrick and their 5-month old girl, Roslyn, joined us for our trip. Sadly we didn’t get any group photos with all of us!

{The Buffs!}

{The Buffs!}

{The Millers!}

{The Millers!}

This year we also added another day onto the trip – we opted to head back to Seattle on Monday. It has always felt a little rushed to get up there Friday afternoon or evening and then pack up and leave early Sunday morning. It was so much more relaxing to have an extra day.

20160924_175244998_ios

20160925_002437797_ios

The babies all did really well. Oliver and August are on the move now and Roslyn and Ben hung out on the mat together a little bit. It was so fun to see the boys eating real food and be able to entertain themselves. It’s not too long before Ben starts doing that!

20160925_002820690_ios

{Me with Roslyn}

{Me with Roslyn}

{Could I pass for a twin mom!? Definitely not one with as much grace as these boys' mama!}

{Could I pass for a twin mom!? Definitely not one with as much grace as these boys’ mama!}

{Ryan is a pro!}

{Ryan is a pro!}

{Ben and Roslyn hanging out on the mat together.}

{Ben and Roslyn hanging out on the mat together.}

Our weekend was really low-key. We hung out at the house on Friday night and then attempted to head to town on Saturday. Once we entered downtown Leavenworth we realized there was a parade and it turned out to be even busier than the Octoberfest weekends. We planned our trip for September to try and avoid the Octoberfest crowds throughout the month of October. Oops!

20160924_210433721_ios

No worries, though – Patrick came up with a backup plan to go to the Sleeping Lady, which is a little resort that Alex and I have stayed at a couple times. We had a wonderful lunch there and took a little tour of the grounds.

{A bottle for mama and a bottle for Ben!}

{A bottle for mama and a bottle for Ben!}

20160924_210141260_ios

Mary made Sauerbraten, our staple Octoberfest meal, for dinner on Saturday night. We were able to enjoy our evenings relatively kid-free, which was great. All of the babies cooperated pretty well and allowed us to have some adult time.

20160925_004110773_ios

Because of Carrie’s new job {she’s a nurse now!!}, the Buff’s couldn’t stay on Sunday night and had to head back home that morning. Her new schedule is actually really great and allows for her to have weekends free, she just needs to be back on Sunday night. Later that day, the Millers headed into Leavenworth with us, as we figured the crowds would have gone home after the big parade the day before. We had some sausages, pretzels and did a little shopping and wine tasting before retreating back to our little mountain home.

20160924_210509764_ios

20160925_213341077_ios

20160925_213306698_ios

20160925_230309436_ios

20160925_231823359_ios

Our plan for Sunday night was a pizza, PJs and movie party night but only the pizza and PJs ended up happening. We opted for a fire and s’mores plus a dip in the hot tub instead!

20160926_020003428_ios

The last day of our weekends is always a sad and chaotic one. It was SO nice to have had the extra day added onto our trip. It made that 5 hour packing session on Friday that much more worthwhile. We are already counting down until our next Leavenworth trip!

20160926_173247874_ios

Summer Recap

We have had such a fun, memorable summer! I can’t even begin to believe that it’s Labor Day weekend already. Right now we are preparing to have yet another new normal, and this one we are expecting to stick. Our new normal will be our new reality now that Alex is headed back to work on Tuesday and then I’ll follow him two weeks later. While it will be sad to not have so much time at home together, both of us love our jobs and we’re looking forward to a somewhat consistent schedule.

20160822_025457453_iOS

Our summer started with the birth of Benjamin the day after Memorial Day {the unofficial start to summer 😉 } and then Alex went back to work while I spent my days in the NICU. We enjoyed a few summer moments during that time, but mostly were in survival mode.

{33 weeks pregnant here... 2 days before I met Ben!}

{33 weeks pregnant here… 2 days before I met Ben!}

20160531_182842770_iOS

{It's really hard going back through the pictures from when Ben was in the NICU. It is amazing how quickly we forgot about it all...}

{It’s really hard going back through the pictures from when Ben was in the NICU. It is amazing how quickly we forgot about it all…}

Alex’s parents and my mom got to meet Ben soon after he was born.

20160531_224613431_iOS

20160602_200052108_iOS

20160608_222737213_iOS

{This is a perfect photo summing up my days in the NICU, except not all of them were spent with a smile on my face - I sure did try!}

{This is a perfect photo summing up my days in the NICU, except not all of them were spent with a smile on my face – I sure did try!}

Once Ben came home the tables turned {as did the weather!} and we really got to enjoy ourselves again as we adjusted to life with a newborn.

{SO ready to come home!!!!!!!}

{SO ready to come home!!!!!!!}

20160626_163057121_iOS

20160626_160652583_iOS

His first few weeks home we were in absolute bliss – we went for walks every day, we took Ben out to restaurants and wineries and hardly missed a beat!

20160626_202204332_iOS

20160626_230451189_iOS

20160626_192935589_iOS

20160629_183902677_iOS

{Yesterday I tried out one of my baby carriers for our evening walk. It was so cool carrying Ben in this little wrap!}

 

20160709_201728274_iOS

20160715_232613410_iOS

20160718_215847431_iOS

20160720_025758154_iOS

My dad came out to meet Ben in mid-July. We kept things pretty low-key and close to home, but we still managed to get out to Bottlehouse, go for a walk around Seward Park and cruise through the farmer’s market.

20160721_225923846_iOS

Throughout the summer Ben’s development has really started to change and grow. It has been so fun watching him figure things out!

20160724_140133749_iOS

20160726_143429099_iOS

20160804_134500277_iOS

20160801_034103704_iOS

20160825_142141619_iOS

20160628_211120078_iOS

20160829_010320438_iOS

The month of August was spent with Alex’s parents, as well as his sister, who joined us all in mid-August.

20160809_164410000_iOS

20160812_162201078_iOS

20160816_152653202_iOS

20160824_014257424_iOS

We also took a trip to Lake Chelan to close out their visit.

20160823_224713331_iOS

Just last weekend my brother and his girlfriend, Becky, came out to meet Ben and hang out in Seattle. I hadn’t met Becky yet, so it was great to finally get that chance.

20160827_011731782_iOS

20160830_202758436_iOS

20160830_202837475_iOS

Since early July we have been interviewing design/build firms to select one to lead us down a very long road of a major renovation in our house. It has taken a surprising amount of time to research companies, figure out what we want and then meet with them. We’re awaiting our final proposal from one of the companies and then I guess the next step is to choose one {oh, and figure out how we will pay for it!}.

20160829_003633501_iOS

20160829_005749303_iOS

Another summer project that kept us busy was hiring a nanny. After refining our scope we finally found a nanny who we think is a great fit for our family. She’ll be starting the week after Alex goes back to work. I’ll still be off that week but I’ll be able to spend time with her and show her the ropes before I go back the week after. I will be working part-time – about 24 hours per week, mainly spread out over three days, and primarily from home.

20160821_012911309_iOS

We have had such a fabulous summer together as a family and are so grateful for the time and memories we had. Life is going to look a little bit different now with us going back to work, so there will be some major adjustments, certainly, but we are looking forward to getting back to reality!

ben.7.weeks-093