Category Archives: Life

Building the Lodge: The Home Stretch

I had the rare opportunity to go out to the lodge by myself last week. We needed to bring a bunch of light fixtures out so I stepped up to the plate and delivered them safely. Not only was I happy to get rid of part of the gigantic stack of boxes in the dining room, I could hardly wait to see the house.

With just one week left until our furniture starts arriving at The Lodge there is a lot that still needs to get done. All of the finishing touches need to be wrapped up and completed. Our fingers are crossed that things will come together at the 11th hour and we’ll be able to get moved in.

It feels like a circus right now with all of the coordinating and the logistics happening. It’s a funny game of logistics and coordination trying to figure out when to order certain things and finalizing the details on what seems to be a hundred million little pieces.

Everything is coming together really nicely, albeit a bit slower than we had hoped. The colors and materials in the house look incredible. I love how everything goes so well together. I love how the kitchen hardware looks.

When I arrived at the house I was pleasantly surprised that the counters were being installed. We have the same quartz slabs in all 3 bathrooms as we do in the kitchen.

There were so many people working that day that I tried to get in, drop the lights off, and go so that they could focus on their work.

The painters were there doing touch up work and finishing painting the trim. We decided to paint the trim around the windows the same color as the walls and I love how it turned out. Before the trim had been painted at all {it came white} we thought there was too much contrast between the trim, the wall color and the black windows so we opted to minimize that by keeping the color consistent with the wall.

I couldn’t get over the richness and depth of the wood color of our interior doors. They are knotty alder. The painters applied a clear {or mostly clear?} coat over the doors and they are stunning. The doors are one of my favorite parts of the house, though it’s really hard to play favorites.

Another new thing I got to see in person for the first time is our “boot bench” in the front entry. I can’t wait to organize this! We found some really beautiful hooks that will be mounted in the big open part, otherwise I’ll be on the hunt for a bunch of baskets to have to store our outdoor gear in the little cubbies. Opposite from the boot bench we have a big closet with plenty of coat storage, as well as a long shelf for more baskets or containers for, you guessed it, more gear. I knew that year-round gear storage would be really important to us so this space was a big part of the planning process.

The last thing I got to see taking shape was the pantry! I’m so excited to have a walk-in pantry – and one that’s not cavernous like my current pantry. This will come in so handy for a vacation home. I can’t wait to stock up on pantry supplies. I am so looking forward to cooking and baking up here with my kiddos while watching the snow fall out the windows, and I can speak for my mother in-law and say I know that she is excited for that too.

My visit at the house was so quick and I wasn’t ready to leave the area so I popped into town {the little village is called Plain – it’s about a 1-2 minute drive from our house} and grabbed lunch at The Old Mill. I swung through Plain Hardware for a coffee to take with me for my drive back and then made a quick stop at Lake Wenatchee just to take in the view. It was such a gorgeous day and I really wanted to stay in the mountains.

All in all, the house is coming together and so much is happening this week. Though the house won’t be 100% complete, Alex is planning two U-haul trips out there this weekend to clear out all of the boxes from my office {omg.}. The following week we’re planning on officially moving in and Alex’s parents will be out there enjoying the house with us. I’m headed out for the week of President’s Day with the kids and my dad since school is out. If all goes according to plan, the house should be complete, save for a shower door and some light fixtures, by February 10th.

We are SO close it is just tantalizing right now. It’s been so far away for so long that now that it’s almost here it’s almost hard to believe.

Toddler Skiing Adventures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hannah is Six Months Old!

Sweet Hannah Max has been with our family for half a year now and it feels like she’s always been here. Hannah continues to be an absolute delight. Her smile brightens up anyone who looks at her. I get so many compliments when I’m out with her about how happy she is.

Hannah’s stats:

  • Weight: 17 pounds 15 ounces {80th percentile}
  • Length: 26.1″ {60th percentile}
  • Clothing size: 6-12 months
  • Number of teeth: 0
  • Eye color: still blue!

As a six-month old Hannah is mostly still sleeping through the night and takes about 3 naps per day. Usually two cat naps and a longer snooze. Her schedule is somewhat predictable and driven by a combination of the day and Hannah – for the most part she goes with the flow.

We’ve had a tremendous amount of change in the last month or so and Hannah has dealt with it okay. I’ve noticed that she has been rather opposed to spending the day, or really any amount of time, with a stranger or any new person. She had a rather lengthy adjustment period when Anna, our new au pair, arrived.

In the last month we started introducing solid foods to Hannah. It has been so much fun watching her get used to the idea of eating foods and seeing the look on her face when she tries something new. So far, we haven’t found anything she doesn’t like.

We knew Hannah was ready for solid foods a while ago when she’d start reaching out and grabbing the food on my plate and bringing it to her mouth. She’s been so curious about the concept of eating for quite some time.

I’ve had a very laid-back and stress-free approach to feeding Hannah. At this point my goal is merely to get her used to the idea of eating. A few foods we’ve tried with her include: bananas {her first food!}, avocado, sweet potato, cucumber, red pepper, pear, yogurt, cheese and oatmeal. Over the weekend we checked “peanuts” off the list. Fingers crossed for no allergies!

Just a few days ago we made the call to say that Hannah is officially sitting up! She loves being able to have a different outlook on her surroundings. I think she really enjoys watching her big brother play nearby, too.

Hannah is SO CHATTY! She’ll interrupt a conversation or dinner to tell us a story or just start talking out of nowhere. She loves being included in what’s going on. Once she has the words I have a feeling she’s going to figure out how to use them rather quickly! Right now she just sounds like a typical 6-month old baby: a pterodactyl!

Ben is still pretty much the only one who can get a laugh out of Hannah. It is really sweet. Usually Hannah cracks up at Ben being a goofball – sometimes Alex will involve Hannah in Ben’s evening rumpus and she loves it.

Another fun milestone for Hannah in the last month is that she’s been able to ride in the stroller seat and the shopping cart. I have really enjoyed this as a way to interact with her a little more.

Our sweet Hannah girl is all smiles these days. She is the happiest, most content baby I know.

#Momlife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building the Lodge: Floors, Cabinets, Oh My!

It had been three solid weeks since Alex and I had seen The Lodge and boy did a lot happen in that time! We are SO close to completion.

There have been two crews in our house working furiously to finish up the interior. So many large and small details have been going on like installing the cabinets and built-ins, laying the hardwood floors, grouting tile, hanging doors, painting and installing trim, and the list goes on… take a look!

{Walking up the steps to the main floor – the refrigerator will be encased in the wood cabinetry seen at the top. The wood on the cabinet will be seen in random spots in the house. It’s a special process using vinegar and red wine rather than stain that creates a rustic gray look.}

{Hello kitchen cabinets! We will have a big vent hood above the range and a series of 3 open shelves on the walls above the kitchen counters. The corner shelf will help anchor some of the shelves so we can stack heavier items.}

{Kitchen island – we’ll have our microwave in the shelf here. I’m looking forward to having more drawers in the kitchen to use.}

{I hadn’t heard of toe kick cabinets before – these will be perfect for sheet pans, muffin tins and cooling racks and I won’t have to use a whole vertical shelf to store them. Win!}

{The hardwood floors are stunnnnnningggg! We went with a #2 knotty white oak floor with 5″ wide boards throughout the main level of the house. The bathrooms/entry/laundry will be tile, the basement and the loft/second floor will be carpet.}

{The pantry! I can’t get over how gorgeous the interior doors are.}

{The tile in the master bathroom looks slightly different and less trippy in person – I wasn’t able to capture it perfectly on my phone. We LOVED it in person. I also can’t get over how beautiful all of the bathroom vanities are.}

{Penny tiles in the master shower! They’re not grouted yet.}

{Still some work to do in here, as you can see. We also marked locations for towel bars/hooks, toilet paper holders, and the like.}

{Basement bathroom is coming along too.}

{The cedar ceilings are DONE! They’re absolutely breathtaking. They add another dimension to the house and help bring in a rustic, mountain vibe we wanted to make sure to incorporate.}

{Our first “fun” light fixture has been installed. It fits the house so well and we love the rustic elements it brings. It’s not hung at the proper height – it’ll come down about 10 feet.}

{I was so opposed to bi-fold doors, really in any context, but LOOK at these doors! The tracks they slide on are solid too. I’m converted!}

{I have so much admiration for craftsmen. One of my favorite parts of the home building process has been our frequent trips to the wood shop where all of our cabinets and built-ins and some of our furniture are being constructed. I appreciate so very much that these pieces are handcrafted just 2 miles from our house.}

{The basement! I can’t believe how bright it is down here, despite the lack of windows in the main room. This will be kid hangout zone. Phase two will include a bar!}

{We’re having custom metal railings with horizontal cable wires installed here on the landing, on the loft and outside on the deck. Peering down over the ledge is the front entry closet and we’ll have a built-in bench with cubbies and some hooks on the other side of the door.}

We’ve been busily ordering things for the house like bedding linens, big furniture pieces, accent furniture, lighting and the like. We haven’t pulled the trigger on housewares, like kitchen tools, yet, but that’ll come soon enough.

{Checking out some of the fabric samples.}

There were such great sales around the holidays that we decided to take the plunge and order the furniture. We have almost everything that we’re planning on ordering initially at this point.There are a few things we’ve decided to wait on until we’re in the space to see how it all feels and how we use it.

{My office at our house in Seattle has been overtaken by all of the boxes of things we’ve ordered.}

I’m not quite sure how the move-in process will look at this point. Our first furniture delivery is scheduled for February 4th, so hopefully we can get in by then. We can hardly wait!

Christmas 2018

This holiday season was extra special. We made so many memories and had new experiences, started new traditions and enjoyed time as a family.

Alex’s family flew out from Illinois to join us for Christmas at Suncadia Resort in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. We rented a beautiful house tucked into the snow-covered evergreens and made ourselves right at home for the week of Christmas.

Our days were spent cross country skiing, ice skating, playing with two-two-year old boys, eating, singing “The Wheels on the Bus,” making snowballs,moderating sharing of the toy guitars, downhill skiing and catching up. We were able to cross country ski out the back door of the house and that was so gratifying for me – there were a couple days where I strapped a kid to my back or hooked myself up to the ski trailer and just took off for the forest.

We also celebrated the second birthday of our nephew, Nico, on Christmas Eve. Alina put together an adorable “Wheels on the Bus” themed party for him. Both Ben and Nico love buses and the song “Wheels on the Bus” and it was perfect for a two-year old.

Hannah enjoyed cuddle time with her extended family, too, and Nico showed quite an interest in her. He is super sweet! Hannah also got plenty of floor time to practice sitting up – her newest skill she’s working on.

We’re already looking ahead to the holiday season of 2019 where we can spend it out at The Lodge and begin even more new traditions with our family. It’s so magical to be in the snow and the mountains during the holidays. Happy New Year!

2018 Recap…A Year in Review

The theme of 2018 for our family has been “change.” We had one big change after another all year long and they’re still coming at us hard. While it’s been overwhelming at times, we’ve weathered the changes just fine and have had such a special year. This is also the year we really felt like we were a real deal family now that we have two kids.

The year started out with the loathsome first trimester of my pregnancy with Hannah in combination with the arrival of our au pair, who didn’t end up working out. During this time Alex was interviewing for a new job, a process that is grueling to say the least. I had almost daily migraines because I was so stressed out about our undesirable childcare situation.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the first portion of 2018, other than the challenges that went along with it.

The sun came out for us, both literally and figuratively, when we took a much needed family-of-three vacation to Arizona. It was undeniably a highlight of the year. We loved taking Ben swimming and watching the pure joy on his face when he’d jump in the pool over and over and over. He ate a 1/2 pound hot dog all on his own and shared a {virgin} strawberry daquiri with me. Just after we returned from Arizona, Alex started his new job and we switched au pairs.

Throughout the winter and spring Ben continued to go to his co-op preschool, which we all loved. We made wonderful friends from the preschool and I felt a comforting sense of community. It’s always nice to bump into friends from the co-op around town or at the park.

We spent the winter designing our mountain house in Leavenworth and broke ground ahead of schedule in April. The process has overall been wonderful. We are so pleased with our builder and the trades who have been building the house. We’ve taken as many trips out to the Lodge as we possibly can this year.

Ben turned two at the end of May and we invited his grandparents out to Leavenworth. It was fun to stay next door to our house and get to see the framing start to take shape.

Toddlerhood was another theme of our 2018. Alex and I have taken the positivity approach in parenting our toddler. While it is unbelievably challenging at times it is SO much fun. We love two! We are so enamored every day by the things that come out of our two-year old’s mouth, the associations he makes, how quickly he figures things out and his unbelievable vocabulary and ability to have a conversation. Raising a child from birth is undeniably the most magnificent learning opportunity.

The start of summer was also a bit of a blur for me. I was super pregnant and rather uncomfortable {as I was for most of the pregnancy} and trying to wrap up all of my work before the baby arrived.

As a birthday gift, Ben received some outdoor toys for our backyard and we loved watching him play independently outside at home, which was new for us. Every time he played outside in our postage stamp backyard in Seattle we’d envision him running and playing on our 3-acre property out in the mountains.

Soon after Ben’s second birthday we embarked on the unexpectedly long journey that is potty training. The latest rage with potty training books tells you that miraculously, even if you have a boy, he’ll magically be potty trained in three days with eight easy steps! So not the case! Why does everyone rave about this!? {They all have girls, that is why.} We’re very close to calling Ben potty trained during the day, but it’s been a life altering work in progress for the last seven months.

We managed to make several trips out to The Lodge over the summer, including one camping trip. My brother and his girlfriend came out to the Pacific Northwest/British Columbia and ended up meeting us out at Lake Wenatchee State Park to come camping with us. I have delightful memories from this two-night trip turned one-night; however it was extremely challenging going camping with a very active two-year old and being pregnant. While it was so, so wonderful I’m not in a hurry to do it again.

Hannah arrived just two weeks after our camping trip. It had been an extraordinarily busy week – I helped put on my organization’s annual golf tournament on Thursday, then Alex and I had an exhausting all afternoon affair at The Lodge with our electrician, and Saturday I spent nesting, thankfully, before my water broke that night while Alex was at a bachelor party.

Truly from the moment she was born she brought a calming sense to our family. Alex and I were overjoyed to meet our baby girl. It felt like Ben grew up overnight when Hannah was born. He had been promoted to big brother and knew just what to do. Some of my favorite moments from the year are the sweet sibling moments that I often witness. Ben and Hannah adore each other. While Ben occasionally gets jealous of Hannah’s attention he innately knows not to take it out on her. Instead, he’ll ask us to put Hannah down so he can have our attention instead. Lately, five months in, Ben is darn near the only person who can make Hannah giggle. She is already looking up to her big brother.

My maternity leave was a blessing in so many ways. My time with Hannah was so precious. I loved our daily walks and getting out and showing off my sweet baby girl. Hannah has been a dream of a baby and we are smitten.

All four of Ben and Hannah’s grandparents came out to meet their first granddaughter during my maternity leave.

I ended up spending several weeks of my maternity leave sorting through the profiles of hundreds of au pairs from around the world. Just four days before Hannah was born, Stacey, our au pair at the time, told us that she was, in fact, not going to stay on with our family another year. She had gone back and forth on extending her time with us for a while so it didn’t come as a complete shock. Stacey finished out her contract with us and went back to England in late November. Finding a new au pair was a time consuming, competitive and overwhelming process and in the end, we decided to contract with Stacey’s cousin, Anna, as our next au pair. She just arrived from England at the end of December.

In the midst of my maternity leave, Ben started Spanish immersion preschool at a spot near our house. We were delighted to be able to have him immersed in Spanish language from the early age of two. Unfortunately the school didn’t end up working out for us. I quickly scrambled and pulled together a backup plan.

In early October Ben started preschool for the second time – his Monday through Thursday is split between the same co-op he was at the previous school year and a different preschool. He was instantly comfortable and fell right back into his groove at the co-op with his old teacher.

Alex and I have loved the emotion coaching he has received, the music classes that enrich his school day and the time he’s spending away from his family as he’s getting closer and closer to kindergarten. He is developing so rapidly and comes home with new vocabulary and has really started to talk about and regulate his feelings.

Throughout the course of the summer and fall Alex and I made numerous trips out to The Lodge to make decisions or see the progress of our house. Occasionally we brought both kids with us and made a day out of it. We have so many wonderful memories from some of those day trips and we are all the more excited for our house to be finished just after the new year.

One of the on-going themes of our year has been a challenge with childcare. This was exacerbated during the holiday season as we said good bye to our second au pair, Stacey, and had a three-week lapse before Anna, our brand new au pair arrived a couple days ago. I got to play “stay-at-home-mom” for a few weeks and enjoyed a lot of quality time with the kiddos.

The holiday season this year was extra special with our little ones. Ben seemed to mostly understand the concept of Santa. Our Christmas holiday was spent in the snowy mountains surrounded by Alex’s family. We made so many new memories this season.

We are closing out 2018 together as a family of four plus our new au pair, Anna. Alex and I are giddy with anticipation and can hardly wait to move into our mountain house. We have no idea how it will change our lives this year and forever – we just know it will. Cheers to bidding adieu to a busy, chaotic and mementos 2018 and welcoming 2019 – a year I hope brings so much time with family and friends and making new memories and traditions.

Looking back…

2017

2016

2015

2014 

Building the Lodge: Interior Finishes Starting

At the beginning of Alex’s parents’ recent visit to Seattle we headed out for a quick day trip to The Lodge so they could check out the progress. While we had expected more to have been completed we were floored at how well The Lodge looked. It’s really starting to come together and some of the interior finishes are nearing completion.

For me, one of my favorite parts of the state of the house was looking down the hallway in the basement, where all the doors were hung, seeing a partially complete space. It really enabled me to picture what the house will look like when it’s all done.

And the doors! They took my breath away when I walked down the stairs. I didn’t imagine they would be nearly as stunning as they are in person. We chose a knotty Alder door.

A close second was the cedar ceiling! And the fireplace! I’m pretty sure they were wrapping up the ceiling the day we were there and the fireplace had already been completed. It is stunning. I can’t wait to sit on the sofa in front of a roaring fire watching the snow falling out the windows.

While we were out visiting the house we stopped by our cabinet makers wood shop. It’s always a treat to go there and we usually end up getting a sneak peek at something – this time it was our cabinets!

{This is the cabinet above the fridge. We are only doing two closed in upper cabinets – the rest will be open shelving.}

The purpose of our trip to the shop was to select the wood species for our dining room table and sideboard, which we did, and it was really fun to have the opportunity to see some of the cabinets before they got installed, which they now have been.

{Northwest Wild Cherry cabinets for our bathrooms – the wood is exquisite!}

The tile is getting close to being finished too! Most rooms have been completely tiled, except for the master bathroom. There is no grout and there are no curbs or shelves in yet.

{Basement bathroom}

{Main floor bathroom}

{Laundry room. The floor tile is the same as the basement bathroom and the front entry way. It reminded us of crushed stone and we absolutely love it.}

We’re getting so, so, so close. We’ve ordered quite a bit of furniture and are starting to really pull together the final details. Just another month to go!

Life These Days

Crazy has a whole new meaning to me right now. Alex’s and my plates are overflowing, it feels, with all that we have going on. I’m very, very thankful for the time between when the kids go to bed and when Alex and I go to bed so we can feel like we’re able to accomplish something during the day.

Our backup childcare plans didn’t work out for much of the lapse in childcare we had from our last au pair to when our new one arrives.

With no notice I dove head first into my new temporary role as a stay-at-home mom. We’ve enjoyed fun outings to the zoo, the children’s museum, a fun new bookstore, local toddler gyms and parks. Hannah got to test the waters of Ben’s co-op preschool {I’d love to send her there next year!}.

I also enjoyed a lot of down time with the kids at home. Since it’s getting dark out so early these days we were home by 4 or so most days. I put together some craft projects and some fun toddler activities, like turning a shoe box into a fine motor skills practice opportunity for Ben {he had to match the color of a pom pom to the color of a small hole then push the pom pom through – hello matching and fine motor skills!}.

Since I don’t have childcare, Hannah has been coming with me to my weekly Pilates lesson {luckily it happens to coincide with a time when Ben is at school}. Roxanne, my instructor, mentioned several times that Hannah just watches me and tries to mirror my moves. It’s been really sweet having her there. I wish I could bring her everywhere!

For the last 3 months I’ve been going to a weekly moms group called PEPS {Program for Early Parent Support}. It’s a group of local moms who just had their second child. We have a facilitator who leads our discussions on various parenting topics each week and we share our highs and lows, as well as learn something developmentally appropriate about our babies. I have come to really adore the group and look forward to my time with the other moms and babies. It’s been such a wonderful way to continue to boost our village and establish what I expect to be long-lasting friendships.

{Hannah is second from the right}

{Hannah won the award for “Most Sylish Baby” and “Most Likely to be a Movie Star”}

Poor sweet Ben was sick all of last week. He had a terrible cough. He needed lots of extra snuggles and love and enjoyed a lot of time on the couch with his friends Daniel Tiger and Peppa Pig.

Amidst the chaos it’s the holiday season. And we happen to be building a house and getting very near the finish line. And I also still have a job, which I’ve been trying to during spare moments. Somehow we’re managing just fine. It’s a little crazy, but Alex and I kind of like crazy. This is the season we’ve chosen for ourselves and I wouldn’t change it for anything.  I’m not going to get this time back and I’m sure enjoying these extra special moments.

Tis the Season!

We’ve been busy decking our halls, waiting patiently for Santa and decorating cookies and gingerbread houses galore. The Christmas season is SO much fun with a two year old who is just now at the age where he can truly grasp the concept and all of the activities that come along with.

The holiday season started with a really nice Thanksgiving. We wanted to have a very low-key Turkey Day, given we have a lot on our plate in December. At the last minute we ended up inviting some friends to enjoy our feast with us which ended up making the day all that more special.

Ben helped me decorate the tree and the house. He had his own ideas of how we should hang ornaments {not on the tree, that’s how!}. I ended up having a pile of ornaments to mend later on because they got dropped by an eager toddler. Oops!

Ben was so into decorating and loved seeing the transformation of the tree once it was lit. It is so endearing to watch the Christmas spirit and the magic of the season come alive through a young child’s eyes.

We turned Ben on to a few holiday movies {Elf and Polar Express} one dreary weekend. He loved sitting and watching a movie.

I hung up our advent calendar again this year and did a better job of planning our daily advent activities. Last year I didn’t keep track of planning or prep work that needed to go into a certain day’s activity, so when we pulled out the card I was unprepared. Thankfully this year I put a bit more thought and took good notes so I could keep up.

I think next year Ben will be more into it, though. There have been a few days where he just hasn’t remembered to get the activity out and then I remember when it’s too late. A few of our activities this year include: decorating gingerbread houses, writing a letter to Santa {there’s an adorable little mailbox in our neighborhood for mailing the letters!}, having eggnog as a special treat and going to play in the snow.

For the first time in a few years we’re adopting some families for Christmas. I intentionally requested young children and one of the families has two little boys that we asked Ben to help pick out toys for. I don’t think he quite got the concept {maybe I’m underestimating him} but he sure had fun picking out toys for them. I love the warm-fuzzy feeling of doing good in our community and spreading joy to others.

{I underestimated the amount of time it would take to wrap Christmas gifts for the children of three families.}

One of my holiday traditions is baking a boatload of cookies. I had a special helper in the kitchen this year. Ben was a stellar supervisor in the dough making process and he had a blast decorating the cookies a few days later. He had very strong preferences for sprinkle colors and then didn’t want to eat his creation!

Last weekend we also decorated our first gingerbread house together. Ben got to sample a lotttt of candy.

A major highlight for me from the holiday season thus far was our visit to Enchant, a holiday light festival down at Safeco Field, our baseball stadium. The whole field was turned into a Christmas light maze and ice skating rink. I had a blast!

The lights were magical and really unbelievable. I felt like I was ice skating along a river – it was a sweet, short little loop. The best part, though, was taking Ben ice skating for the first time. I grew up on a pond in Minnesota and have such fond memories of learning to skate as a very, very young child.

Alex just found out that there’s a skating rink about 5 minutes away from our mountain house. I hope we become regulars there – I’d love for our kids to grow up with that exposure, just like I had. Before this happens, though, I’m going to need to conjure up some new ice skates! My cousin’s hand-me-downs from age 12 took their last spin on the ice last weekend.

We have loads more to look forward to this holiday season. Our mountains just had a massive snowstorm and we’re considering going out to play in the powder one of these days. I can hardly wait to get Ben skiing this winter, and we’re counting down the days until Alex’s family arrives for Christmas.