Category Archives: Life

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.


My Favorite Toddler Boy Stuff

The holidays are upon us and now that I’ve done my favorite things + my favorite baby things I figured I’d throw tots in the mix too. Here are some things I’ve come to love for my tot {and he likes them too, depending on the day…}

Train set – just recently we got Ben his first train set and he’s having a blast with it. Most of the sets work well together.

Mini diggers – Ben LOVES small trucks/cars/things he can hold in his hand and carry around. These are among his favorites.

Green Toys trucks/cars – Ben’s favorite is the school bus. These are great for indoors or outdoors, though I personally like the size for indoors.

Picasso Tiles – Ben loves to connect the tiles {by magnets} together and build garages or train stations

Daniel Tiger Goes to the Potty book – no explanation needed if you have a toddler

Balance bike – watching Ben ride his balance bike is one of my favorite things. It has given him so much confidence and he’s nailing it! Remember the matching helmet!

Hanna Andersson jammies – these will last forever, I swear!

Cat & Jack joggers – Cat & Jack makes basically the only brand of pants that fits Ben and I love their pants! Since we’re just wrapping up potty training we’ve gone through a lottttttt of pants washing, and despite the low, low price of Cat & Jack pants, they really hold up.

Patagonia Retro-X Vest

Native shoes – these are an absolute must for moderate weather. They are so durable and easy to wash. I love them and they slip on so easily.

Hunter rain boots – I know, I know. They’re so cute and they’re SO easy for Ben to get on himself.

Pottery Barn Kids backpack – these are the cutest and Ben is so proud to be able to wear his own backpack like such a big kid.

Hanna Andersson undies – as I mentioned, we’ve done a lot of laundry and these undies hold their shape and their super soft feel. They’ll never wear out!

Bento Boxes for lunches and snacks

Favorite toddler books include:

My Favorite Baby Stuff

To complement my personal “favorite things” list, I thought I’d come up with a few more – one for babies and another one for tots. This list, for the most part, is meant for newborns or infants and some of the things listed can grow with kiddos.

Wubanub pacifiers

Ben was never really into the pacifier, but sometimes he’d like the Wubanub version. They are so sweet and you can pick from a variety of different animals. Someone told me that when you’re trying to wean off the pacifier you can cut the stuffed animal off so the child can keep it {also – there are similar stuffed animals made by Jelly Cat}. Hannah LOOOOVES her wubanub!

Zutano booties

These little booties are so cute and keep tiny toes warm in chilly weather. There are so many colors to choose from and you can’t go wrong with the matching bear hats. Hannah lives in these right now!

Baby Puff Ball Hat

I’ve gotten so many compliments about how darn cute Hannah looks in this hat – super bonus: it’s majorly on sale right now.

Baby Headbands

Swaddle Designs sleep sacks

These are my absolute favorite sleep sacks because of the quality and how the zipper works. It has two zippers and they’re both two way and they start/end on the bottom. I honestly don’t understand how the Halo sleep sacks are so popular – they’re so annoying to zip! Swaddle Designs were actually designed by parents who use sleep sacks.

Burt’s Bees Baby Burp Cloths

I mean, when you have a newborn {or a baby all the way up to age one in my case!} you go through a ton of burp cloths, or “milk scarves” as we dubbed them. These were my favorite – we have the big pack of plain white ones.

Hanna Andersson jammies

PJs get run through the wringer in the washing machine time and time again and Hanna Andersson jammies can live up to the test of time. They are so, so soft and the quality is unbeatable. Try to find them on sale, though. P.S. their socks are the absolute best for infants, too!

Patagonia outerwear

Patagonia lasts forever and is usually so cute! We love their little kids coats and buntings. Note: their sizing runs SO BIG, so be sure to size down at least one, if not two, sizes.

Honest Company Diaper Bundle

I love the Honest Company diapers – they are SO cute! They offer diaper bundles that include diapers and wipes that you can ship directly to the new mama. Their wipes are my favorite. A super, super nice gift! Note: these usually fit the more slender babies a bit better.

Jellycat Stuffed Animals & Toys

Jellycat’s plush toys are SO soft. I absolutely love their stuffed animals and lovies – and so does Ben. They also make some fun crinkle + interactive books and touch & feel books, which have all been hits in my house.

Musical Octopus

This was our go-to toy if Ben was upset – he LOVED hearing the music from this adorable bilingual octopus. If you squeeze the head it plays songs and something about it calmed  Ben right down.

Egg shakers

I’m not sure when Ben started to love these – maybe around 4 or 5 months? These little egg shakers are one of the best baby toys around!

Bright engaging toys

Lamaze makes some really fun, bright plush toys that have crinkle paper and teething elements. Ben loved some of these when he was a wee one.


These are great stroller or car seat toys for little ones. They provide lengthy distractions!

EZPZ Silicone Food Mat

I loved this with Ben and can’t wait to get Hannah into solid foods. I like the divided plates for tots for the sole reason that they’re cute. This one is silicone and you can easily wash it.

Crinkle Book

Hannah is obsessed with her crinkle book. She has the “Tails” version and tries to eat the little animal tails.

Memory book

There are SO many memory books to choose from. I have the whale one for Ben for his first year and then I just got the toddler “little years” for him for the next few years. I liked how these were organized and they weren’t too “babyish” – I just liked the style. This is pretty personal, though, so I wouldn’t suggest this as a gift – more just hey, new moms, check this out.

Bestaroo swaddle blankets

These are soooo soft and cozy and stretchy and cute. I absolutely loved them when Hannah was a newborn.

Closet dividers

Ok, these are mostly boring and really practical, but they’re so nice to have when you’re organizing a brand new baby’s closet, if you opt to hang things. For the first year, they go through sizes so quickly and it’s nice to have clothes from the next size on hand. Enter closet dividers!

Personalized books

These make super sweet gifts – make sure, though, that you get an age-appropriate book. Most of the personalized books are for older kids. They do make some board books, which are perfect for babies.

Books {these were some of Ben’s favorites until age 1 – some still remain on the favorite list}

Ali’s Favorite Things 2018

I started doing a “favorite things” list a few years ago and thought I’d keep it going this year by adding some new stuff I’ve come to love recently.

Beauty Blender makeup sponge

LaVazza coffee

Costco Biscotti – ok, so my mornings start with a hope of 10 minutes to drink my cup of LaVazza coffee in my mama bear mug with a piece or two of biscotti on the side. I get up 10 minutes early just to enjoy my coffee and biscotti in peace. And I give this Costco biscotti two very big thumbs up.

Blendtec blender – I make smoothies every morning and this blender is top notch!! It has several settings depending on what you’re blending and the speeds and frequencies change throughout the blend period, resulting in perfection.

Eddie Bauer pajama bottoms + waffle knit top – can I please just not get dressed?!

LL Bean pullover – this one got me on an Instagram ad. I knew if I had it I’d live in it and that’s the darn truth!

Before We Were Yours book – this is by far my favorite book I read this year. It is an extremely emotional story that was created out of the kidnappings and child trafficking through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage.

I read a lot this year and another favorite was The Girl Who Smiled Beads. Another emotional story – this one of a gal who survived and recounted her journey through the Rwandan genocide. I highly recommend this book because it will help you understand refugees and how you can empathize with them.

Minnetonka Moccasins – I buy a pair of these every four months or so {since I work from home I wear mine basically all the time}. They’re durable and you can walk outside, plus they’re super cozy.

All Clad Pots & Pans – these are incredible pots & pans – I love how easy it is to clean stainless steel! They just shine right up. These will last forever!

The perfect “mom-on-the-go” slip on shoes – and they’re on sale! {I have these in gray}

And the perfect “mom-on-the-go” hat

Or the perfect “mountain mom” hat

Happy holidays!

Building the Lodge: Fireplace & Details

The countdown is really on now! Alex and I have shifted from thinking about big picture items and decisions at The Lodge to narrowing our focus on the finishing details and moving in. It is finally starting to feel like our move in date is approaching – and it really is! We’re within two months now.

Here’s what’s happening at The Lodge now:

We pulled up to the house on a snow-covered driveway! Chains were required on all vehicles {except all-wheel drive, which both of our cars are} to cross Stevens Pass on our drive up. It was beautiful. The snowflakes were huge and puffy and it was really coming down! We loved being up at our house for the first snowfall of the season.

The biggest update is the stone on the fireplace inside! We absolutely love it. The mantel is a chunk of local wood and our cabinet maker made it for us.

Much of the great room was taken up by a gigantic pile of cedar boards. This wood is hanging out inside the house adjusting to the climate and will soon become our ceiling. All of the second story ceilings will be cedar.

Another big update is that the bathrooms and front entry are prepped for tile! This is the main floor bathroom – the floors have the radiant heat coils laid and are ready for tiling to start.

We were surprised to see most of the light switches and outlet covers had been installed, along with some of the actual lights. We were able to turn on some lights in the house!

Alex and I made the trip just the two of us. Hannah is getting to the age where she’s not super thrilled to be strapped into a car seat all day, so we left both of our kids with Stacey and headed out to meet with our cabinet maker to decide on some stain colors. Here’s what we decided:

Our lower kitchen cabinets will be painted the gray/green color above. We’ll have mostly open shelving up on top of the counters except one corner cabinet to anchor the open shelves, as well as a cabinet around the refrigerator. The uppers will be stained the gray.brown on the sample above. We’ll have white subway tile as our back splash in the kitchen.

We also had the pleasure of seeing the raw wood cabinets before they got finished. They look so gorgeous!

{These are our lower cabinets in the kitchen – they’ll be painted the green/gray color. They are beech wood.}

{These are our Pacific Northwest Wild Cherry bathroom cabinets.}

We know we’re about two weeks out from interior doors getting installed, then comes trim. In between we’re hoping for some tile and maybe wood on the ceilings.

Hopefully next time we’re out at the house there will be even more snow on the ground – and hopefully we’re even closer to the finish line!

Hannah is Four Months Old!

Happy Thanksgiving! Our sweet baby girl is growing, growing, growing and is now four months old! I’ve gotten to the point where I gush about how teeny tiny brand new babies are because Hannah is just getting so darn big. I can’t believe how quickly you forget how little they start out.

We don’t have Hannah’s four-month check-up for another week so I won’t get updated measurements until then. I’m guessing she’s around 16++ pounds {last I knew she was in the 75%}. No clue on her length, probably still short. She’s still in 3-6m clothing. She’s short, so I’m hoping she’ll fit into it for a little longer…



Hannah truly is the sweetest, happiest baby I’ve ever met. She is SO smiley – I just can’t stop staring at her because she gets so happy and excited to look at me.

Lately Hannah has been really interested in holding things. She will always hold onto my shirt or her blanket and loves to have a toy in her hand. She can already put her pacifier back in her mouth. She’s been chomping on her own hand, too – we are wondering if she’s starting the teething process.

Also! Hannah has started sucking her thumb! She loves her pacifier too – she has a really cute lamb and duck pacifier {or “wubbie” as we call them in our house} that bring her a lot of joy.

Just last week Hannah rolled from her back to her tummy! It’s not a skill she’s mastered – definitely still practicing – but it was really fun to hear that she did that.

Since she has been spending so much one-on-one time in the mornings with Stacey while Ben is at school she’s been getting a ton of tummy time and play time down on the ground. It’s so fun for me to walk in and see her playing on the floor because when I’m down there with her it’s such a different vantage point. I love getting to walk in and see how strong she’s getting during her playtime.

Since I went back to work I’ve been able to work out my schedule so I can continue to attend my Tuesday morning PEPS group with Hannah. It’s a group of mamas and their second babies {most mamas have toddlers too}. I have really enjoyed my experience and the connections and relationships I’m building with the other mamas.

Hannah isn’t on any kind of a parent-led routine by any means. She has put herself on a routine, though, as I’ve mentioned before. Daylight savings time actually helped her get into a great nighttime routine – she’s now going to sleep at about 7:30 p.m. and sleeps until anywhere between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. – usually depending on the 2-year old noise level in the house. During the day she naps at random points throughout the day – more catnaps than anything else. She is so good at going with the flow, thankfully.

Hannah has two birthmarks – one is just above her right eye {you can see in the photo above} and one is at the nape of her neck. The one on her neck is more red/purple and is mostly covered by her hair so once her hair grows in you’ll never know it’s there. The birthmark on her forehead is more noticeable in photos than in person

We are so wild about this sweet baby girl and I can’t wait to see these next few months unfold. Her little personality is just starting to come out. We have so much to look forward to – sitting up, the introduction of solid food, baby giggles, and the list goes on!


Building the Lodge: Paint!

On a recent trip out to The Lodge, Alex and I needed to confirm our hardwood floors {we’re going with a #2 knotty white oak with a clear coat and 5″ floorboards} and do a walk through of the house with the tile guys. It was a big day out there and I suspect we’ll be back again very shortly.

The house looks great! The siding is done {!!!!!} and the inside is painted! It wasn’t actually a huge change from when we were out last – it seems like the little bits and pieces are coming together but now it’s small-scale changes. Take a look!

{The pillars are done on either side of the front door, and the whole house has siding!}

{The stairs off of the deck are installed now. We also have a driveway! The builder had them pour a sidewalk that leads to the back deck, as well as the front door.}

{Back steps off the deck are done too.}

{The walls are painted! All painting, with the exception of some touch ups, has been completed, and the mantel is in on the fireplace. I believe they’re starting the stonework on the fireplace very shortly. The interior fireplace stone will be the same as the exterior.}

{One more shot of the paint – it’s a white/gray/green color… I’m not one for describing colors very well!}

{And finally, here’s a shot of the floor sample we selected. Our doors are a knotty alder.}



Life has been a liiiiittle crazy around here lately. I’ve heard people say one {kid} is like none and two is like 20 {or insert other high number here} – I definitely don’t think that’s the case for us; however, the transition of me going back to work and our childcare and logistics of life have been a little bit nuts these last several weeks. Oh, and everyone has been sick.

Hannah kicked off my first day back to work with an eye infection and pink eye. Alex got it a few days later, along with a really nasty flu-like virus. Ben got the virus immediately, as did Hannah. The viruses get a little fuzzy because it almost seemed like Ben got a little cold first and then the nasty virus kicked in a week later and Alex got the nasty virus first and then a cold towards the end. Hannah’s just a champ so she powered right through it with a little extra sleep and a lot of congestion. Our crew was down for the count for 19 days. 19 days.

Somehow I got spared, which was great since I was on total mom duty for quite some time. I’m totally fine solo parenting, but in this instance it was tricky because I wasn’t expecting to be rolling solo and having no notice meant I didn’t have anything prepared for the days. I wasn’t sure if Alex just needed to snooze in the morning for an hour or if he’d be out all morning or all day. Planning is kind of helpful for my sanity. It was extra tricky having Alex try to sleep right in the heart of our house – it was so hard to keep Ben quiet and out of the room.

On the second weekend of Alex being sick I finally had enough of being cooped up and waiting to know if Alex was joining the living again and I picked the kids up and we took the bus downtown to the aquarium. I didn’t really think it through whatsoever – total impulse decision – but we were out of the house for about 4 hours and Alex got a good nap in and started to turn it around.

In the midst of the illnesses, Ben either was really down and out from being sick or he was going through a big brain development and he was a dissasssstterrrrrrrrrr. The course of the two weeks where everyone was sick was undoubtedly the most challenging parenting time so far. Holy cow. I have a feeling that was only a taste of what’s to come as we’re getting more into toddlerhood.

During this time it was inconceivable for Stacey to watch both kids at the same time. Hannah would have been completely neglected because Ben needed so much attention. Most days at some point I ended up taking at least one of the kids, if not both.

Alex and I joked that Ben became bipolar or possessed by a demon. One minute he’d be perfectly happy, then you’d ask which color straw he wanted and dear lord the world must have ended. Try to get him to get dressed and goodness gracious it was world war 3. There was a lot of screaming, hitting, kicking, temper tantrums, arguing, fighting, down right refusing, food throwing – you name it. Negotiating with a terrorist is what Alex called it. And then, just like that, our sweet little Ben returned.

How’s Hannah, you ask? Thank heavens she is a dream. Sweetest baby girl I’ve ever met. Hannah’s bright blue eyes and big full-body smile light up the room and can brighten anyone’s day. Seriously.

Amidst the chaos we did have some really sweet moments and a lot of fun. I’m loving doing preschool drop off with Ben and having my moms group with Hannah. We trekked out to the mountains, Ben and I baked some cookies, we’ve had numerous park trips and play dates and we went swimming together as a family.

FINALLY everyone seems to be healthy. I’m hoping we can get a few weeks before the next virus strikes.


Back to Work!

Two weeks ago my blissful maternity leave came to an end and I went back to work. I’m fortunate that I really enjoy my job and the people I work with, but still, it wasn’t easy.

I was able to take three full months off with Hannah and it was so special to have that time to bond with her. I absolutely adore my sweet baby girl. Since we’ve been connected for so long it has been really hard to be away from her during the day.

Luckily I have been able to ease back into work and piece together my work schedule in combination with some kiddo things during the week. I’m in charge of taking Ben to his co-op preschool twice a week – one day I stay for the full time and the other day I drop him off and go work in a coffee shop. We’ve been sneaking some extra mama/Ben time in at the end of school and grabbing a coffee together.

I’m doing a moms group called PEPS that’s designed for mamas and their second baby. We meet one morning a week {babies and mamas} and it’s so nice to have that built-in time with Hannah during the week too.

So far the scheduling has been more streamlined than I expected and it’s really nice to get a chance to spend a little one-on-one time with both kids during the week. I’ve also been intentionally trying to limit the time that Stacey has to manage both kids at the same time. It really is difficult to manage the logistics of a two-year old along with a 3-month old.

We’re all still getting the hang of our new rhythm and waiting for it to change again {Stacey, our au pair, will be leaving us at the end of the month}. For now, I think our schedule is working out okay. Ben is loving both of his preschools and I’m happy that I get to spend some real quality time with both kids separately during the week.

{Poor Hannah had an eye infection that required a doctor’s visit on my first day back.}

It’s still hard to leave my kiddos during the day. I know the time goes so darn fast and I want to look back on this time feeling like I spent enough time with them and made enough memories. No one said being a working mom is easy – we can’t have it all!