Ben Turns 2 + Maternity Photo Shoot

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

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

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

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

Our First Family Camping Trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Start of Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy summer!!

Potty Training: 2+ Weeks In!

We’ve all survived potty training for two weeks and we haven’t given up! Three cheers for Ben!

Things are going very well with teaching Ben how to use the potty. It’s been waayyyyy less stressful than I expected. The first day was definitely the hardest, but then after the first week we all really got into a good rhythm. Until the end of the day on Friday {so, exactly two weeks in basically} Ben was being prompted to “go” 100% of the time, but at the very end of the day, right before bed, he told me he needed to use the potty.

This is a huge, huge milestone in potty training and I was overjoyed that he let me know. It continued to happen throughout the weekend and into the start of this week, which tells us things are “clicking” for him and we’ll soon be able to trust him to let us know. It’s going to be so nice to not have to tell him to go use the potty every 45 minutes or so! {I know that’ll be a while, but still…. something to look forward to!}

And for the record, we’re only doing daytime potty training right now since Ben still naps and sleeps in a crib. I think we’re getting closer and closer to a big kid bed, though, so, there’s that to also look forward to.

In any event, we are thrilled with how well it’s going. It has been so fun to see how excited and proud of himself Ben has been with the whole process. It’s so cool watching him learn a new life skill like this.

34 Weeks and Counting!

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

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

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

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

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

{32w6d}

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

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

Potty Training – 5 days in

A new milestone for our tot is upon us… we’re officially in the middle of potty training Ben! We’re five days in right now and I’m over the moon at how well it’s going.

We’re taking a very specific approach, as laid out in the newly famous “Oh Crap! Potty Training” book. This approach essentially makes you go from 100% diapers to 100% no diapers with the snap of a finger {and an enormous amount of subsequent effort and patience}. There’s no middle-ground of wearing diapers and then practicing going potty – it cuts straight to the chase and you’re just done with diapers, no ifs, ands or buts. Well, with one exception — sleeping.

It took a few weeks to read the book, get on board, mentally prepare ourselves and wait for the weather to cooperate. Once it did, we pulled the trigger and now we’re five days closer to having a potty trained child.

The first day was very challenging and I think overwhelming for us all. It was so new and it did not go quite how we expected {turns out Ben can hold it for a looooooooong time!}. Once we eased up on day two things started to fall into place. It was a very good learning opportunity for us all.

Right now, at the end of day five, we’re starting to get more comfortable with the idea of getting out for very short jaunts – i.e. a short walk around the block, mayyyybe a trip to the park. It’s still nerve-wracking for us to venture too far away, mainly because it’s so new and different and we haven’t done it yet. And full-size public toilets are wayyyy more intense and sparse than the little Baby Bjorn potty we can carry around the house/yard with us wherever we go.

So! The next steps in our process are to get out of the house and jump to the next level of communicating with Ben about using the potty. Right now we’re telling him to use it. We’d like to be able to ask if he’s got to go and trust his response. And, the end goal, of course is for him to be the one telling us he’s gotta go. I think that’s a few weeks away, though.

In any case, we’re on track and so proud of our little boy. It has been so endearing and makes our hearts overflow with pride and joy to watch Ben learning a new life skill. The best part, though, is seeing how proud of himself he is.

Building the Lodge: Framing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Months and Counting!

I’m officially two months away from my due date with baby #2. It sure came up quickly! I’m over the moon to report that all is well with this little girl and that I really have nothing to report. It is a very refreshing feeling to have a boring, standard pregnancy and I hope that keeps up.

Baby girl is a mover and a grower! At my ultrasound early this week she weighed in at 4 pounds – already at almost 31 weeks, she’s nearly a pound heavier than Ben was when he was born at 33 weeks.

The ultrasound confirmed that she’s head down – head way down – and just hanging out, practicing breathing and doing a lot of moving. From about 28-30 weeks I was pretty uncomfortable while she settled in and then it seems like she re-positioned herself and since then, I’ve been feeling really well. Since she flipped to be head down I’ve hardly even had any heartburn, which has been so, so very appreciated!

Now that we’re getting to the homestretch we are starting to prepare our house for having a baby and get our ducks in a row with logistics. We just found out that our au pair will be staying with us for an additional nine months past her original contract date {until September 2019} so we’ve got childcare squared away for the next year.

We’re all set for the initial round of clothes for her and I’ve started the big task of organizing Ben’s closet, which will become the “kids closet” very shortly. I guess we just need some diapers and a place for her to sleep and we’ll be all set for her to arrive?!

 

Ben is 24 Months Old!

We celebrated Ben’s second birthday last week with a big family trip over the mountains to Leavenworth, followed by mini celebrations all week long to honor the sweet little life of our boy. It seems like he’s grown up and changed so much in the last week – he really turned two. We’ve had a lot of firsts and are so excited to see what the “terrific twos” are all about.

Ben’s 24-month stats:

  • Weight: 25 pounds, 2 ounces {15-25th percentile}
  • Height: 33 3/4 inches {25th-40th percentile}
  • Number of teeth: 12
  • Clothing size: no change here – all over the board – very, very brand dependent!  2T for tops. Bottoms are so funny – he’s still in 12-18m at the very largest, but still fits into some 9-12m bottoms. He’s very difficult to buy clothes for!
  • Shoe size: size 6 toddler!
  • Favorite foods: cottage cheese, smoothies, Grandpa Fred’s burgers, broccoli & rice casserole
  • Favorite activities: singing “Wheels on the Bus”, doing things himself, watching videos of diggers, pushing toys, playing with Jackson, reading books, dancing, running, climbing, being silly with dada.

In the last month Ben has turned into “Bossy Ben” which, for now, is hilarious. I love hearing his very strong opinion about certain things – for example, that it’s not okay for anyone but dada to sit in dada’s spot at the dining room table. Ben is very good at expressing his opinion and preference. He very freely says “no way” and we’re starting to work on that becoming “no thank you” though it’s still pretty funny hearing him say “no way” all the time.

The big themes we’ve been seeing for the last 6-8 months have been around communication and that’s no different right now. We’re working on pronouns {btw – I’m done referring to myself in third person – once I mostly stopped that I realized how ridiculous it is. I think all it does is confuse him!} and complete sentences that include please and thank you. Ben has been asking “did you hear that?” or “what is that?” alllllll the time, which is so fun to start to get a closer glimpse of what’s going on in his mind.

Definitely along with the bossiness and communication comes manipulation, ignoring us and tantrums. Ben’s doctor told us that with his vocabulary and communication abilities he’d start to try to manipulate us earlier than most kids – yeah, we’re already there. It’s really funny. Tantrums are mostly avoidable at this point but of course depending on the circumstances there’s no way around them. Ben is very strong-willed and stubborn and has clear preferences, so talking him through things in difficult-for-him situations is critical. Alex is really good about diffusing the tough moments – mostly through humor or doing something to annoy Ben {not sure how that works but it does!}. Naturally, as a toddler, Ben feels feelings very strongly, though it’s also very mood/sleep/hunger dependent.

Finally it seems like learning colors is starting to click with Ben! That’s been really fun – up until about the last week or so I didn’t think he had any understanding of what different colors were, but now it’s clear that he’s getting it. I’ve been really working on it, so it’s nice to see the concept sinking in.

We just ordered a little glider board for our stroller because Ben wants to be an independent walker and not always a rider. The glider board goes under the parent push handle and is like a little spot for him to stand and hold on, rather than sit in his chair. He frequently requests to to get out and walk, so this is sort of a happy medium if we are out on a longer walk and he needs a ride but doesn’t want to sit.

 

Over the weekend we went for our first family walk without the stroller. We took Jackson up to the park on Sunday morning and per Ben’s request, left the stroller at home. Ben was a stellar listener and stayed with us and asked to hold hands when we crossed the street. It was wayyyyy less exhausting and chaotic than I expected!

For the last month or so we have been sloooooowlyyyy pulling off the bandaid of providing way too much support to Ben when he goes to sleep at night. Last weekend we ripped that bandaid right off and Ben is officially putting himself to sleep unsupported. I was 100% the barrier and finally when he turned two I became ready to put him in his crib, say goodnight and then walk out and close the door. We had a lot of conversations with him about the change and he handled it so much better than I expected! When we left the room he just laid down, cuddled up with his stuffed animals and fell asleep. There was absolutely no issue whatsoever. I guess he’s been ready for a while!

We are approaching the end of diapers! Alex and I are pulling the plug and starting potty training this weekend. I’m pretty excited to see how it goes and how he grasps the concept. It is so fun to watch him learn a new skill and see how proud of himself he is. We’ll do a two-phase approach where wake-times are diaper-free effective immediately and forever, then sleep-time will still be with a diaper for the time being since Ben still sleeps in a crib. Wish us luck!

Our little mover has become quite the climber! Ben is so agile and athletic – I continue to be amazed by him at the playground. He’s getting stronger and able to climb and pull himself up on things, hang from bars and be more sturdy all the time. He tested out the “big kid” swing for the first time when we were in Leavenworth and while we’re not ready to push him very high, he’s totally got it.

I can’t believe all of the “big kid” things that Ben is doing now. He really, really turned into a two-year old.

I think this will probably be my last month-by-month update about Ben. Having this blog as a way to keep track of our family, watch Ben grow and help our family stay on top of what’s going on with us has been so wonderful. I sometimes use it as a journal, tracking things for myself, and other times use it as a way to spread the word about what’s going on in our little lives. Thank you for reading!

Ben’s Second Birthday Celebration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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