Sixth Annual Octoberfest Trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ben is 16 Months Old!

Every day Ben continues to demonstrate how much he is learning right now – it is such an incredible thing to experience as a parent. Our little tyke is 16 months old now and his language and communication skills have exploded over the last few weeks. That has been one of the highlights of the last month.

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Because of our recent vacation, Ben only just had his 15-month check up last week. The doctor gave him a clean bill of health, along with four vaccines. We were excited to see Ben break through the 10th percentile in weight for the first time – he’s now in the 15th percentile! For height he’s around the 40th percentile. As of last week, Ben weighed 21 pounds, 14 ounces and was 30 3/4 inches tall.

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We have been having so much fun watching Ben learn to talk recently. He had been repeating words for a while and began to build up a vocabulary with proper association. Today he has a vocabulary close to 30 words, I bet. It seems like he’s learning a new word or two every day. I’m pretty blown away at how much he is able to communicate. His doctor let us know that his vocabulary is much more advanced than his age, which I had no idea.

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It’s hard to say what his favorite words are at any given point, but they definitely include:

  • Kitty
  • Truck
  • Yah (yes)
  • Lina (Auntie Alina)
  • Ceiling
  • All done
  • Bath time

Ben picked up on the baby sign language pretty quickly around 12 months. We taught him a few signs for things like “more” and “water” and “milk” – it’s really helped him figure out how to communicate with us. While we were on our recent trip Ben came up with his own sign for “hungry” or “eat” – he just started pointing to his mouth when he wanted some food. He’s very good at pointing at something and saying “that” which is super helpful so we know what he’s asking for.

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What’s possibly even more fun is the associations Ben is making. His nanny sings songs with him all the time and he’s learning random words from the songs. He can point to and say “ceiling.” “floor,” “window,” and “door” because of a silly song. He can identify his head, nose, mouth, tummy, feet and ears and can clap his hands. He is starting to be able to point out animals in books, in person or on the refrigerator magnets. There are a few animal sounds that he makes, but mostly just the name of the animal or he can point to the animal if you say its name. I just cannot believe how much his language skills are developing right now.

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In addition to communication, Ben’s physical skills are developing and he has become super stable on his feet. He’s beginning to pay attention to uneven surfaces and he’s falling a lot less {though he did just take a nasty tumble, nose first, into some concrete at the playground over the weekend}.

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Ben has taken to scurrying around the house these days. His “scurry” is somewhere between a walk and a run – he’s moving fast but not too fast. He loves to push his old school popcorn popper around the house and do laps through our circular main floor.

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One of Ben’s new favorite activities is somersaulting into Jackson’s bed. This all started with him running and jumping into Jackson’s bed and somewhere recently he figured out how to somersault. His somersaults are not quite on point but they are getting really close.

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Another highlight of the last month or so has been how focused Ben has become on something that is of interest to him. He has really taken to reading and right now his favorite books are those that have one big picture of something {i.e. a truck!} on it, or really interactive books like touch and feel books. The other day while I was making dinner he sat in Alex’s lap and they read stories and talked to each other for a good half an hour. It was so sweet to listen to.

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Ben’s personality is continuing to emerge. He is SUCH an entertainer. It is hilarious to watch – he has started blowing kisses as his way to say hello or goodbye and he does things to try to make people smile and laugh. He has begun laughing in appropriate situations – it is so funny. He is really starting to associate his actions with getting a smile from someone.

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Ben’s demeanor is so sweet. He’s a fun-loving kiddo. He is liberal with the hugs these days and if I’m sitting on the floor with him he’ll walk over and climb right into my lap for a story. He is fairly calm, but also very loud and dramatic at times. If he’s got an opinion about something he is sure to let you know. It is really hard not to laugh if he’s having a tantrum about something ridiculous!

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We are really finding that getting out for an active adventure every day is very important. Ben gets to a point where he gets bored if he is cooped up inside for too long. Most days for the last few months have been spent with at least one trip to the playground in the morning and another outing somewhere else. Now that the rainy season is looming over us {not here yet!!} we’re scouring the web to come up with an arsenal of tot activities. Ben tried out My Gym today and did a really cool gym class – I think that’s going to be a weekly thing now!

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I can only imagine that when I sit down at the end of October {let’s be real, the beginning of November} to write my next month post about Ben turning 17 months that he’ll be talking even more and maybe mastered his somersault. It’s hard to picture what he’ll be like in a month, but I can say for sure that he’s changing more and more every day. This little boy is a blast!

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Fall Family Fun!

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

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

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

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{cinnamon rolls + coffee the next morning!}

{cinnamon rolls + coffee the next morning!}

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

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

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

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Happy fall! 🙂

Ben’s First Day of “Preschool”

Ben had his first day of “preschool” this past week. As a way to get him more time with other kids his age and to get him out of the house we signed him up for a cooperative preschool near our house. He’ll go to school twice a week for the whole school year.

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A co-op preschool is one where the parents are very involved, and really in this case, run the operations of the school. There is a head teacher and a parent educator, and otherwise, everything is done by very involved parents. The parental involvement component is turning out to be significantly more than I expected, but I think there’s a great opportunity to build a nice little community.

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We missed the first two weeks of school because of our recent trip, nonetheless, Ben got started without a hitch and fit right in. The school sessions are 90 minutes and include an hour of free play, 20 minutes at the playground and 10 minutes of songs and circle time. Our first day went really well and Ben loved exploring the new space. It was really sweet to see all of the other kids playing and I am looking forward to watching them all grow up together this year!

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Midwest Tour

Our last big trip of the summer is now behind us. We just returned home from a whirlwind 12-day trip to the Midwest {and Mexico for Alex!}. We covered a lot of ground, including my hometown and family cabin, Alex’s family’s lake home, his parents home and Chicago. It was really nice to spend time with our families and for Ben to get to hang out with his grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousin, as well as quite a few of our friends.

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The trip started on a Thursday – Alex flew to San Diego as a staging area to head to Mexico the following day while Ben and I headed to Minnesota just 15 minutes ahead of Alex. Alex spent a long weekend down in Ensenada, Mexico, which is in Baja, to attend the wedding of our friends Justin and Tania. He said it was absolutely gorgeous!

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Our flight was a piece of cake, with the exception of a very rude Delta flight attendant {this was a good reminder of why we fly Alaska!}, and Ben was a rock star. He slept for about half of the flight and the other half he was completely content with snacking and doing some activities.

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For most of our time in Minnesota we stayed with my mom. Ben loved her “kitty cat” and the pool in her backyard, naturally. We spent a lot of time checking out different playgrounds, experiencing the farmers market and going to the beach. Ben and I enjoyed a nice dinner on the deck of my brother’s new house – it was really nice to get to see his new place and spend time with John and his girlfriend, Becky.

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I had some of my friends from high school and their families come over for an afternoon in the pool one day. It’s so fun to see all the kids together – between six of us we have 9 kids altogether with another on the way!

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Another highlight of our time in Minnesota was our trip up to my dad’s family cabin. The cabin has been in his family since the 1930s and holds a lot of memories! It was so fun taking Ben up there and watching him cruise around, explore and play with my brother’s old Tonka trucks. He even got to go for a dip in the lake and take a couple of paddle boat rides with me.

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After a really fun time in Mexico, Alex came and met us in Minnesota late Monday night, five days into our trip. We spent our last day in Minnesota together with my family before hitting the road for the 5-hour drive to Alex’s parents lake home in southern Wisconsin.

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It was so relaxing being at the lake – Ben loved some fun new toys that Grammy and Grandpa had for him to play with, and he loved seeing his cousin Nico, who is 6 months younger than he is. We went for boat rides, Ben played in the kiddie pool and we all enjoyed our time together. To top it off, it was absolutely perfect summer lake weather.

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Throughout the trip Ben continued to impress me with his ability to adapt to new situations and new people. While he didn’t sleep very well the whole trip {who can blame him!?}, he continued to remain his normal sweet, friendly self during the day and loved spending more time with his extended family. While we were on the trip his first molar started to poke through and he got a cold. Despite the recipe for disaster he managed to hold it together and was such a happy camper the whole trip.

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On Friday afternoon Alex and I headed to Chicago, leaving Ben in Wisconsin with Alex’s parents. We had a wedding in the city to attend, where Alex was a groomsman. We stayed right downtown in the Loop in a great location and a beautiful hotel and had a really nice time catching up with many of Alex’s friends from high school.

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Alex was occupied on Saturday with wedding stuff, so I met up with Alina and Nico for a leisurely stroll through Restoration Hardware, followed by a wonderful lunch in their courtyard restaurant. We took a nice walk through part of the city before I headed to the wedding.

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On Sunday morning Alex and I had a little time together to take a walk to Millennium Park and be tourists for a few minutes. Then we headed to his parents home to spend the afternoon with Alex’s family before we had to leave to get back to Seattle the next day. We got to see Nana, Alex’s grandma {and our only surviving grandparent}, and spend more time with his parents, Alina, Alberto and Nico, as well as Alex’s uncle Mike.

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All in all, our trip was really, really nice. We loved seeing our families and getting to spend so much time with them. It’s so fun watching Ben in new spaces and getting to know his grandparents and other family members. It’s such a fun time right now and it was so special sharing that with our family and friends.

Summer Time!

This has been one of my most memorable summers ever. Our little family filled it up with hours upon hours at the playground, trips to the beach, Friday strolls through the farmers market, walks with the dog, regional travel {and bigger trips for Alex} and a whole slew of new experiences. When you step back and look at it, many of the experiences with Ben were pretty standard and low-key, and even so, they were so memorable for me. We kicked off summer with a bang out in Leavenworth where we celebrated Ben’s first birthday over Memorial Day weekend.

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One of my favorite summer Friday traditions became going to Madison Park, the neighborhood just to the north of ours, and either hitting the beach or the playground {often both!}, stopping at the bakery for mama’s coffee and to grab some pastries for Saturday morning. Then we’d go down to the farmers market in the afternoon and pick up some produce and gorgeous flowers.

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When summer started, Ben was a pro-crawler who loved going in the swings at the park. Quickly he warmed up to the sandbox and grew to love playing in the sand and observing the big trucks or other older kids.

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By the end of the summer Ben knew how to walk so he was able to cruise around independently at the park. He began to climb the play structures, push around the dump trucks or the tricycle, and still has a soft spot for the swing. We continuously say that the playground has become our second home. We spent close to 2 hours per day there – we are so grateful to have such a nice playground so close to our house.

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His favorite park past time, though, still remains playing with the wood chips… And yes, he is generally without one shoe. I don’t understand how he can get his shoe off so quickly. One time I counted that I put it back on 13 times before I gave up.

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We didn’t make it out on too many hikes this summer, but the ones we did get on were great! We love our new hiking backpack and look forward to getting plenty of use out of it.

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Per usual, we squeezed in some travel. Alex attended three bachelor parties and had some travel for work, so he wins the award for the most summer trips. Ben and I met Alex up in Vancouver for a night, which was a real highlight for me. Otherwise, Alex and I took a trip just the two of us to Sonoma, then we had a family trip to Seabrook, Washington.

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{Enjoying a walk through Vancouver!}

{Enjoying a walk through Vancouver!}

{Vancouver highlight: the pool at the Fairmont!}

{Vancouver highlight: the pool at the Fairmont!}

{Seabrook on the Washington coast}

{Seabrook on the Washington coast}

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Ben became quite fond of water over the summer. We spent many a day on the beach, at an outdoor pool or a kids wading pool or in our backyard playing with the kiddie pool or splash pad. Ben loves to splash around and appears to be fearless. I’m hoping to get him into a swimming program this fall.

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Ben also got to go on his first boat ride this summer! He seemed to really enjoy it and everyone who was there agreed we had never seen him be so still.

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Summer is unofficially ending today… I will always look back so, so fondly on the many memories our little family created together. This was a summer to remember forever.

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Ben is 15 Months Old!

My baby is really not a baby anymore. Last weekend he turned into a toddler before my eyes and today he is 15 months old. This little boy is making leaps and bounds right now – I can’t keep up with all of the changes. Ben is the light of our life and we absolutely adore how sweet and friendly he is, what an inquisitive personality he has and how independent and determined he is becoming.

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We won’t have his 15 month checkup until the end of September so I don’t have an updated weight or height. He’s probably somewhere between 21 and 22 pounds and I’m guessing 29 or 30 inches tall.

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Developmentally, Ben is on-point! We had an evaluation with an occupational therapist {this is a really incredible benefit we receive because he was a preemie – I wish everyone would take advantage of seeing an OT for their babe!} and learned that Ben is right where he is supposed to be, developmentally, which is always a concern with a premature baby. We got some great tips for how to keep helping him thrive.

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Over the last month the biggest change we have seen in Ben is his ability to walk. We made the call that he was a walker at the very end of 13 months and as a 14 month old he has really started to master it. Watching Ben learn how to walk was one of the coolest things I’ve experienced.

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It was so much different than seeing him learn how to crawl or roll over or sit up. It took so much determination and he was SO proud of himself when he would progress. He has been practicing different falling techniques and we could tell that he was trying to figure out how to turn by doing it over and over and over. Today, as an official 15 month old, he is really sturdy on his feet and is able to navigate transitions {i.e. rugs, steps up or down} really well.

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Independence has been a huge change recently, too. We’re now able to leave him in his room for several minutes to play by himself while we do something else and most of the time he stays fully engaged in whatever he was doing. He has been loving looking at books with one picture per page {great for vocabulary development!}, playing with his dump truck or anything with music.

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We sort of caved and let him play on the iPad. The bigger “cave” was getting the gigantic “tot proof” iPad case. It’s ridiculous, but I think he could throw it out the window and it would survive. He really likes to listen to music and he loves touching things on the screen, so one day last week I let him mess around on a baby app. We’re certainly not intending on this being a regular thing yet, but the iPad will definitely come on our upcoming plane ride!

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Communication has been so cool over the last few months. Ben’s vocabulary in actual words {not just sign language} is increasing – his favorite words are: pasta, cracker and kitty and he not only can say the word, but he says it correctly in context. It is so neat to watch him figure things out and to see that he can understand what I’m saying.

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One day recently I told him to sit down while he was in the bath tub and before I could help him sit down, he sat down. It’s moments like that that I have to sort of take a step back and realize how much this kid can understand and how much he’s growing up {insert mama tear here!}.

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Ben has transitioned over the last month to having only one nap a day, which has been fantastic. That means more time to take longer trips up to the playground! How Ben plays at the playground seems to change on a weekly basis. His favorite things are playing in the wood chips or the sand, playing with the dump trucks or the tricycle. He also loves watching the big kids play.

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Ben has really become a water baby! I’m starting to wonder if he’s part fish – he is so comfortable in water and he loves splashing his hands and kicking his feet. We’ve had a lot of fun with the kiddie pool and splash pad in our backyard, wading pools and outdoor pools around the city and going to the beach. Oh, and the bath, but he’s getting bored in the bathtub, so we’ve got to step it up, I guess.

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Over the last month, sleep has been a big focus for us. One of our goals was to get Ben to totally put himself to sleep. We absolutely achieved that goal, and it happened much easier and faster than we expected. So, now Ben is putting himself to sleep independently and has been sleeping basically better than ever.

{B discovered the Nest camera when he woke up! I thought this screen shot was hilarious!}

{I thought this screen shot of Ben discovering the Nest camera was hilarious!}

Last weekend when Alex was out of town, Ben “officially” became a toddler. Everyone always says it’s a game changer when the tot starts walking – while I knew things would change I really didn’t expect it to be any different in terms of how fast Ben would be. Yeah, that was naive. Ben was a super fast crawler but now I literally can turn my back and not actually know where he is 2 seconds later.

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He’s vertical now and at eye level with our wine glasses hanging up in the hutch in the dining room, which he likes to touch. From there, he goes to the dog’s water dish and throws something {half the time, my keys} into it. Then he runs in the bathroom and opens the locked cabinet door, and then pushes open the toilet seat, then pulls the toilet paper from the roll and dumps out the trash before opening all one of the drawers and then tries to close the bathroom door and accidentally runs it over his toes or closes it on his fingers. And then he’s off to our bedroom where he pulls open a drawer so fast it sends him flying backwards. And then he’s in his room trying to open the diaper pail {not hard to figure out!}. Now he’s on the other side of the house playing ball with Jackson. From there, he’s in the kitchen pulling open the pots and pans cupboard and taking all of the lids out and clangs them together like cymbals. And that’s over the span of 2 minutes. Yes, I am perpetually exhausted these days.

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We are really looking forward to starting Ben’s cooperative preschool in a few weeks. It’s a play-based school program and I’m excited to get some new ideas of things to do with him and have the opportunity to observe him playing with other kids. I think he’s going to love the social time – he is so friendly and seems to love being around other people.

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One of the bittersweet parts of Ben turning 15 months old is that we have decided, per the pediatrician’s suggestion, to be done giving him a bottle. It was really sad knowing that it was the last bottle we’ll ever give him, but it’s also exciting knowing that he’s growing up and turning into a little boy. He doesn’t need the bottle anymore and he is eating better than ever, loves food and is nailing it at restaurants lately.

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It still blows my mind how rapidly Ben is changing and how every month I keep saying it is still getting better and better. I really can’t imagine what changes are coming next for Ben, but everyone keeps saying it really does keep getting more and more fun.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Holy cats! August is shaping up to be NUTS for us. We have SO much going on this month it’s going to be hard to keep up! I even started writing in our calendar who is taking which car on what days so that we can manage everything right down to the nitty gritty details.

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We started off the month by buying a piece of land over in Leavenworth, a quaint mountain town about 2 hours from Seattle that we spend a lot of time visiting. We’ve been looking for a vacation home in the mountains to share with Alex’s parents for more than a year and recently decided to change course and build a house.

{The view from our new property!}

{The view from our new property that overlooks a field with a giant rock wall and mountains in the background.}

{This is where we expect the house to go.}

{This is where we expect the house to go.}

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We’re elated to have found a beautiful, flat 3.1 acre property to call our own! We expect to close at the end of the month and will likely start building next summer. We had hoped to break ground this fall if possible, but it seems like holding off until next year makes more sense. We don’t want to rush into it too much. That means, though, that we might be spending Christmas 2018 in our new mountain house! More on this to come later, I’m sure.

{Holding up his computer after signing the offer we made on the lot! We were so excited!}

{Holding up his computer after signing the offer we made on the lot! We were so excited!}

In other news, lately Alex has been suggesting that we should get Ben some more socialization with other kids during the day. While he gets out to the playground most days and story time at least once a week and a play date most weeks he doesn’t have the same social experiences that he would have if he went to daycare.

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I’ve got no qualms about daycare, it simply works better for our schedules to have the flexibility of a nanny. So, after scouring the Internet and polling some of my mama friends, we have enrolled Ben in a preschool co-op that starts in September. This preschool has “classes” for one year olds where it’s basically unstructured play time together {they have more formal classes for 2, 3 and 4-year olds). The class meets twice a week for 90 minutes each day. Not too big of a commitment. I’m really looking forward to starting – because it’s a co-op, all families have to get involved to help run the school, so I’m excited to meet other parents in the area and get Ben some time with other kids. Buuttttt that also means that each family has a “job” {I’m the designated “worker” in our family} sooooo you’re looking at either the new Halloween party planner, spring picnic party planner or sunshine chair!

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Another child care note worth mentioning is that our nanny has left us for a three week trip. We’ve got backup care scheduled, but you never know how that will turn out. I have a feeling it’ll be a mama + Ben month.

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Nearly a year ago, now, we started going to our parents group, called PEPS {Program for Early Parent Support}, which met once a week for 12 weeks. We built a really nice community with other families close by who have babies the same age as Ben. The PEPS organization asked if I’d be interested in facilitating a new group and because we didn’t have enough going on, I said yes! Despite our crazy schedules I’m really, really looking forward to leading a PEPS group, which starts in a couple weeks. It will be one evening per week where I get to facilitate a meeting between 8 families with newborns. It will be so fun to think back to those crazy days with a newborn!

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Alex has two bachelor parties to attend this month – one in Whistler and one down in Portland. So, it’s really going to be a mama + Ben month!

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The weather has been hot, hot, hot lately. We’ve had this really weird smog clouding the region the last 10 days from wildfires up in British Columbia. I heard that our air quality right now is worse than Beijing! We can’t hardly see across the lake and you can literally see the smoke clinging to sights off in the distance. It’s really strange. That being said, I haven’t gone for any runs in the last week and Alex hasn’t ridden his bike, so we’re ready for the heat wave to break and the smoke to clear! I’m ready for fall!

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Ben is 14 Months Old!

Without a doubt the development and changes in the last month have been more significant than any other month in the last 14. We’ve got a little boy on our hands!

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This last month has been filled with growth – physical and developmental! I swear Ben grew 3 inches this month {he has his next checkup at 15 months, where they’ll measure his height}. He weighs around 21 pounds but it’s been a while since we’ve gotten him on the scale. He has 6 teeth {2 on the bottom, 4 on top}. Finally his hair is growing too – he has these little sections in the back that are becoming curly and his hair is getting more and more blond. Oh the cuteness!! He also has a major tan line – I guess he tans like his mama! His little legs are quite tan from sticking out when he’s in the stroller {and yes, we do put sunscreen on him, and yes I use the good stuff}.

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In the last month or so, one of the biggest things that Ben has been working on is communicating effectively with us. He is getting so good at pointing at what he wants. Sometimes he’s even patient while we get it for him! This is so unbelievably helpful and has cut down on some whining. He is becoming more and more independent and wants to do things on his own sometimes.

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Ben is really mastering some of the sign language we’re using with him. He learned the sign for “milk” a couple months ago and more recently can sign “water” and “all done” and “more” – all very, very helpful.

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Speaking of water – this last month has been a huge, huge transition for Ben with regard to swapping milk in a bottle with water in a sippy cup. The Munchkin 360 sippy cup and kids Nalgene water bottle {without the vent} have been his two favorites. He can drink from both cups completely on his own!

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As a 13-month old he smoothly transitioned from 4 bottles a day to 2, one when he wakes up in the morning and one when he goes to sleep. He drinks 10-12 ounces of whole milk total in a day now. Weaning him off of milk was significantly easier than I expected. There were some tough days earlier on in the transition but it was pretty smooth, especially once he figured out the sippy cup. I think that was the most helpful factor.

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Milk is no longer an important source of calories for Ben. It’s even getting to the point where the bottle isn’t even what he wants or needs when he’s looking for comfort. Our pediatrician recommended being done with the bottle altogether by 15 months, so I guess that means that’s coming this next month.

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Since Ben is getting his calories and nutrients from real food now he’s eating like a little champ! In the last week we got to the point where Ben has started to essentially eat about half of an adult-size portion. I’m still very much adjusting to this – it’s a huge change of mindset to be preparing that much more food.

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Ben started out as a 13-month old who was learning to stand up on his own, took some steps mid-month and then finished out the month by officially beginning to walk! It has been such an exciting month for Mr. Ben!

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Sleep for Ben hasn’t been stellar this last month. I attribute it to Alex and me leaving Ben for four days when we were in California. For most of the last month he regressed to waking up once in the night, seemingly for some comfort and cuddles, and quite often arose for the day by/before 5 a.m. Not his best month for sleep, but certainly not his worst.

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After this change in his sleep {previously he had slept through the night at least 6 of 7 nights a week for at least two months consistently} we played around and re-worked his bedtime routine a bit. I’ve been a big fan of Elizabeth Pantley’s “No Cry Sleep Solution” – I know I’m in the minority but I’m just never going to get on the “cry it out” bandwagon.

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We revisited the book and are re-implementing some of the strategies {we had done this several months ago} and we are seeing positive changes. We also got him a night light and started shutting Ben’s door at night. Ben is going down to bed really well and he puts himself to sleep in his crib {with company} and is starting to put himself back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night. All of these things he had done previously but made a major regression at the end of 12 months.

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As of the last few days, Ben’s bedtime is 7 p.m. and his wake time is around 6:30 a.m., give or take about 20 minutes. We’re really happy to be back on track!

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In the last month Ben has started mimicking us SO much. He’s repeating words left and right and he’s begun imitating what we do sometimes, too. Ben can blow kisses and point to his tummy when asked where it is. He mainly repeats food words – “pasta” is his favorite. He absolutely loves to play peek-a-boo. It’s the cutest thing!

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We did a lot of traveling this last month. Ben came with us to Leavenworth for a day trip. We went up to Camano Island to spend the 4th of July with our friends. Ben and I met Alex way up north in Vancouver, British Columbia for a quick getaway, and then last weekend we went to Seabrook, Washington for a beach vacation. We love getting out and about, but we’re just as content to be at home and spend the afternoon up at our neighborhood park.

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This kiddo is turning into a little boy right before our eyes. I am so excited to see what Ben’s 15th month brings us – I have a feeling some more teeth and running are upon us this month…

We’ve Got a Walker!

It’s official – we’re making the call… Ben is walking! Check out the video here!

The first time Ben stood up on his own {as in went from a sit to a stand without help} was the weekend of the 4th of July. Since then he’s been practicing standing up, only a little bit, and walking while holding our hands.

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About two or three weeks ago Ben took his first steps – it almost seemed like a fluke! We kept trying to get him to repeat and he seldom would. Then last weekend we really practiced with him and he kept taking more and more steps. It seemed like he didn’t understand that he could walk – whenever he’d be standing and we’d say “come here” he would get down on his hands and knees and crawl over to us.

Finally last week on Tuesday I was really getting into it and kept practicing and cheering him on and I could tell it clicked – he finally got it that he could take steps on his own! Watching him figure out that he could walk has been one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. His eyes were so bright and wide and he was smiling ear to ear – he was SO proud of himself!

Check out the video here of him on Tuesday {it’s too long to embed here, I guess}.

He has been getting stronger and more stable with taking steps all week and then finally today we made the call to say he is walking because he went from sitting to standing to walking 100% on his own with no support or help at all.

Ben’s balance and ability to walk very far is still very limited – the most I’ve seen is about 10 steps. I have a feeling, though, that in two weeks he’s going to be running! We are mentally preparing for lots of falling, bumps and bruises – hopefully he’ll get the hang of it quickly!