Fall Family Fun

The weather in Seattle this fall has been perfection. We’ve been savoring the crisp, cool mornings and getting so much joy from the stunning fall colors painted in the trees around us. Washington is so beautiful any day of the year, but it seems like our surroundings are extra special in the fall.

We have enjoyed spending some free Saturdays visiting a couple of pumpkin patches in the area. There are so many to choose from and next year I will look forward to checking out some new spots.

{We met our friends, the Buffingtons, out at The Farm at Swan’s Trail a few weeks ago – it was so fun to see Roslyn and Ben together again!}

We had the most perfect fall day out in Leavenworth recently. It was one of my favorite days ever.

I just pulled out my raincoat and have made a mental note that it seems like the weather is starting to change enough to where I should probably consider wearing a raincoat most days from here on out. It’s definitely a mental shift! I’ve been loving getting cozy in all of my fall pullovers and I’ve been getting all of the pumpkin lattes from our neighborhood coffee shop. Just can’t get enough of fall!

We took a foggy ferry ride over to Bainbridge Island recently – Ben hadn’t been on a ferry before and we thought he’d love it. Turns out we were right!

{Ben was so tired that he fell asleep in the stroller right when we got off the boat. He stayed asleep ALL THROUGH LUNCH. That meant Alex and I got to have a little lunch date while both kiddos slept!}

And here’s a few more fallish photos of our littles…

Trick-or-Treat!

This was Ben’s second Halloween doing trick-or-treating. In Seattle it’s really common for kids to trick-or-treat in the neighborhood business districts – many of the local shops, restaurants, banks and other stores open up their doors and hand out candy for the kiddos. It’s pretty neat and it really draws a crowd.

{Bummer you can only see Ben’s Cubs costume – the rest of us were wearing our Cubs gear, too, just covered up by coats and babies!}

There are some streets that pull together and have massive trick-or-treating – I’ve heard there are a few streets near us that have adult beverage trick-or-treating too! We usually get one or two groups of trick-or-treaters to our house, and generally it’s the kids on our block.

Like last year, we did trick-or-treating in our neighborhood and then went to Madison Park, a slightly bigger neighborhood just to our north. This is the neighborhood of one of Ben’s schools and they have a cute little Halloween photo booth set up for families.

At the first few stops this year Ben was very shy about saying “trick-or-treat” {we practiced about a thousand times today!} but once we got to Madison Park and he saw more kids taking candy he got the hang of it.

It was really fun to see how excited Ben got about the other kids’ costumes. He wanted to go give everyone a hug – even the kids in the “scary” costumes, which Ben didn’t think were scary at all.

Ben had a Halloween party at his school today and another one yesterday at his other school. He got to partake in a lot Halloween festivities over the last week as a build up to the big day.

Candy isn’t really something we do much of in our house. We’ve started incentivizing having accident-free periods of time and on occasion he’ll get some M&Ms as a “special treat,” but otherwise, candy is still mainly an unknown, so he really didn’t know what he was getting when he was picking out candy while trick-or-treating. We let him have two pieces of candy, but one of his selections was an Almond Joy and he feels the same way about them as I do, so he only ate one piece of candy.

All in all, I think Ben had a really fun Halloween and Alex and I really enjoyed seeing him “get” it this year – what a fun experience! Next year he’ll get to share it with Hannah too. We will need to step it up in the creativity department too 😉

Mama’s 10K

Last weekend I ran a 10K! That’s just over 6 miles. I wasn’t as prepared for it as I had hoped, but I still did it and I ran the whole time!

The first half I had my little cheerleader along with me for the ride {he did the riding – I did the pushing!}, then I dropped him off with his dad and ran the last loop solo.

It’s liberating to have completed the run and I’m looking forward to our family Turkey Trot 5K coming up on Thanksgiving. This is my least favorite time of year to run {the rainy season, that is} so I’m guessing I’ll probably scale back a bit and pick it back up in the spring. I’m planning on training for another half marathon next fall in Leavenworth. Always something to look forward to!

Best Day Ever?

There are so many moments and experiences in my life that stand out as some of the best moments I’ve experienced – when both of my kids were born, Ben meeting Hannah for the first time and some dates and meals stand out, for sure. When it comes to best days ever, though, the list is shorter. Our wedding and some trips absolutely make the cut. I’m so happy to say I have a new “best day” to add to my list of favorites.

It was just one of those days that was so very special. We didn’t really do a whole lot, but then again, we did everything. It was as darn close to perfect a day as they come.

Alex and I had been chomping at the bit to get back out to The Lodge to see the drywall and siding. We knew the weather looked really nice so we planned a day trip on a recent Saturday with the kids. For some reason the day started with all of us sleeping in until 6:30 {yes, that’s sleeping in in our house – thank you Benjamin!} when Ben woke up and came and cuddled with us. That’s how all of the best days start: family cuddles!

We had a calm morning at home getting ready for the day {mind you, we packed up the car and were prepared to get on the road the night before} and we were in the car ready to go before 9:30 which is a feat in itself. The drive was a highlight, too. Goodness gracious these mountains we are surrounded by. I can’t even. They’re just so majestic themselves but then you add in the fall colors and I’m basically speechless. The drive was absolutely stunning.

It’s a solid 2-hour drive from our house in Seattle to The Lodge and we made great time. Both kiddos were completely content in the car too, which is no small feat. Pulling up to The Lodge and seeing the siding, the front door and the fireplace stone just took our breath away a bit. We are just beside ourselves with excitement for what this house means for our family.

We spent a few hours checking things out around the house, having a picnic and just watching Ben play a bit. As the story goes with toddlers, he had zero interest in the toys we brought for him {we carted his trampoline all the way over there – partially so we could leave it there and get it out of our house} and just wanted to play in the dirt and run around the construction zone.

{My cozy little bear!}

It’s just so fun making memories with our kids at The Lodge while we’re building it. I’m so glad that they’re both around for the process. It makes it extra special.

After a while we headed to Lake Wenatchee State Park, which is about 5-7 minutes from our house. On any day of the year, Lake Wenatchee is gorgeous. That day it was sheer perfection. Absolutely stunning and truly one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.

The water was like glass. The autumn leaves were at their peak. There was a thin layer of fog clinging to the lake. The sun was shining down on the lake just perfectly. And of course, the mountains in the background set the picture just right. It was absolutely breathtaking.

We ended up spending several hours there. Ben couldn’t get enough of the lake. He ran right in with his pants and shirt and got completely soaked. He and Alex took turns skipping rocks in the lake and enjoyed some time at the playground just up from the beach.

We took a short family hike to give Ben a little downtime and allow Alex and me the opportunity to scope out some more of the area.

Hannah and I had some fun playtime on the picnic blanket at the beach. She was having so much fun all day.

The day just kept going and going and we decided to stay until dinner and head back closer to bedtime so the kids could fall asleep in the car.

It was a very memorable and special day for Alex and me. We loved the time we spent with our kids and I think it was so special because we can really start to picture our new life with so much time being spent in the mountains. We cannot wait for what The Lodge will do for our family and the time we have together.

Building the Lodge: Fireplace & Drywall

On our last visit to The Lodge we were in awe of the updates. Things are taking shape so very nicely out there and it’s magnificent to see it all come together. We’ve been able to visualize it but seeing it in person adds a whole new dynamic. See for yourself!

{Looking towards the wall of windows – the siding on this wall has been completed and you can see the stone on the exterior of the fireplace is finished.}

{View of the front entry! The exterior doors are on, the stone on the fireplace is complete and the stone on the pillars by the front door is just beginning.}

{Closeup of the fireplace stone with the siding and windows and all of the trim.}

{We love how all of the colors are working together.}

{View from the inside looking at the front door – we absolutely love the door.}

{Holy drywall! And hello side door! This door goes out to the covered porch and the hot tub.}

{View standing up in the loft looking out on the main wall of windows. It’s so fun to see how bright it is in the house. The drywall was complete with the exception of another round of sanding. The ceilings on the upper level will all be cedar.}

{We brought both kids with us on the trek – Ben loved seeing where the hot tub is going to go. Here is the slab for the hot tub, looking out at the river bluff.}

{My cozy little bear!}

Hannah is Three Months Old!

And just like that our baby girl is a quarter of a year old! Hannah is growing and changing at a rapid pace and it’s hard to keep up with all of her new developments. While I’ve thought Hannah was fun and sweet from day one, I remember Ben starting to really be more fun and engaging around four months, so I have a feeling our sweet girl is only going to get sweeter and more interactive as the days go on.

As a three month old, Hannah weighs 13 pounds 9 ounces and is in the 68th percentile for her weight. We’ll get an updated length at her four month check up.

The biggest update in the last month is that Hannah started sleeping through the night! I think this happened around 10 weeks or so. It’s kept up for a while so we’re hoping it’s a sign of good sleep to come.

A lot of people {mostly strangers!} ask how she sleeps during the day if she sleep through the night already. Usually she takes a short morning nap and is awake and interactive most of the morning, then around 1:00 she typically takes a longer afternoon nap, usually about 2 hours or so, and is awake most of the evening with a cat nap somewhere along the line.

Hannah loves to eat! Usually she grazes {or non-stop eats} from about 6-9 p.m., which seems to fill up her little belly with enough calories to keep her going through the night.

While I haven’t ever taken the time to get Hannah on any sort of a routine, she decided to take matters into her own hands and get herself on one. She really is fairly consistent day-to-day and it has absolutely nothing to do with my intentions or plans. I really wanted her to be flexible – her big brother rules the roost, after all. Hannah is proving she is quite adaptable and happy to give her mama the wonderful gift of sleep.

Typically Hannah falls asleep around 9 in the evening – usually while eating – and sleeps until 6:30 or 7 a.m. I’m sure someday soon we’ll try to get her to have a real bedtime and an evening routine, but for now it’s working so I don’t really want to rock the boat.

Hannah loves to read and look at pictures. She gets so happy and engaged when we look at books together. Her favorite toy {let’s be real – the only toy she has any interest in} is her crinkle paper. She responds really well to a pacifier, which is nice. She doesn’t *have* to have it but she’ll very happily take it if she’s upset or needing comfort.

Developmentally, Hannah is still rolling from tummy to back {I think just one way} and is able to prop herself up more and more each day, it seems. She loves laying on her back on her play mat and batting the toys above her. She has been cooing so so much lately and sometimes I swear she’s actually talking to me.

Hannah continues to be such a dream baby. We are so over the moon with our baby girl!

Another Preschool Update

Our start to the school year has been a bit of a rocky one. A few weeks after Ben started his original preschool we realized it was not the right fit for him so we withdrew. Seattle has a very competitive preschool market and most preschools won’t accept kiddos until they’re 2.5, which Ben is not. Given that, I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to find another spot for him.

Before I even decided to remove him from the original school I contacted his co-op preschool that he went to last year to see if they had space in either of their 2’s classes. They did!

I brought up our unfortunate preschool situation with my moms group and one of the moms said that her daughter’s preschool had an opening. Score! Another mom sent me her massive spreadsheet where she outlined every preschool in the area with her notes from her tours {interestingly, she toured the school we ended up sending Ben to originally and had unfavorable comments}.

I spent a couple weeks doing tours, contacting preschools and trying to use my “spare time” to find another school for Ben. As I was nearing the end of my maternity leave and the return to work I wanted to make sure to find another spot for him to be a big kid and give our au pair a break and some time with just Hannah. It is a LOT to manage Ben and Hannah alone.

My time, networking and connections have paid off. We have officially enrolled Ben in two schools to allow for him to be independent four mornings a week.

Two mornings a week he’ll be at the co-op. Parent involvement at a cooperative school is pretty high. One day the parent stays and “works” at the school and the other day the parent drops the child off for the morning and he’s under the care and instruction of the teacher and half of the other parents. There are jobs and meetings, too, naturally. I was assigned the role of class “sunshine chair” which is a very involved but fun role. Basically, I’ll help foster community among parents and families and arrange playdates and teacher thank you gifts.

The other two mornings a week he’ll be at a different preschool. The other school is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, about a 10-minute drive at that time of day. It’s a super sweet, highly regarded preschool. Ben did a trial date there and we both loved it! He officially began at his new school this week.

It’s not a perfect solution, and both locations aren’t really walkable from our house, which is disappointing. I’ll end up being a lot more involved in drop-offs and attending co-op once a week so I’ll need to balance that with my work schedule. But! We found a workable solution and one where Ben is happy and can thrive.

Maternity Leave

I’m savoring the last bits of my maternity leave as I’m slowly easing back into my job. I officially go back to work on October 22nd. Before I left I promised I’d facilitate some trainings in mid-October, so I’ve already dipped my toes back into the working world.

This maternity leave has been oh so very different from my leave with Ben. Hannah’s leave started right away with a beautiful baby girl coming home from the hospital as a one-day old. Alex took two wonderful weeks off of work to spend with us as we adjusted to life with two. Then, I was on my own with Hannah and Stacey maintained her regular schedule with Ben.

It was so special to have this bonding time with Hannah. She and I have become extremely connected – so much so that she often refuses to be held by anyone else. I will always remember this time so fondly and with tremendous gratitude that I had the opportunity to spend so much time with my baby girl.

We enjoyed our long walks in the late summer sun and savoring those first few crisp and sunny fall days with pumpkin lattes at our daily stop at the coffee shop, we trekked over the mountains to The Lodge four whole times, we made new friends with other mamas and babies and we enjoyed going to a variety of exercise classes together. I’ve been able to read NINE books while on maternity leave! It has been so much fun to get lost in good books. I have a Kindle Paperwhite with a soft back light that makes it so I can read during the middle-of-the-night feedings.

There were challenges, too. Mostly with me being home and around while Ben was there. As time has gone on he has become more and more sweet with wanting to just be with Hannah and me instead of with Stacey. I think it’s hard for him to understand and it’s a sticky dynamic with Stacey. During the day I found I needed to be out of the house if Ben was home, which really complicated my days and my schedule and required me to be quite flexible.

My going back to work is the beginning of several major changes for our family. I’m not feeling super settled right now with our childcare arrangements since we pulled Ben out of preschool. That is making it a little harder on me to go back to work. We’re throwing a huge challenge at our au pair, Stacey, giving her a very hands-on Benjamin, as well as a hands-on newborn. We are working on getting Ben into another preschool {more to come on that in another post} so that Stacey’s primary focus can be on Hannah, at least for part of the day, and Ben can be with other kids his age.

It’s very bittersweet to be leaving Hannah, grabbing my work bag and throwing on a non-mom-on-the-go outfit as I head back to adult life as a mom of two. I’m looking forward to some more adult time, having more opportunities to use both of my hands at the same time, drink coffee while it’s hot, stimulate my brain a bit, have conversations that have nothing to do with negotiating with a toddler and making a difference to people outside of my house. Here’s to a the start of a new chapter!

Building the Lodge: Siding + Drywall Started

I made a trip out to check on The Lodge just over a week ago and was so excited to see some big updates! My dad, a home builder and inspector, was here visiting, and I couldn’t not bring him out to see the house. Even more recently, Alex and I just made a spontaneous trip out to stake out where the hot tub will be located.

{Siding is up halfway!}

{A full wall of siding complete! This will be the final siding color. as well as the trim color.}

Here’s what’s going on at The Lodge:

  • The septic system was installed
  • Siding has begun – I think they’re close to halfway done
  • Trim around the exterior windows was completed
  • Soffit {wood under the roof overhang} installation has been completed
  • Drywall has begun – all of the drywall has been hung – next up: taping and mudding!
  • Fireplace waterproofing and prep for stone on the outside is complete, inside is just beginning
  • The heat is on!!!!

{The kitchen before drywall!}

{The kitchen after drywall! I cannot get over how GORGEOUS the beams are!}

{The drywall really, really changes things on the inside. We love how much the black windows pop! You may notice there is no drywall on the ceiling – all of the ceilings on the roof line will be cedar.}

Unless I’m missing anything the only big decisions we have left to make are the floors, interior paint color(s) and the furniture. Here is a link to my Pinterest board if you’re curious to see some of the furniture we’re going with {note: the colors that show up on the Pinterest board are not necessarily the colors we have selected} or are interested in.

{Lots happening at the house!}

{Can’t get over how beautiful the soffits are!}

We did learn from the builder that we won’t be in until sometime in January. We were disappointed to hear that we’re not able to be there for Christmas, but at least we know now. It’s so fun to see everything happening and see it start to take shape. Alex and I have been lamenting on how we’ve started imagining and picturing ourselves in the house and it is SO fun.

{Front of the house on 10.1.18 – no siding, soffits just beginning – window trim done.}

{Front of the house 10.8.18 – siding is started and soffits are done!}

{Our job for our most recent visit was to select the location for the hot tub slab. Here it is!}

{This will be the view from the hot tub on a cloudy day.}