Toddler Tips

As a way to help guide our au pair and make sure we’re on the same page I took some time to put together a little “toddler tips” basics/manual. Alex suggested sharing it on the blog since we have so many friends with tots, so, here it is, without much adjustment for other people.

Buuuuut, before reading it please know:

  • The purpose of this was for our family and stresses values and discipline models that are important to us. We realize not all of these tips and values align with every other family’s structure.
  • Of course there are hundreds more tips that I didn’t include/think to include. This list is relevant for our family right now and the needs we felt should be addressed. Surely as Ben gets a bit older we’ll add to the list.
  • Our au pair isn’t a fluent English speaker so instead of having her read a book or a bunch of websites I created this as an easy-to-read manual that was specific to our family. That’s the spirit by which this was written.
  • Most of the information, below, is from personal experience; however, some things I learned/tips I got are from The Danish Way of Parenting and parents.com.

Basic Info about Toddlers

Toddlers are trying to figure out the world and become independent little people. Their moods change very quickly as a result of developmental changes and limitations. Their brains are not as developed as adults and they have trouble reasoning, understanding consequences and danger. As their caregivers, we’re responsible for setting fair limits, loving them, keeping them safe and teaching them.

  • Toddlers (and children) are inherently good – they are supposed to push boundaries and test the rules. They’re not trying to misbehave or be manipulative. This is how they learn.
    • Embrace it with patience – it’s fascinating watching a toddler try to figure things out.
  • Toddlers can’t communicate their wants and needs as well as they want to.
    • It’s our job to remain calm and help him explain what he wants.
  • Toddlers don’t understand the concept of time and don’t have much patience.
    • Use this to your advantage and distract him – sing a song, read a book or fill the sink with bubbles.
  • Tots have trouble controlling their emotions. They have very strong emotions and don’t know how to deal with them.
    • Acknowledge that he was having fun in the sandbox and doesn’t want to go home and that it must make him angry. Help him learn label his emotions.
  • Toddlers have trouble switching from one task to the next.
    • Tell him what to expect next – “now we are going to get your hands wet, then we will put soap on them. After we put soap on your hands, we’ll rinse it off and then dry off your hands with a towel.” This teaches coping skills.
  • Toddlers test boundaries to see what they can get away with and what’s acceptable. He’s not trying to be manipulative – he just doesn’t know.
    • Teach him what is okay and what’s not. Be patient when he is testing the limits. It’s how he learns.
  • Tantrums are very normal for toddlers – it is part of how they are figuring out the world.
    • Help him calm down by remaining calm yourself, patting his back, and acknowledging that he must be very upset or disappointed. Don’t give into what he was upset about – talk him through the disappointment. Work through it together.

Our Family’s Philosophy

Above all, our parenting philosophy is pretty simple – we want to provide a nurturing, loving environment for our children to grow up in. We want our kiddos to value themselves and others, be empathetic and hard-working people. We want our children know it’s okay to fail – that’s how we learn.

Empathy: This is a concept that is extremely important to our family. In the US, shaming and judgment are more prevalent than empathy and we are working very hard to be a family that prioritizes empathy and compassion rather than pointing out the flaws in others.

  • See the good in others – pointing out positive traits in people helps us focus on the good and for it to become more natural. “Do you see Shoshana sharing her toy with her brother? She is so sweet. That’s so considerate of her.”
  • If another child is misbehaving or throwing a tantrum mention “maybe he was tired or hungry. Sometimes people get grumpy when they’re hungry or miss their nap.” This avoids negatively labeling another child.
  • Validate his feelings – his feelings may be different than yours. Acknowledge his feelings by saying “I can see that you’re really upset that it’s time to be done painting.”
    • Avoid telling him how he should feel – don’t say “you have nothing to be upset about – stop crying” and instead say “I can tell you’re upset. Can you try to tell me what’s wrong?”
  • Read books about feelings or notice the expressions on other children’s faces in stories or in real life. Talk to Ben about the emotions the characters might be feeling.

Encouragement versus praise: We want Ben to become resilient, strong and well-adjusted. It’s important to us that Ben have a growth mindset, which means that the way he thinks about things and himself can change. For example, if something is difficult, he should practice so he can improve, rather than thinking it’s too hard and he’ll never be able to get it. We also want him to realize that if he does something well it’s because he worked hard, not because he’s smart.

  • Encourage hard work, learning a new skill or trying something by himself.
  • Say, “Wow – you did that all by yourself!”
  • Get his validation: “Look at that painting you did! Do you like it?”
  • Instead of saying “you’re so smart!” (please never say this to Ben!) say “I can tell you have been working really hard at practicing counting. You’re really getting the hang of it!”
  • Avoid saying “Great job!” and instead, focus on the achievement.

Be a role model: model the behavior you want to see. If you want a toddler to calm down, be calm yourself (he’s definitely not going to calm down if you’re angry or worked up!) – crouch down, speak softly and this will show him that he is safe.

Positive attitude: remaining positive, even when your patience is being tested, is a skill that requires practice. This is also a life skill that leads to resilience and hard-work.

  • Be careful about what labels you give a child/toddler (what you say about a child) – labels can stick around forever. Choose positive labels. (Example: Say “he knows what he wants!” Instead of “he is so stubborn!”)

Hugging and affection: it is Ben’s choice if he wants to give someone a hug. Please ask him if it’s okay if you give him a hug. Respect him if he says no.

Basic Tips & Ideas

Provide choices: toddlers (and children of all ages) want to feel like they are in control. Allow them to make some of the choices during the day.

  • Instead of saying “do you want to brush your teeth?” Say, “it’s time to brush your teeth – do you want to use the green toothbrush or the blue toothbrush?”
  • When leaving the park (of course after a warning!) say, “it’s time to go home now. Would you like to carry the bubbles or the chalk?”

Anticipate transitions: changing from one activity to the next can be difficult for tots, especially if they might not like the transition.

  • Explain what is going on and what is going to happen next.
  • Give a warning – “it is almost time to clean up your blocks so we can go have lunch.”
  • He wants and needs to know what to expect will happen next.
  • If you’re taking him away from something fun, be prepared with distractions.
    • If it’s nap time and mom and dad are around, make sure Ben has the opportunity to say good night to mom and dad and that he knows it’s about to be nap time. This will help with the transition.

Set limits: the toddler years are spent figuring out boundaries. Tots need to know what is okay and what is not okay. It’s critical to set limits for them so they can learn.

  • Consistent routines help tots to know what to expect, which makes it easier on everyone.
  • Use “Freeze!” at the park or outside if Ben is running and won’t stop. Tell him to “freeze!”
  • Think of what is good for him, not what he wants/doesn’t want.
  • It is okay to make him wait – this teaches him delayed gratification, patience and that he doesn’t get what he wants when he wants it.

Involve him: getting Ben involved in regular chores, like laundry, selecting his plate for lunch or putting away toys teaches him valuable life skills, including responsibility.

  • Have Ben hand you the silverware when emptying the dishwasher. Bonus: count how many spoons he hands you, etc.
  • Ben can put away his pajamas in the drawer or help sort socks.
  • Have Ben put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket, or put all of his laundry in the washing machine.
  • Make it fun to put away toys – “can you find all of the blue blocks and put those away first?”

Always remain positive: tell him what you want him to do instead of telling him what not to do.

  • Say “please use your fork to eat your broccoli” instead of “stop banging on the table with your fork.”
  • Instead of simply saying “no” or “stop it” tell him what you want him to do.
  • Any attention to behavior is attention, even if it’s negative. Focus on the positive.

Creative play: one of the best ways for Ben to learn is by playing. It is our goal to provide new opportunities for him to explore the world.

  • Go outside! Jump in puddles, look for worms or ants on the sidewalk, play in the shade if it’s hot, wear mittens if it’s cold and warm up with some hot chocolate or steamed/warm milk. Play outside every single day.
  • Get messy – of course be smart about this and don’t ruin clothes/rugs/anything in the house, but it’s okay for Ben to stir flour into cookie dough and make a mess; it’s okay for his hands or his face to get muddy or covered in paint (washable paint, soap and washing machines were invented for a reason!).
  • Try something new:
    • Let Ben touch and feel different things – get a small empty box and fill it with sand or shaving cream or bubbles and water or dried pasta or ice.
    • Practice learning colors by getting different colored paper (example: red, yellow and blue paper) and corresponding toys (example: red, yellow and blue blocks) and having Ben put all of the blue toys onto the blue paper.
    • Paint with a fork or a cotton swab or your hands instead of a paintbrush.
    • Play sorting games – put all of the teddy bears in one pile and the stuffed dogs in another (group different animals, shapes, colors, sizes, etc.)
    • Trace shapes with cookie cutters.
    • Find creative ways to practice counting, the ABCs and learning colors and shapes.

Talk!: Explain everything and talk, talk, talk. Tell him what you’re doing, point out something on a walk, ask if he sees the bird flying out the window. This helps him build his vocabulary. Talk to him all day long. Especially in Spanish!

Read!: Read to Ben every single day. As much as you can. Tell him what’s going on in the pictures. Ask him to point to different things in the pictures. This helps him build his vocabulary.

Fun Family Weekend

It was so nice to have a low-key, stress-free weekend together as a family. We so love our time together and we savored some special moments this last weekend, just the three of us.

Alex and I started the weekend with our Valentine’s dinner {a couple days late!} at Vendemmia, our favorite restaurant in our neighborhood. The food and the company was wonderful. We had a really, really nice night and are looking forward to our next date night.

The weather on Saturday morning left much to be desired and we had no agenda. Quick thinking led us to the Museum of Flight. We had been wanting to take Ben there because he’s obsessed with airplanes, so this weekend proved to be the perfect time.

He’s definitely at the minimum age where a kid would get much from the museum, and I think he really enjoyed it. He got to sit in a few retired airplanes, push a lot of buttons all over the place, color a picture of a rocket, run up the aisle of a passenger airplane and check out airplanes spanning all the decades since the Wright brothers brought us airplanes. And he got to pick out an airplane key chain for his special keys {no kidding – his favorite toy is his own set of keys}.

During the weekends it’s nice to take family walks with Jackson – it’s a bit more challenging for us all to do that during the week. Lately Ben has been less and less interested in spending much time in his stroller, so that’s interesting. He requested “walk” when we were at the turnaround point of our walk {i.e. the farthest point from home}. Alex decided to oblige and Ben walked the rest of the way home {ten blocks} and split the walk by helping mama push the stroller or running alongside dada.

Our evening on Saturday was really nice, too – we went over to our neighbor’s house for dinner. They have a four month-old boy and we really, really enjoy them. Ben was super sweet with their baby and was rocking him in his little chair, smiling at him and pointing out his body parts. It was so fun to see him interacting so sweetly with another baby. We’re so excited for him to be a big brother!

The weekend wrapped up with a little trip to the mountains to enjoy some crisp, sunny weather. We went cross country skiing and spent some time playing in the snow. Of course Ben had the opportunity to do some skiing of his own, too.

We stopped for lunch at a cute restaurant on the way home, then curled up in mama and dada’s bed with Jackson and Henry {!!!} for a family nap. Despite the fact that Ben woke up with a little fever it was a very wonderful weekend with our little family.

Meal Kit Delivery

On a whim I decided to try one of those meal kit delivery services. They’re all the rage and they seem kind of fun and provides a perfect opportunity to get outside my comfort zone and try something new, plus I wasn’t feeling particularly creative in the menu planning department, so, here we are…

I opted to give Sun Basket a try for my first attempt. There are SO many to choose from – I went with Sun Basket because they seem to specialize in more local, sustainable, fresh and organic ingredients, which are all really important to me. I’m still learning the differences between the other options, so please enlighten me if you have tried other boxes that you’ve liked {and feel free to send me your referral codes!}

My meal kits arrived on Wednesday {Valentine’s Day} – I was so excited to open the boxes and see what was in there. Sun Basket allows you to choose the meals you’d like to receive – so I knew ultimately what to expect but I was curious what the packaging and contents would be like. One of the perks of these kits is that all of the ingredients arrive and everything is pre-portioned and you only get what you need for the meal.

I ordered meals for four people for four days and it was a lot of food – I was overwhelmed unpacking the boxes. It took a while unpacking everything, breaking down the boxes and getting it organized. There are tons of individual packages {especially since I ordered meals for four people – I essentially got two kits each for two people – so twice the packaging} which really messes with my organizational system.

Our first meal that we made was chilaquiles! I was excited to add that to our menu – I had never tried it before, and Alex, having spent a lot of time in real Mexico, has tried and loves chilaquiles. It’s commonly served for breakfast in Mexico, but we opted to make it for dinner.

The meal prep itself was really straightforward – slightly easier than if I would have made it totally on my own since everything was already portioned out. I still had to chop the veggies, but everything else was done for me. The instructions were really clear and easy to follow and the cook times were accurate {which seems to seldom be the case}.

The final product was great, I thought! Alex said they definitely weren’t authentic, but he really liked them. Gelys didn’t share her opinion but I saw her adding a looooot of hot sauce to them. Ben seemed to love them – he loves black beans, tomatoes, chips, cheese and eggs, so it’s kind of the perfect dish for him.

We’ve got three more meals this week from Sun Basket, then I ordered another smaller delivery of only two meals {for four people} for later this week – I’m excited to see how they compare. In a couple weeks we’ll be trying Blue Apron, so it will be fun to see how the two kits differ.

Pregnancy Update: First Trimester Recap

In case you missed it – we just shared some big news: Ben is going to be a big brother this summer! His little brother or sister is due to arrive on August 8th. We are so excited to have another little one around and for Ben to have a sibling! If baby #2 arrives on time, Ben and his brother/sister will be 26 months apart.

Life has been a liiiiittle crazy lately – it turns out it’s rather exhausting being pregnant with a very active toddler, especially when it’s coupled with hosting the holidays and going through a major childcare transition.

I found out I was pregnant pretty early on and very quickly the pregnancy symptoms started to appear. I was probably only 5 or 5 and a half weeks before the nausea set in and by 8 weeks it was full-blown morning sickness combined with sheer exhaustion. There was about a week where I was completely out of commission, couldn’t eat and felt absolutely miserable. A quick call to the doctor turned it around, though. It seemed like all of the pregnancy symptoms peaked around 8-9 weeks and have sloooooowly subsided since then. This week {15} I feel almost normal – thank you second trimester!!

So far my food preferences have been all over the place. They were pretty regular until around 7 or 8 weeks and thankfully I made it through our prime rib feast on Christmas without feeling averse to anything I prepared. I didn’t have chicken for about two months because it grossed me out. Ice cream is heavenly. I’ve been really excited about feta cheese and plain sparkling water, as opposed to flavored. Coffee has been hit-or-miss {I went almost 2 weeks without having coffee during the rough part!}, and sweet things have been sounding very good. Cereal is great – I wake up in the morning and first thing, have a bowl of cereal with my vitamin B6 {anti-nausea}. Thanks to my new blender I’ve been making smoothies every morning – such a great way to start the day! No crazy cravings or anything like that {yet?}.

{Definitely showing a bit more at 14 weeks than I was with Ben! This photo also makes me look quite a bit more pregnant than I normally look…}

This pregnancy is still considered high-risk because of the complications I had with my pregnancy with Ben. I’m under the care of a group of perinatologists {high-risk pregnancy doctors}, and conveniently, their clinic is very close to our house. This is the same group that I received care from in the end of my pregnancy with Ben. I will have an ultrasound at least every 4 weeks for the whole pregnancy and it seems like an appointment with a doctor at least every 2 weeks. Per the recommendations of the doctors, I started taking baby Aspirin at 12 weeks, as it can help with the blood flow to the placenta.

{15 weeks – again this makes me look way more pregnant than I think I actually look. At 15 weeks I can still fit into my pre-pregnancy pants, though we’re definitely nearing the end of that. I’ve started wearing some maternity tops, mostly because they’re more flattering at this point than non-maternity fitted tops.}

I’ve had two great ultrasounds so far {8 and 12 weeks} and the baby looks great and even looks a little big! It would be so funny to have two kids on opposite ends of the size spectrum. My next ultrasound is at the end of the month and we expect we’ll be able to find out the gender of the baby.

We are very excited about the pregnancy and can’t wait to see Ben as a big brother. He is just the sweetest. Our fingers are crossed that the pregnancy goes full-term and is free of complications and without NICU time. Stay tuned for more updates along the way!

Wintertime

This winter has been rather different than I expected. When I pictured the winter I imagined we’d be heading up to the mountains most weekends and spending a lot of time in the snow. I expected the winter to fly by, as it always seems to do for us. Oftentimes the winter months are the busiest of the whole year for Alex and me.

Winter is nearing the end and we’ve hardly been up to the mountains. We’ve gone cross country skiing twice {both times in the rain} and every other time we’ve wanted to go it was raining so we made other plans. It has been an exceptionally rainy January in Seattle so we have been a little cooped up. Thankfully now that we’re into February, the weather has started to turn.

We have been creative this season with getting out and doing things with friends, going to the pool, the zoo or the aquarium, or even embracing the rain and putting Ben’s rain boots on so he can go jump in the puddles. Puddle jumping brings Ben so much joy – and sadly, I don’t have any pictures to memorialize it! We’ve even been creative with our activities at home – Alex filled up the sink with water, bubbles and silicone muffin cup liners and Ben was entertained for quite a while. We’ve been doing art projects, baking and teaching Ben how to vacuum…

Most of our toddler parent friends are also going a little stir crazy, but we all enjoyed some reprieve from the rain this weekend when the sun finally came out! Alex and Ben spent Saturday with three other tots and their dads and enjoyed a tour of a fire station. We met my cousin and his family up at the playground this morning and camped out there, watching the three kids eat sand, play with trucks and giggle their way down the slide.

We are about to start week six with our au pair. It took us quite a while to get into a good rhythm amidst the childcare transition, but I think we’re about there. There ended up being a lot more hands-on training than we had anticipated, and the language barrier is quite prevalent. But! The other day, Ben was counting in Spanish. It was one of the coolest parenting experiences I’ve had yet – he was counting in Spanish. All by himself. I was floored. I still am floored!

All in all, we are having a very memorable winter and we are making the most of these rainy Seattle days with our rambunctious toddler {and looking forward to sunshine in the forecast this week!}.

Ben is 20 Months Old!

Where is the time going!?! Our kiddo is really turning into a little boy. It is so fun to watch and he is just the sweetest thing ever. He’s starting to really look and act like a little boy – I’m excited to share what he’s up to!

Ben’s 20-month stats:

  • Weight: 23 pounds, 5 ounces {10th percentile}
  • Number of teeth: 10 {seems like he’s getting at least 2 more right now}
  • Clothing size: 18-24 months in most tops, still 18m in bottoms for the most part – if he grows any taller he’ll jump to 2T
  • Shoe size: 5 {toddler size}
  • Favorite foods: B has been a carb hound lately and he always loves cheese. He got back on the banana bandwagon {finally! a fruit!} recently too. I’d say his favorite veggie right now is broccoli.
  • Favorite activities: peek-a-boo is turning into hide-and-seek, chasing Jackson or Henry around the house, being tickled, swimming, painting or coloring, closing doors, vacuuming and puddle jumping.

I wasn’t sure I’d have much of an update since my 19-month update was only two weeks ago. It’s amazing, though, how much Ben has changed in two weeks. His verbal skills are getting so much sharper – he’s really starting to string together 2-word sentences, like “more please” or “hi dada” and he’ll repeat common sentences we say, like “put it down” or “want some cheese.” Yesterday when Alex sneezed in the other room, he said “bless you!” Additionally, he is becoming more clear to understand.

One of my favorite things that we’ve noticed recently is that Ben is starting to share more what he’s thinking about. He’ll randomly say something and that will clue us into the fact that it’s on his mind. The other day after we had seen the pool at the YMCA he started talking about swimming and continued to talk about it for a few days. I took that to mean he wanted to go for a swim… so we did!

It’s really fun to start hearing the associations he’s making with different things, too. We were talking about My Gym and telling Alex about it {My Gym is his little tumbling program} and I asked if he did “see saw” {a song}, and then he said “Claire” and “Patrick” – one of the other kids and the teachers there. It’s pretty cool to see these developments emerge.

Earlier in the month, Alex took Ben to school and it happened to be our week for clean-up duty. The school has play vacuums that are available for the kids to play with while their parents are cleaning up. Alex realized how much Ben loved the vacuum and came home and ordered one for Ben. Now, Ben has a tot size version of the exact same vacuum that we have! He LOVES pushing it around the house and quickly figured out he needs to “turn it off…battery” {turn it off so the battery doesn’t die} when he’s done playing with it. This also makes it easier to vacuum the house because he can follow along and be a helper. It’s adorable!

Ben is becoming such an independent, mature eater! Really, he’s always been an independent eater, but now he has stepped up his game with a fork and spoon and prefers eating with utensils. He’s got the fork down pat and is working on transferring food from his plate to his mouth with a spoon while keeping the food on the spoon.

We’ve been working on counting and colors lately, and we sing the ABCs a lot. Ben actually seems to be getting the hang of counting, which is so cool, but colors are lost on him for the most part. Either that or he is color blind, which I actually expect him to be…. Everything is “yellow” no matter what color it is, but this morning he pointed to something pink and said “pink” – so maybe he’s figuring it out?

Our au pair, Gelys, has been speaking to Ben in Spanish a bit and I’m realizing he’s starting to pick up a few dual-language words. He knows “casa” {house}, “queso” {cheese} and “agua” {water} to my knowledge – probably a few more. We are hoping to send Ben to a Spanish language immersion preschool in the fall.

Our little guy is such a blast to be around. His personality is so super sweet and we absolutely adore him! I hope we can get a video one of these days of him saying “love you” so we can remember that sweet voice forever and ever.

Extended Family Photo Shoot

Rewind a month to the height of the holidays and enjoy some photos of our extended family enjoying each other’s time together, just before Christmas…… A huge thanks to our family photographer, Kim Hildebrand, for beautifully capturing a few special moments between Ben, Nico and their grandparents, as well as Nico and his parents. Oh, and please excuse Ben’s frowny face. He was awaken just before Kim arrived and thrown into a photo shoot. And he is his father’s son, after all.

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Ben is 19 Months Old!

Well, actually he’s already 19 1/2 months old… I’m a little late but I really wanted to document the milestone! I wish we could freeze this time with him. It is just so so fun. I say that every month, but he is getting sweeter and sweeter by the day and we just adore this little boy so much. I can’t bear to imagine him growing up and not being such a mama’s boy anymore.

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Ben’s stats:

  • Weight: 22 pounds 11 ounces {~ 7th percentile}
  • Height: won’t get an official height until he turns TWO but we think he went through a growth spurt recently
  • Number of teeth: 9 + 1/3 of his bottom front tooth is poking through FINALLY! {he has the top four, bottom two and three molars – so funny!}
  • Clothing size: 18-24 months in most brands on top + jammies! Still 12-18m in pants. I finally put away almost all of the 12-18 month stuff – he got too tall!
  • Shoe size: big kid has broken out and is now in tot size 5 and {sad mama tear} size 2T-4T socks!
  • Favorite foods: apple sauce, mac & cheese, cheese, crackers, sausage, egg nog
  • Favorite activities: climbing, getting into mischief, flushing the toilet, closing doors, turning on/off lights, taking his shirt off, climbing into his chair and reading a book, going down the slide, reading, watching whatever mom/dad are doing, chasing the cat, dancing, greeting people.

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The day-to-day differences have stopped being as significant as they were for probably the first 15 or so months. Now, it’s so fun watching him build on his skills. He practices things, like pronouncing words correctly, the proper way to use a fork, also the improper way to use a fork {drumstick or javelin}, the best way to climb up the ladder on his slide, how to take off his shirt, etc.

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Ben is a full-blown toddler these days. He’s becoming more independent all the time and he is so so curious. He wants to be involved and included in everything. Completely on his own he started helping Alex empty the dishwasher one morning – he walked over, grabbed a piece of silverware, handed it to Alex and repeated until he had emptied the whole silverware rack. He’s becoming an expert at loading the washing machine, too. Sometimes {this is still rare} he will help pick up his toys – we’re really working on that one! Another big one: he wants to WALK up and down the stairs!!!

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I have been having so much fun baking with Ben. He loves to stir and be involved however he can. Sometimes when I’m cooking dinner Alex will stand next to me, holding Ben, so he can watch. He’ll say “see” and point when he wants to be involved. It’s adorable and chaotic and messy, but it’s just the best. These memories….
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I’ve been saying for months how sweet Ben is becoming and he keeps getting sweeter and sweeter! He’s turned into quite the hugger and he’s actually a great hugger. He hugs nice big, tight, long hugs and it is precious! I can’t get enough of his hugs. He’s started kissing too – very, very rarely though.

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Ben is talking up a storm. It is so fun. He’s started stringing together two-word sentences. On a rare occasion he’ll say “please” or “thank you” without being asked! We’re estimating his vocabulary has exceeded 100 words at this point, so I’m done guessing how many words he knows. He’s repeating more and more parts of a sentence that we say – he used to pick out one word to repeat and now he’s trying to repeat the whole thing or a bigger chunk of it. We’ve started to work on colors and numbers – SO FUN!

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I think Ben made it 2.5 months without getting sick – that’s a huge deal to us, especially during the fall portion of cold/flu season. He went until the very end of December being healthy! Then he got the stomach flu, had a day where he was back to normal and eating again and then got a horrible cough, which he’s still getting over. He’s eating now, though, so that means he’s feeling better.

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One of my favorite memories from recently was taking Ben to run errands with me. Such a mundane, everyday task, but we had a blast. He is so fun to be out and about with. We started at Starbucks so mama could get some coffee and a breakfast sandwich, because why not? I got him a little chocolate milk, which he had never had before, and he loved it! Obviously. We were talking the whole time and he helped me pick out things at Target, then at Costco he helped push the cart through the entire store, we sampled all of the things and then shared a smoothie {PSA – the smoothies at Costco’s food court have my stamp of approval!} and he helped me load everything into the car. It was a really special day.

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We’ve started cross country skiing now that there’s enough snow in the mountains. Ben has his little chariot that he rides in and seems to really enjoy it! He’s gotten into “downhill” skiing too. I can’t WAIT to actually see him learn how to ski.

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Well, here’s to another great two and a half weeks before we’ve got a 20-month old tot! 🙂

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Transitions

These last few weeks have been filled with transitions for our little family. It’s been a very busy time filled with “hellos” and “goodbyes” and lots of fun in between. Just before Christmas we said “see you later” to our beloved nanny, Edina, who moved across the country to the Big Apple.

{Edina became well-known in our group of friends and quickly got to know all of Ben's buddies in town.}

{Edina became well-known in our group of friends and quickly got to know all of Ben’s buddies in town.}

Edina had been Ben’s nanny since he was about 12 weeks old and was essentially his third parent. We were all devastated when she left. The same day that Edina moved, Alex’s family arrived for Christmas. That proved to be a very welcome distraction for us all! Since then, it’s been great to be able to keep in touch and we’ve loved FaceTime so that we can all still talk with Edina. We are all still adjusting to life after Edina.

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The holidays were filled with wonderful memories from Alex’s family’s trip, then my dad’s visit around New Years, a round of the stomach flu for Ben {ughhhhhh} and some time in the mountains. We had such a nice time with our family, though it was hard to say goodbye when their trips came to an end. More transitions!

{Sorry dad, I know you were not happy I took a picture with Ben using the iPad with you, but I think it's adorable!}

{Sorry dad, I know you were not happy I took a picture with Ben using the iPad with you, but I think it’s adorable!}

After everyone said their goodbyes we welcomed a babysitter to our house for our “in between” week. She had watched Ben before, so she was a familiar face, but another transition nonetheless.

{My dad with my cousin, Chris, and his son, Henry, who is 2 1/2.}

{My dad with my cousin, Chris, and his son, Henry, who is 2 1/2.}

Finally, at the end of last week we were preparing for the arrival of our new au pair, Gelys {it’s pronounced like “yell-ous”}, who was coming to live with us for at least a year from Panama.

Maybe you heard about the big snow storm on the east coast last week – well, the timing of Gelys’s arrival perfectly coincided with the mess out there. Gelys had to fly into New York for an au pair training through the agency. The problem was that she couldn’t get there! Her arrival was delayed, and then the day she was scheduled to leave New York, JFK flooded and her flight was delayed significantly. She was supposed to arrive in Seattle on Saturday but didn’t make it until 3 a.m. on Monday!

This week has been very, very hectic, exhausting and filled with new experiences for all of us as Gelys is learning about our family, about Ben, practicing English and figuring out how we do things both in our house but also in America, not to mention getting her bearings and learning what in the world there is to do with Ben around town {and how to get around town!}.

The challenges have been significant. Ben was/still is sick {he had a horrible cough and was a disaster for the first three days}, and Alex and I had to balance working and bringing Gelys up to speed at the same time, Ben is in a suuuper mama’s boy phase right now and it’s just plain difficult training a new caregiver.

There have been several logistical details we’ve been navigating, too. We are still working through our to do list – a new SIM card was in order so that her phone worked, as was a rain coat {!}, we’re working to add her to our car insurance, get her a bank account and social security number and make sure she has all of the personal items and clothing that she needs to be comfortable. We’re planning a little “touristy” Saturday to show her some of the hot spots in Seattle and practice taking the bus.

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Finally, on Thursday, Gelys had her first official day with Ben {Alex or I was with her all the time for her first three days, per the guidelines of the agency} and it went really well! They navigated the bus, went to Ben’s new music class, which he apparently loved, and had a fun time playing together. She’s doing great with him – he warmed up to her right away and she’s super sweet with him and is trying very, very hard. I love hearing her speak in Spanish with Ben {and Alex has been loving the practice, too!}. Whew!

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We chose to fill our childcare needs with an au pair because we loved the idea of learning about another culture and having Ben exposed not only to culture, but to a native Spanish-speaker from such an early age. We loved having Edina live with us and that made it very exciting to us to have an au pair.