Happy Easter

Happy Easter from our little quarantined crew!

Ben was SO excited about Easter this year, in particular, the concept of the Easter Bunny. He asked a bajillion questions and wanted to know every little thing about the famous rabbit. I just love seeing his enthusiasm and his curiosity. We enjoyed watching a video of someone reading the book The Story of the Easter Bunny.

Before bed Ben insisted on setting out some water, carrots and strawberries {!??} for the Easter Bunny, along with a blanket and some stuffies in case he was tired and wanted to take a rest. The stuffies were vital so he’d have something to cuddle with. This sweet boy’s heart is enormous.

Our little eager beaver awoke at 3 in the morning and couldn’t contain his excitement. He shook me awake telling me “MAMA! I found a blue Easter egg hiding on the stairs! It had one, two Cheddar Bunnies inside!” Dear goodness Benjamin. Go back to sleep!

{Hannie was less than thrilled to be awake and doing stuff right away!}

I love doing Easter baskets for the kids. I think it’s a fun way to get a few new activities for spring. Generally I like to do books, a stuffie, and a couple of outdoor toys. I’m pretty conservative when it comes to Easter candy. This year, though, most of my gifts were delayed in their arrival so the baskets were basically just books.

Ben and I ended up spending close to an hour sitting on the couch reading his new books. It was really special. I love children’s books and now that he’s getting older it has been fun to find books with more of a story line.

Here are some of the books we read and loved on Easter morning:

We had a lovely day spent enjoying each other’s company. We didn’t really have a big or special Easter meal this year, though for breakfast I did make incredible cream biscuits for ham, egg and biscuit sandwiches. For dinner we had creamy ham tortellini.

I’ve been doing a lot of baking with the kids and today we made carrot cake cupcakes {note: I detest coconut, so I swapped the coconut for more carrots, and added some chopped pecans}.

These were an absolute hit. I mean, anything underneath cream cheese frosting is bound to be a winner. The kids got sprinkles in their Easter baskets {thanks for the idea, Sarah!} and couldn’t wait to decorate their special cupcake.

While Easter this year was very unusual for many people, for us, it honestly wasn’t that different than it was last year, or otherwise would have been. We did what we love most – spent the holiday with our family, enjoying nature. Happy Easter and happy spring!

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 5

It is hard to believe we’ve been in solitude for more than four weeks now. In some ways it really feels like forever, but it has flown by. Time is moving in a really strange way right now.

Ben has started referring to the mountain house as “home” and saying things like “when we used to live in Seattle” or “our small house.”

While there are so many emotions going on in all of us, I imagine, one thing I’m dreading is telling Ben about all the things that won’t be happening in the coming months. I don’t expect he’ll return to school this spring {how could he?} and gosh, I’m wondering if the pools and beaches might not open this summer. A friend of mine was given the advice by a physician to write off the rest of the year.

This week we celebrated my 34th birthday. Alex and the kids made the day very special for me, despite having limited options. The kids and I baked really delicious cupcakes that only use one stick of butter and minimal ingredients.

Throughout the duration of our time here at The Lodge I’ve been focusing on gratitude, being the light for others and being in the moment as often as possible. I have been absolutely loving the time with my children and husband. Additionally, I have been feeling really proud of how resourceful I’ve been with food.

We made it 15 days without replenishing our food supply. That was my goal, and honestly, we could have made it a little farther, but I didn’t want to go to the store on the weekend and I was starting to get stressed out about running out of flour completely.

We’ve been baking a ton. The kids have both been very into it and they’re actually helpful, sometimes more than others. Sure, it takes twice, or three times, as long but what else are we doing right now?

I stocked up on long-lasting produce, like apples, sweet potatoes, clementines, carrots, etc. and every one of the 15 days we had some type of fresh produce. The last few days we pulled out some frozen or canned fruit and on night 14 we had frozen vegetables, though we still did have a sweet potato in the pantry.

I did venture out to the store on Friday morning at 6 a.m. and was successful in finding flour {!!}. Surprisingly, they also had disinfecting wipes in stock. They even had some store-brand toilet paper, though we’ve got plenty so I left that for others.

I felt that the other shoppers were very respectful of the 6 foot parameters, but I was outraged to see almost no store employees wearing gloves or masks. It ended up being a four hour affair for me, from the time I left to the time the last item was put away. This includes 50 minutes of driving, getting gas, taking a shower immediately upon my return and wiping down and putting away all of the items. I did wash all the produce before putting it away.

I’m feeling so grateful and have so much admiration for the people who are showing up in public to continue to do their jobs and provide services and goods for the rest of us. That’s true bravery.

Anyway enough about the pandemic – back to Lodge Life 🙂 The kids are great. We had a really, really good week. Ben was in a terrific mood all week and made some stellar choices. He has been loving this reusable sticker pad and we’ve had a blast playing soccer outside.

Ben and Hannah are starting to play together quite a lot and it’s just the absolute sweetest. Hannah is such a good listener and if Ben asks her calmly she’ll share just about anything with him.

We’re about to start potty training Hannie. I said this as sort of a joke at the beginning of our time here but now I guess we’re going forward with it. I need to wrap my brain around my approach because it’s going to be different than it was with Ben…. Maybe we’ll start this week? I’m not sure!

This week one of the highlights for me was talking with the kids about starting a vegetable garden. We made a {very long} list of fruits and veggies they want to grow, which I’ve scaled back on quite a bit. There’s a local farm that is doing online ordering and curbside, contact-less pickup right now that we’ll get some garden starts from.

Thanks to my farmer friend, Kelsey, and the adorable books We Are the Gardeners and Eating the Alphabet we’ve come up with a loose plan and I ordered a raised bed for some of the veggies. I’ll do some herbs in a pot that I already have. I’m still not sure about strawberries but I want to make that happen for Ben since he was so excited about the prospect. We’re going to have a blast with this and I love the life experience and educational value it provides.

One very small project we’ve had going on has been to make Ben’s “mountain room” a little more personal for him. When we designed the house we really weren’t sure how the sleeping arrangements would look for the kids, nor did we expect we’d actually be up here as often as we are. Certainly we didn’t expect to move up here for a couple/few months. Ben has been sleeping in the room that is normally reserved for Alex’s parents when they’re here.

We decided to get a few extra sets of sheets to make the room feel a little more special for Ben. When we asked what he wanted on his sheets his response was: rainbows, mountains, trees and houses. I have no idea how but I managed to find some sheets that met his criteria and his little mountain room has become so cozy.

We enjoyed sticking close to home this weekend with some work on the yard. Alex has been working to clear out the brush and downed trees in the forest on our property. It’s really coming along!

Here’s to another week in quarantine… our current “stay home” orders are through May 4th, so it looks like we’ll be here for quite some time. Sending our love to wherever you’re reading this. We hope this finds you well, and I hope you find this Instagram post as beautiful as I did:

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 4

We’re at the start of our fourth week out here at The Lodge. We are doing well and hoping for the same of anyone reading this.

We have been making the most of the constantly changing weather and we have been practically living outside. This is what “homeschool” looks like in our house:

{The kids were making “berry pies” out of dirt.}

My main goals with the kids for this time is for them to just play and be kids. I want them to run and jump and climb and get dirty and explore and simply enjoy nature.

Both kids have been having a blast on their bikes. We have Ben’s pedal bike and balance bike here. Over the weekend we took off Ben’s training wheels, so he’s officially riding a two-wheeler now!

Hannah just wants to do everything Ben does, so she’s been eager to ride the balance bike. It’s been fun to see her get closer to being able to push off and ride it on her own.

We had a few organized activities last week. My favorite was making our rainbows. Perhaps you’ve heard that kids in northern Italy painted rainbows and hung them in their windows and wrote “andra tutto bene” which means “everything will be okay.” Our rainbows are hanging in our kitchen window and they certainly brighten my day.

Hannah inspired our water pouring station one afternoon. She had been pouring Jackson’s water from one bowl to the next so I figured I’d give both of them a chance to practice pouring. Plus, they’d do anything to play with water.

I grabbed a big plastic container, some measuring cups, a couple mugs and some disposable travel coffee cups and added warm water and bubbles and voila!

One of the themes of our week last week was MESS. Dear goodness there was some type of explosion of food in the house every day. It’s hard to say if the worst was the chili powder that Hannah dumped all over the rug or the cup of party mix Ben threw across the floor.

One element I have been enjoying while being holed up is the challenge to be more resourceful. At the time of writing this it’s been 11 days since I’ve been grocery shopping. Sure, we’re out of all of our fresh fruits and bread, but we’re making do with what we have and I’m really trying to make it to 14 days.

We’ve been baking a lot and I have been able to make more creative dinners using the ingredients we have on hand. It’s been a fun challenge to make sure we minimize our waste. I didn’t want to waste our brown butter rice krispy bars so I took one for the team and ate at least 90% of them myself in a matter of about 30 hours.

There has been an abundance of family time and I am loving the privilege of spending these days with both of my children. It’s extra special having Alex home during the day. The kids love when he pops up for lunch or can take a 20-minute break and play with them.

The passage of time feels so strange right now. Each day goes by really fast and things that happened just a week ago feel like it was months ago. So much has changed, yet so much remains the same for us in our already isolated life up here. We remain tremendously grateful for all that we do have right now.

Lodge Life: Family Photos

Family photos always bring me tremendous joy. This most recent photo shoot is one of the most special ones to date. With all that’s happening in the world right now I am exceptionally grateful we have these recent family photos that captured our first big family trip to The Lodge. A huge thanks, as always to Kim Hildebrand, for the beautiful photos, and for my mother in-law for arranging this.

So much love and gratitude from our family to yours.

Lodge Life: Family Visit

Before our worlds were turned upside down Alex’s family came out to The Lodge for a visit. Now with the state of things we feel extremely fortunate this visit was able to happen. Alex’s parents, his sister and her husband and their two kids, Nico and Marco, came for their first big family trip together. It’s only been three weeks since they left but it feels like it was so much longer than that.

Alex and I had been looking forward to this for months. This is what we had been picturing when we were imagining our life at The Lodge. It’s special enough when the grandparents come or our kids’ uncles, or our friends, but to have our nephews here was an absolute dream. It is really hard to be so far away from them and we just hope that “the cousins” can spend as much time together as possible.

Our time together was really special. We went into things without much of a game plan and wanted to just spend time together. And that we did!

Alex and I got to sneak away one nap time for a ski date!

Donna also hired our family photographer to come do a photo shoot one morning. I’ll share those pictures in a separate post.

Being surrounded by our extended family at The Lodge is something we will continue to look back on with fond memories. We’re so grateful for this time together, and for Alina and Alberto to travel with their two little ones to come and see us. We can’t wait for the next visit together!

Lodge Life: Quarantine Week 3

Here we are at the beginning of our third week in quarantine out here at The Lodge. In particular, my mood remains one of tremendous gratitude. I’m focusing my energy on finding joy and savoring the family time.

It’s overwhelming reading the news right now; however, I am finding it so heartwarming hearing stories of communities coming together to support one another during this time. I do hope this will be our finest hour.

Back to The Lodge… the kids and I had a fun week together while Alex continued to work remotely. We’ve been so fortunate to enjoy abundant sunshine all week, which ended up melting away all the snow on our property.

It feels like we’re getting into a really good routine and I have to imagine that is helping everyone know what to expect on some level. We still talk about what day it is and what we’re going to do and I’m trying to come up with something fun for the kids to look forward to.

A few things have been incorporated into our routine that have been helpful. My favorite has been my “mama move” time, which I’ve dubbed “stroller snack” to the kids. They now enjoy their morning snack in the stroller {happy to let them eat all the crackers they want!} while I can walk the dog and get a little exercise. I enjoyed two runs in this week pushing the two kids in the stroller and managing the dog, then another one on my own this weekend.

We love to visit the chickens, turkeys and horses on our street and Ben comes up with a new question about the horses every day. I know virtually nothing about horses, so we’re doing a lot of looking things up… Side note, we watched a video last week about how to milk a cow, per Ben’s inquiry on how the milk comes from the cow to his glass. A three-year old’s curiosity is so precious.

This week we’ve been sticking very close to home. As the pandemic rattles the world more and more each day I’ve been less comfortable going out.

I have not subscribed to the “homeschooling” phenomenon sweeping the country. I have two toddlers at very different developmental stages, one of whom is used to no structure or instruction. We’re under enough stress right now and I’m not interested in adding to it.

What I am subscribed to is providing a fun, nurturing environment for my two children where they can run, play and explore. They can imagine, discover and create, all on their own with a little support and a lot of engagement from me.

The weather has been amazing out here for our whole stay, so we’ve basically been outside. The forecast isn’t quite as great for this week, so we may employ a few more creative ideas.

Ben’s school began putting together remote learning last week. They’ll send a “morning meeting” and “movement” video, along with some extended learning suggestions and some coloring sheets. This week Ben gets to join a “Zoom” video conference with his teacher and a couple of his classmates. It has been extremely heartwarming to see these videos and still be able to connect to Ben’s school.

Alex has been working remotely, which has been a mixed bag for him. It’s very difficult to work from home when you have two young children, and especially when your kids aren’t used to you working from home. We made a few adjustments, and surely more will come, to make sure Alex can focus on work during the day. Now he’s downstairs in the bunk room where he’s a little farther removed than he was up in the loft.

Since he’s been working all day, Alex has missed out on a lot of our adventures. One morning last week Alex woke up and headed for the mountain pass to do a little skiing. The resorts have been closed for a while, so he brought his skins and skinned up, skied down and came home. This weekend he took some time to himself to start cleaning up the yard and began a big burn pile.

Shortly after California shut down I decided it was probably wise to venture out to the grocery store and do a big two-week stock up. I managed to find just about everything I had hoped, with the exception of flour. The store I went to was completely out. Overall, the selection was rather limited for many items, but I was able to find something suitable.

Alex is venturing back to our house for a day or so to take care of the lawn, make sure Henry is doing okay {we’ve made care arrangements for him} and collect some nice-to-have items. At this point it seems as though we’ll be here for quiiiite a while.

Hannah is 20 Months Old!

Our little spitfire is acting more and more like a little girl every day. She’s really starting to look the part too with her long curly hair. Occasionally she’ll even let me put it up in a little pointy pigtail.

Hannah’s 20-Month Stats:

  • Weight: 26 pounds, 6 oz {88th percentile – as of 1/22}
  • Length: 32 inches {60th percentile – as of 1/22}
  • Clothing size: anything new is 2T
  • Shoe size: toddler size 5 – I had the hardest time getting new shoes for her because her little feet are so chubby that my first few rounds of shoes were too tight!
  • Number of teeth: twelve with two canines still coming in
  • Eye color: I’m calling them “alpine lake” – the most gorgeous greeny blue
  • Favorite foods: smoothies, yogurt, pistachios, pretzel sticks
  • Least favorite foods: beef, chicken, bread
  • Favorite things/activities: doing anything Ben does, brushing her teeth, reading interactive books, playing with cars and trucks, dancing, climbing, swinging, trying on shoes, getting into mischief…
  • Least favorite things/activities: waiting, not getting what she wants, getting her diaper changed

Over the last month since I did Hannah’s 19-month update our lives and the world have been turned upside down due to the pandemic. Both Hannah and Ben are thriving as we have moved indefinitely out to our mountain house.

Hannah has had a tremendous vocabulary and speech leap this last month. While it’s still tricky to understand her out of context her pronunciation is improving, as is her vocabulary. We’re guessing her vocabulary {spoken words} is somewhere around 30-40 words.

She has started babbling out full sentences {we have little or no idea what she’s talking about!} and she’ll just be sitting there looking at you or something else as though she’s having a conversation. She sure has a lot to say – we just don’t know what it is yet! Occasionally we are able to pick out a few words in there and make a guess as to what she’s talking about.

I hope I never ever forget how stinking cute and animated she is when she responds to a question with a resounding “yeah!” We have several videos of it that I need to make sure to tuck away for the future. She’s also recently started saying “that” which is helpful to know what she wants, and she also uses it to ask what something is or what a sound was.

Recently Hannah has become quite attached to her new puppy stuffie. Needless to say, she’s been saying “puppy” a ton as she cuddles him.

Now that we have nothing to do, per the pandemic, I’m thinking about potty training Hannah. She seems pretty ready, actually. During diaper changes she likes to wipe herself and she says “hi vulva” as she’s wiping. It’s hard not to laugh!

For a while Hannah has been hopping up onto the step stool that lives in front of the toilet {for Ben to use}, pushing up the toilet seat and lifting up her shirt. Lately she’s started pushing down her pants and trying to take off her diaper. She’s always first in line to flush after anyone uses the toilet.

Gosh this girl has a personalty with a capital “P”! She is SO fun. She’s still a pistol and probably always will be, but she’s a complete and total blast to be around. Her little cackle is the cutest thing and we adore watching her little run. She’s still so unbelievably loud and boisterous and loves to be the center of attention.

In addition to being a spitfire she’s also cuddly, extremely affectionate, really good at sharing and quite helpful. She loves to dance and have a good time and is quick to give hugs to those she’s close to. Hannah is at a very rational time in her life right now – most of the time she is really easy to reason with.

Hannah wants to do everything by herself and with attitude. She is quick to push my hand away if I offer assistance on just about anything. That said, there are some times where she’ll stop and reach her hand out for mine if it’s something she’s not quite sure about. She is really getting comfortable and confident at going up and down the stairs.

Somehow, despite her limited vocabulary, she has grasped the word “me” in a very grammatically correct way. Oftentimes I’ll ask “who wants a snack?” or something like that and she’ll be the first to respond “me!” Or she’ll be pointing at the shoes by the door and when she gets to hers say “me!”

Jumping and climbing are big favorites of Hannah’s lately. She loves to jump on the trampoline… the bed… the couch… anywhere she can get a bit of a bounce. She has so much pizzazz when she jumps, too. This girl gets style points for pretty much everything.

Hannah is quite the problem solver. She loves to play with stacking rings or little stacking boxes or cups and is surprisingly patient, even when it’s not working out. She has been really into climbing lately and it’s been fun to watch her test her limits and figure things out.

Mealtimes are routinely quite rough, particularly at dinner. Hannah’s appetite really ebbs and flows throughout the day and she’s not really into eating dinner, nor is she into waiting for anyone else to finish their meal. If it was up to Hannah she’d live off of smoothies, yogurt pouches, cornichons, pistachios, pasta, cheese and fruit. Really not the worst diet but it’s hard to balance that out with another toddler and two adults.

Hannah is not into meat or bread and when provided a “dipper” {i.e. syrup or ketchup} she’ll choose the dip over the item to be dipped. Additionally, when served toast with peanut butter, she’ll lick off the peanut butter and leave the toast behind.

Regardless of what it is, Hannah wants to be included. This girl is going to have major FOMO {fear of missing out} when she’s older – I can already tell. If Ben is putting on his pajamas, Hannah’s got to get hers too. If someone tells a joke, Hannah cackles at it at just the right time. She’s always in on everything and really doesn’t want to miss out.

Hannah loves to help out around the house. One of her favorite jobs is feeding Jackson. She also loves to sweep the floor and will put away toys without being asked {crossing my fingers this one sticks for a good long time!}.

This sweet girl is truly getting more fun by the day. Often times the highlight of the day for me is just standing back and watching her play and run around, especially when it’s with her brother. We are really rounding the corner on age two…

Lodge Life: Pandemic

We are safe, healthy and in good spirits. In case you missed our last post, our family is holed up in the mountains indefinitely while we self-quarantine amidst the pandemic.

As we get further and further into this wild situation I feel more and more grateful for the blessings we do have right now. We have each other and we have nature. We have our health and our home is well-stocked to allow us to hunker down for a good long time. I continue to be inspired by the generosity and compassion I am seeing around our region and the country. It warms my heart to see people coming together to support each other.

We’re at the beginning of week 2 of our quarantine and are finding joy and adventure each day.

The kids are adjusting to this new normal really well. I have been very honest with Ben about what is going on and I feel that because it’s so black and white that he really is grasping things.

During the week I have been trying to keep to a relatively consistent routine where we get ready to go after breakfast and then head out for an outdoor adventure.

We’ve had a lot of picnics and car snacks and did a little baking. The kids love to help out in the kitchen and we had fun making banana bread together. It was far from a smooth experience but the end result was good.

{Hannah’s expression is priceless and mimics how crazy this experiment was!}

We stocked up at Costco and Safeway and have about a week’s worth of fresh produce and a few days worth of frozen veggies. Our pantry and freezer remain very well-stocked, though yogurt pouches for the kids and sparkling water for the adults are being rationed to one per day per person!

One day last week we did an art walk at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. They put together a map of all of the art located on their property {our walk was restricted to the outdoors} and we treated it like a little scavenger hunt. Ben was super into it! “Sleeping Lady” is a part of the mountain range and, as you may guess, is said to look like a sleeping lady. Ben had the hardest time grasping there’s not an actual lady up there sleeping!

We ventured to Lake Wenatchee State Park twice last week – once for a sunny hike, the other time to play in the snow and have a snowy picnic.

Early afternoons are Hannah’s nap time and Ben’s quiet time. I like to spend some time reading with Ben, practicing letters, doing a puzzle or playing a quiet game together and then he enjoys watching a show for a bit while Hannah naps. Occasionally I can catch a few minutes to myself here, too!

Lots of reading is happening during the day for both kids. I just love children’s books and love reading with my littles so we’re working it in as often as possible.

Late afternoons are perfect for playing in the yard. Sometimes we take a nature walk through the forest, other times we visit the horses across the street, and some days we just play. The kids are loving their swing set, their mini trampoline, their t-ball set and their gardening tools. They both love throwing the ball for Jackson, over and over and over again…

So far the weather has been perfection. Our first week was sunny and warm and left us dreaming of summer. The kids were running around without coats – one day Ben refused to put shoes on in the grass and I couldn’t argue too much.

The snow in our yard was nearly gone, then we had the most beautiful day of snow at the end of the week. We were dreading it but once it arrived it turned everything from brown to white again and we felt so cozy inside with the fire roaring all day, watching the snow.

Alex is loving working from home. It’s so sweet that Ben can run up and jump in Alex’s lap, even while he’s on a video call, and just give him a hug. Ben has been surprisingly respectful of Alex and his space while he’s working. We’re loving having Alex around more during the week.

This last weekend we had a blast together as a family. Ben and I headed to Stevens Pass to ski – luckily we got there the day before their operations ceased. I had SO much fun skiing with my little buddy! He did awesome. It was our first time on the chair lift together.

I’m training for a couple half marathons {though one just got canceled, unfortunately} and a 30k this summer/fall and managed to sneak away for a long run on Sunday while Alex took the kids on a bike ride/playground trip. It seems as though that may be our last trip to the playground for a few weeks, now, given the state of things.

We are truly making the most of this time together and honestly are enjoying it, though I wish the circumstances were dramatically different. I feel tremendous gratitude that amidst this crisis we still have nature and we still have each other. I can rest easy knowing that.

Lodge Life: Quarantine

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 days you know that the Seattle area is the epicenter of the US Coronavirus outbreak. Seattle is home for us, so we’ve been taking things a day at a time over here, careful to heed recommendations by our local health experts and avoid crowds to help stop the spread.

To that end, the day after Alex’s employer required folks to work from home, Alex and I decided it’s time we head east and hole up at The Lodge indefinitely. Since moving to the mountains on Saturday, Ben’s school is asking all those who can stay home to please do so.

To me, last week it felt like a veil of uncertainty was hanging over the Seattle area. No one knew what was going to happen next or how the events would unravel. It seems like the only thing that’s certain is that Covid-19 is here to stay for a while and it’s spreading like wildfire.

We are working to do our part and avoid crowds and gatherings and just keep to ourselves so we can help stop the spread. We’ve been washing our hands so much they’re cracked and bleeding.

At this point, my biggest concern is the spread of the virus. We’re at a lower risk of complications if we do contract the virus, but I sure don’t want to contribute to its spread.

We are well-stocked here and so very grateful for our pantry and storage space. We have plenty of food and supplies to last us quite a while.

I’ve already started compiling a master list of ideas of things we can do at our home, both inside and outside, as well as local outings I can take the kids to do. We have nature as our playground out here and there’s an abundance of easy hiking trails I am eager to take the kids to. We’ll bring binoculars {just ordered the kids a new nature kit!} and our field guide and Ben’s camera and go on our own little expedition and birding adventures, we’ll do the “Art Walk” at The Sleeping Lady and watch the season change right before our very eyes. {PLEASE send further ideas if you have them!!}

So, for the foreseeable future, we’ll be living in the mountains. I feel so grateful that we have this escape and we’re able to isolate ourselves. I’m positive we’re going to go a bit bonkers; however, I really do want to relish in this opportunity to spend time together as a family.

Sure, Alex will be working remotely during the day, which presents its own set of challenges, but we’ll see so much more of him this way. The unstructured time will be hard for Ben, but I get to spend all day for the next several weeks making memories with both of my children.

Our hearts are with the world, though, as we navigate these difficult times and learn more about the virus. We’re committed to doing our part to help stop the spread. Stay safe out there!

Ben is 3-3/4!

This milestone almost snuck by without me realizing it was approaching! My goodness gracious, though, 3-1/2 is one of my new favorite ages. So far my favorites seem to be the “half years” for some reason. Ben has been acting like such a kid lately.

Ben’s stats:

  • Weight: around 33 pounds
  • Height: around 41 inches
  • Clothing size: jumping into 4T in PJs and tops, still 3T on bottom
  • Shoe size: growing into size 9 toddler
  • Favorite foods: crackers, pasta, any type of cheese, yogurt, smoothies, cottage cheese, most meats – especially slow cooked, roasted chickpeas
  • Favorite activities: playing with his stuffies, writing his name, learning new letters, drawing, pushing his cars/trucks around, listening to music, playing outside, riding his scooter, reading books together or looking at books independently

Ben continues to be just the absolute sweetest. He is so affectionate and quick to give hugs and cuddles and “I love yous.” He forms bonds with adults really quickly and adores his little sister. Lately Ben has been playing with his stuffed animals quite a bit and it is so endearing to watch him care for his stuffies. He absolutely loves them.

During the last quarter we’ve seen a major interest develop in learning the letters of the alphabet and how to write his name and other letters. Alex and I felt strongly that he’d become curious about letters in his own time, so we never pushed it. One day I decided to sit down and have him start practicing tracing the letters of his name and that turned into a daily activity.

Now Ben can write his name all on his own, as well as several other letters of the alphabet. He’s slowly learning to identify the letters, as well as their sounds. He is very, very interested in learning what letters different words start with and is beginning to put together the very basics of phonemic awareness, the first step to learning to read!

{When he writes his name he says, aloud, “Line down, half circle, half circle. Line down, one, two three. Up, down, up.” It’s been quite an experience for me to watch this development.}

One of Ben’s favorite activities right now, in addition to writing his name, is drawing. Art is something he is really into right now. He loves to draw, color and paint. He has begun to draw people and I didn’t realize how special and sweet that would be but it melts my heart every time he draws pictures of our family.

Making valentines for his friends at school and some family members was such a special activity for him. He put so much love and attention into each and every card and it melted my heart watching him pass out the valentines to his classmates at his Valentine’s Day party.

Another big milestone as of very recently is that Ben is no longer wearing pull-ups to bed! He’s been working on this for a good long while and after asking over and over again to be done with pull-ups he showed us he was ready.

This last quarter Ben has been very into wearing his pajamas. I certainly can’t blame him – I’d love to just be in my PJs too. The first thing he does when he gets home from an outing is to put on his jammies and get himself cozy.

We’re halfway through the school year now and Ben is absolutely thriving in his Montessori program. He adores his teacher and has formed some really sweet friendships with his classmates. When I pick him up from school he is all smiles and addresses everyone by name as he bids them farewell {even the au pairs!}.

{Ben is working on a map puzzle here while wearing his “love light” necklace. The necklace indicates that his love light is shining bright and he’s feeling really happy and filled with love.

Most days Ben rides his scooter to and from school. This kid has some impressive moves on his scooter and he turns heads as we cruise through the downtown section of our neighborhood. It’s rare for someone not to comment on how fast he is or how good he looks on his scooter. I really trust him on his scooter too – for whatever reason when he’s on his scooter or his bike he is a terrific listener.

At the park these days Ben rarely plays on the equipment. He’s busy pushing trucks around in the sand, kicking his soccer ball or riding his scooter or bike around the basketball court. If we’re at a different park with better climbing apparatus he’ll be into that, too.

In addition to his scooter, Ben got really into skiing and ice skating this winter. He went through his first season of ski school and absolutely loved it. We’re hoping for a few more ski days for him this winter so we can do longer chair lift laps to really solidify his new skills.

We went ice skating together several times in the early days of winter. I think that was one of the biggest highlights of Ben’s winter. He caught onto it really quickly and had a blast.

Lately Ben has been really into learning about how his body works. We have an interactive “about the body” book at both houses that he requests to read regularly. He really has a good grasp on how his body functions. It’s been really fun reading longer, more informational books with him lately. I just love when he’s able to recall something he learned about from a book in a real-life situation.

Puzzles continue to be a favorite activity for Ben, although in writing this I realized we haven’t done them as much recently. At school, his teachers shared with me that they have puzzles for each continent and that he whizzed right through Europe like it was no big deal. Spacial awareness seems to be a strong suit for Mr. Ben.

It’s been a good long while since Ben has been a regular napper. Sure, he’ll fall asleep in the car, but at home he has quiet time instead. Our calm, relaxing afternoon time while Hannah is napping continues to evolve. I like to have him practice writing his name and do some reading together at a minimum. Sometimes we’ll play a game, but a lot of times he just wants to relax and watch a show. He is surprisingly able to self-regulate very well with the iPad {or TV} and at most watches a half hour at a time. He is really into shows on PBS Kids and some favorites include Pinkalicious, Xavier Riddle and Daniel Tiger, though he’s trying out new shows quite a bit.

We’ve done quite a lot of baking together over the last quarter, especially with Christmas cookie season in the mix. I have especially enjoyed baking banana bread with him. It’s such a simple recipe and he can do so much on his own – before I know it he’ll be reading the recipe and doing it without my help. I just saw a local cooking class for four-year olds and can hardly wait to check it out this summer!

My next update will be when we have a FOUR-year old at the beginning of summer. I can hardly believe it. Each milestone and age just keeps getting better and better and more and more fun. This boy is turning into quite the kid.