Tag Archives: Benjamin

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.

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.

Ben is 18 Months Old!

Our baby really isn’t a baby anymore. He’s a year and a half old!!! Lately he has been acting more and more like a toddler and frankly, a little boy. This last month’s theme is, without a doubt, communication. Ben’s vocabulary and comprehension is soaring in the most exciting way. He is such a little sponge and a parrot {realized we have to start being mindful of what we say!} and he has begun to really follow simple directions quite well.

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Ben just had his 18-month check-up and here are his stats:

  • Weight: 22 pounds 6 ounces (10th percentile – still a peanut!)
  • Height: 32 inches (50th percentile!)
  • Clothing size: he’s still in 12-18 months but he’s about to break into 18-24 in tops, definitely not bottoms {of course this is brand dependent}
  • Number of teeth: 7…. two molars are just starting to poke through though now, finally, so soon we’ll be at 9+
  • Favorite foods: sausage, broccoli{!}, applesauce, cottage cheese
  • New foods: artichokes!, finally likes brussels sprouts!
  • Favorite activities: pointing out airplanes, running, climbing, shaking his finger saying “uh uh uh”, dancing, making people laugh, playing peek-a-boo, reading stories

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At the time Ben turned 17 months he was just coming off of a little rough patch health-wise. He had lost quite a bit of weight and was not sleeping well. I’m so, so, so pleased to report that is a thing of the past. After a couple days of drinking protein shakes and eating a ton Ben’s weight started to bounce back. We introduced probiotics and vitamin d drops as a way to help improve his gut and immune system and it sure seems to be working. AND by some miracle he went the entire rest of the month without getting sick!

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One helpful thing we did to work on getting Ben’s sleep back on track was purchase a tot clock {AKA “ok to wake” clock}. We opted for the fancy Hatch Baby Rest “clock” which is more of a night light/sound machine. It is so cool and Ben picked up on it right away. How it works is that at 6:45 p.m. the orange sleep light comes on and it starts playing soothing lullabies. That’s our cue that it’s time for Ben to get into his sleep sack and have some cuddles, bedtime stories and milk. At 7:00 p.m. the lullabies change to white noise {our house is so loud we use white noise to drown out the creaky floor and noisy pets} and it’s time for bed.

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At 6:20 a.m. the light turns green and the white noise/green light stay on. The green light signals it’s okay to be awake. Really, I can’t believe how quickly he picked up on this. One night I was so exhausted from getting up with Ben and Alex having been sick all week that I just didn’t get out of Bed when Ben woke up in the middle of the night. Or was it 4 a.m. like he had been doing for weeks? I was so tired I can’t remember. He whined a bit and then put himself back to bed a short while bit later. We didn’t go in the next morning until the green light went on and I kid you not, that’s all he needed. From that night on, we haven’t gone in there and he hasn’t needed us in the middle of the night. Some mornings he’ll wake up too early and talk to himself or put himself back to sleep until the light turns green. Other mornings he won’t wake up until after the light turns green and then he lets us know it’s time to get up. Also, Ben started sleeping with a pillow!!

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Now that we’re all caught up on sleep, everything is wonderful. Ben’s vocabulary is growing by several words a day. Some new words he learned this last month are: Santa, Sarah, tree, artichoke {a new favorite food of his!}, fire and trash. We’re estimating his vocabulary is about 60 words right now {that’s only words he knows in context and can identify solely on his own – he’ll repeat pretty much anything you ask him to at this point}. We’re really working on names of people.

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About a month ago we had a revelation that we’d been holding Ben back from eating with utensils. It’s so so so much easier to spoon feed him when he’s eating something like applesauce, cottage cheese or oatmeal, so that’s what we did. After seeing a friend a month younger than Ben completely master using her spoon to eat mac & cheese we realized we needed to give Ben that freedom. Turns out, he was ready! Now if only he could quickly figure out how to drink from an open cup! 🙂

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It’s so neat to see Ben’s comprehension solidify in new ways. We’ve found that he’s able to follow so many simple instructions – “Ben, go sit on the mat and drink your milk” or when I was in the kitchen one day I said “Ben, go put your jammies in the laundry please” and I was shocked that he did. And he even takes the time to make sure they’re totally in the laundry and not hanging over the side. Type A like his mama!?

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As a baby, Ben was not into cuddling. Thank goodness he is now! He is really in a cuddle phase and loves to be picked up and snuggled. I had a really sweet moment one afternoon when I got to cuddle in my bed with him and take a little snooze together.

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Something I’ll never forget about this time in his life is how he repeats, over and over and over, the name of his nanny. He truly says her name around 100-150 times a day. “Edina!” “Edina!” “Edina, Edina, Edina!” It is so sweet how much he adores her. And I know the feeling is mutual!

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In addition to Ben’s vocabulary, another theme this month has been climbing. Holy climbing. Ben is currently trying to climb anything and everything. He just grew a smidge and it was enough to give him the height he needs to climb into a chair. That’s going to be interesting! In a very short period of time he figured out how to safely climb down the stairs or get off of something high up, like our bed. It seemed like overnight I stopped worrying about him going down the stairs.

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One thing I find so impressive about Ben is that he practices things so intentionally. I’m not sure if this is something all kids do, and either way, it is so impressive that when he’s learning a new skill he wants to do it over and over and over to build mastery. He’s been doing this a lot on random staircases or at the park. I can sit back at the playground and he’ll climb up the little tot steps and go down the slide safely all by himself. I’m really not sure when he became such a big kid.

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Ben continues to be quite the entertainer! He is definitely a Rossdeutcher {Alex’s mom’s side} and loves to be the center of attention. He loves making people smile and laugh and wants to be sure people know he’s there. He’s the master of blowing kisses, he loves dancing – especially to Outkast and Notorious BIG {seriously} or really anything if you tell him to dance. He has started repeating names of people and will say “hello” and “ta ta” and can say “ho ho ho” when you ask him what Santa says.

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Ben is such a happy little boy. He laughs a lot, smiles and plays peek-a-boo any chance he gets. There are days when he’s a little whiny and he is getting more advanced and dramatic at throwing tantrums, but overall, he’s a really easy-going, loving, sweet boy.

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Here we are – on to the next month and the next milestones. Our little Benjamin continues to amaze us and we are so grateful to be his parents.

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Ben is 17 Months Old!

Happy Halloween from our 17-month old monkey!

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Today, Ben is 17 months old! We can’t believe he’s a month away from being a year and a half. Ben has 7 teeth {top 4 + bottom 2 center + top left molar} and I just saw the makings of a new molar about to emerge.

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Ben has had a couple bouts of illness this last month {roseola and the stomach flu} and has lost a bit of weight. He dropped from the 15th percentile back down to the 4th. Ben hasn’t bounced back from his illnesses as quickly as we would have expected. We saw the doctor who encouraged us to try some probiotics and really bump up the calories and fat to boost his weight back up. Ben hasn’t had much of an appetite for dinner {probably partly due to a new molar coming in} so he has been waking up very early and very hungry.

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That reminds me – I’ve been getting asked a lot lately what size Ben is wearing these days. As mentioned above, he’s still a little peanut! Mostly he’s wearing 12-18 months, but still some 9-12 months. In particular, pants are very difficult to buy for Ben because his little legs are so thin. I think he’ll be in 12-18 month clothing for a while still!

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As I keep saying every month, Ben is getting more and more fun by the day. The biggest changes in the last month, I’d say, have been the vocabulary explosion and that Ben has started getting into climbing. He is still super sweet {getting sweeter?!}, very giggly and affectionate.

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Listening to Ben talk and learn to talk/figure out how to say new words has been really neat to see. I’m not sure how many words he can say – probably close to 50 by now. I’d say his actual vocabulary {knowing words in context} is between 25-30 words. Not all of the words sound like how an adult would say them – airplane is “ah pah” but they’re consistent and he knows what he’s saying.

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Some of his regularly used words are: ball, truck, bath time, nana {banana}, down, hat and applesauce. A big majority of his vocabulary is food words, though his most commonly used word right now is Edina, our nanny’s name. He has started to say words that he had previously only signed – like water and all done. He answers yes or no to simple questions, particularly around food. Ben can follow simple instructions, for example, he can pick out a story that he wants to read and then come sit in your lap.

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He’s also learning about animals and really loving animals lately! We went to the zoo recently and Ben was extremely engaged in seeing the animals and making animal sounds. It was adorable. He especially loved the river otters, the giraffe and the baby gorilla! He makes a ferocious lion impersonation too. 🙂

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New this last month – Ben has turned into quite the climber! At the start of October he had not figured out how to go backwards down a set of stairs or safely climb off of something on his own. About two weeks ago somehow he magically figured out how to go down things safely. He can climb off of our bed or down from a chair and he can scoot backwards down the stairs. This opened up a whole new arena for him to start climbing anything he possibly can.

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Ben has also started going to a tumbling class, which is perfect to get the climbing crazies out! He goes to a structured class one day a week and then we’re allowed to come in later in the week for unstructured time on the equipment. The class is for tots just his age and gives the kiddos the opportunity to safely climb up and over things, tumble around, jump into a ball pit, bounce on a trampoline and work on other gross motor skills.

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Preschool is still going well. We’ve gotten into more of a routine this month with taking Ben to his school program two afternoons a month. He’s starting to get into the groove there and knows what to expect and really is starting to learn the songs. Now that we’re into it, I’m seeing a lot of value {not just all the work that’s involved!} and we’re really enjoying it.

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We just got this fancy “tot clock” for Ben’s room. It’s a night light that changes colors when it’s okay for Ben to wake up {i.e. after 6 a.m.!}. This clock is really neat – we have it set to a soft orange hue for sleepy time, along with some light background noise {mostly to drown out the creaky floors!}, then it changes to a blue/green at 6 a.m. to signal that it’s a reasonable time to wake up.

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Because of his recent illnesses, lack of appetite for dinner and waking up starving, Ben has been waking for the day between 4 and 5 a.m. Right now, the tot clock is not going to solve the issue of him not waking up. Once we get him on the right track with eating again, I think it will be helpful to get him to stay in bed ultimately until 6:30, or better yet, 7!

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The weather this month has been absolutely fantastic. I can’t think of an October in the nine years we’ve lived in Seattle that has been anywhere near this nice. Usually it’s just pouring down rain in October. Not this year! We’ve gotten an extra long playground season for little Ben and he’s one happy camper about it.

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Here’s to another great month – I can’t wait to see what Ben is like a month from now!

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Ben is 16 Months Old!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fall Family Fun!

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

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

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

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{cinnamon rolls + coffee the next morning!}

{cinnamon rolls + coffee the next morning!}

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

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

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

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Happy fall! 🙂

Ben’s First Day of “Preschool”

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

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

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

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Ben is 15 Months Old!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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