Tag Archives: family

Building the Lodge: Moving In

We’ve officially moved into The Lodge!

A few weeks ago Alex’s parents joined us in our first stay at The Lodge where we unpacked and got settled. We waited a long, long time and worked tirelessly to make this a reality for our family and it finally happened – we moved in!

The day we had planned on driving out there ended up being the start of Seattle’s “Snomageddon” – when snow is forecast for Seattle the whole city shuts down. This particular storm was predicting 4-8 inches of snow which ultimately happened and caused nearly a week of snow days and gridlocked the entire city. Grocery stores ran out of food, cars were abandoned on roads – no one went out or did anything. We chose the very beginning of the storm as the time we left our house to head for the mountains.

The drive to The Lodge was an absolute nightmare. I drove my car with Ben and Hannah and endured horrible snowy city traffic, then blinding and treacherous snowy mountain roads. A 2-hour drive turned into a more than 4-hour drive. It was awful. I was so relieved to have made it, and once we arrived, most of my stress melted away as we explored our beautiful mountain home.

Unsurprising to anyone who knows anything about home building or renovations – our completion date for the house kept getting pushed further and further back at the last minute and the house still isn’t done. Finally we just told our builder that we have a non-negotiable furniture delivery date and Alex’s parents have airline tickets so we’re coming to the house and we’re staying for a week. They were able to finish up quite a lot, but still some final details were not complete yet.

During the course of our stay there was a bit of work that took place on the house and since we’ve been there more finishing details have been taken care of. At this point I believe the house is more than 99% complete – I think there are only a couple more odds and ends to be taken care of, and most of those things are changes we’re making. The biggest things that are undone now are the deck railings outside and the shower doors in the master bathroom.

The moving in process was a little more complicated than a standard move. Moving into a vacation house was different in that we ended up having so, so, so much stuff shipped to our primary residence, renting a trailer and then moving it out there that way. We purchased almost every item specifically for the house, so we had to acquire everything and get it out there.

The day before our move-in date we learned from our mail carrier that because we didn’t have a mailbox we were not considered customers of USPS. That was news to me, and because of that, they would not deliver packages there. Apparently the mail carrier is paid per customer and she was not interested in not getting paid to deliver our 28 packages. This, along with shipping delays from the inclement weather, threw a bit of a wrench in our move-in plans since we had anticipated our massive Amazon orders would be at our house upon our arrival. The day after we arrived we had to make two trips into town {25 minutes away} to the post office to pick up our packages that weren’t delivered. And then we had to put up a mailbox. In February when the ground was frozen.

It seemed like the boxes would never end. They just kept coming and coming. We worked through them really quickly and by the end of our first full day we had the kitchen largely pulled together, thanks in large part to both of my children napping AT THE SAME TIME for more than an hour. Side note: it is unbelievable how much I can get done during nap time!

We all ran out of steam pretty quickly and the glamour of moving in faded fast. It’s tiring and cumbersome and never seems to end. Despite all of the housewares that we have and the food in our pantry and the furniture we have, there is still so, so very much to do. I know we’ll get there one day – hopefully within the next 6 months or so we’ll be able to step back and say that we feel like the house is in a complete state. It’s so, so, so very exciting to see it come together, though.

 

As I’m writing this it still hasn’t hit me that it’s real. I feel like we just had a vacation at a really nice house in the mountains and spent a really long time settling in there. I’m hoping that during our next trip out it will sink in that this is our mountain house…

A New Chapter

We are at the beginning of a very new, big chapter in our lives. Our mountain house is {basically} done and we’re in the process of moving in. We’re planning on spending as much time out there as possible as we build a new life for our family. Additionally, I recently resigned from my job running a small non-profit and am changing careers – my new job title is: mom.

We’ve been in the process of beginning our mountain life now for more than a year and a half, since we bought our property in July 2017, and we’re over the moon to finally be moving in.

Alex and I have been dreaming about having a second home in the mountains ever since we moved out to Seattle. We have vivid memories from one winter early on in our time in Seattle with our very dear friends, Carrie and Patrick, where we rented a cabin near Crystal Mountain Resort one weekend a month for the whole ski season. We had a taste of cabin living and we were hooked.

Both of us, along with Alex’s parents, who we will share the house with, have worked tirelessly to pull our resources together and make it happen, both from a financial standpoint as well as a design and management position.

I don’t quite know how having The Lodge will change our lives, but I know there will be dramatic implications. We hope to spend most weekends out there and have Alex’s parents join us for extended stays, as well as my parents, the rest of our family and our friends, too. We hope this house will bring our families together more often and we hope to provide an opportunity for our friends across the country to come and see our little piece of paradise and spend time with us.

The timing for me to leave my job came up suddenly; however the time was right for a number of reasons. I think it’s perfect that it coincides with The Lodge being complete.

Our new au pair had started with us in late December and after a month we knew if just was never going to work. I had an extremely difficult transition back to work after my maternity leave with Hannah – our childcare situation was in a constant state of flux and I never felt like I re-entered my job or could give it the focus and dedication the organization deserved.

Finally, I got a crystal clear sign it was time to move on from our au pair. I had really hoped we could make it work with her – while I knew at some point in the future I wanted to stay home with the kids, I wasn’t quite ready to step down from a career I loved so much. We made the decision very quickly and we are very confident it was the right choice.

Over the last 14 or so months our childcare and school arrangements never felt consistent or long-term and caused Alex and me tremendous stress. There’s nothing quite like worrying about the care your child is receiving in your absence. I’m a very diligent and involved parent and there were several times over the last year that my mama bear instincts told me that things weren’t quite right. In the course of that time I’ve spoken up, been far more direct than I normally care to be and advocated for the well-being of my children. I finally reached the end of my rope and decided I’d rather take over myself.

Ben will remain in preschool four mornings a week this school year and then will transition to a Montessori preschool, four mornings a week, in the fall. I signed him up for gymnastics one afternoon a week and a few week-long morning camps this summer. The rest of the time we’ll spend bouncing around the city, playing at the park or the beach, going to the zoo and doing toddleriffic projects at home. I can’t wait to have more time with my kids to explore and check out new things in this beautiful area we call home. I also hope we’ll be able to spend more time up in the mountains together.

I’m truly overjoyed to be starting my new career as “mom” – I have been yearning for more time with my kiddos for quite a while. They’re growing up so fast I can’t stand it. They’re not going to be this little for much longer and I want to savor this sweet and special time with them.

It’s the beginning of a chapter with no end in sight. Alex and I can’t wait to finally feel settled in our lives, something we haven’t felt in years.

#Momlife

I’ve been moming real hard lately and it has been wonderful. We have had so much going on recently and I have really savored the time I spent with my littles, in particular the one-on-one time.

The one-on-one time I have been able to spend with Ben recently has been extra special. With all of the people around for the holidays and all of the change we had going on I was really missing my biggest little and I think the feeling was mutual. It’s so hard when there’s so much going on to be able to break away just the two of us and have some mama/Ben time. I was so grateful for more opportunities when December turned into January.

I have built-in time with Ben, just the two of us, four mornings a week when I take him to preschool. Once a week I stay for the two-hour class at his co-op and we get to play together. He absolutely loves co-op and that time is really special for both of us.

Usually co-op ends with a steamed milk or a hot chocolate – partly as a special treat for keeping his pants dry and partly because I’m a softie. I never thought I’d be a softie but I totally am. And I’m ok with that!

Ben has been growing up so fast and I can’t stand it. It’s hard to think how close we are to times when he’s not going to need us as much and when he’s going to be so independent he won’t want our help constantly, and, heartbreakingly, the time will come when he won’t want to cuddle or be picked up all the time.

Obviously I want my kids to grow up and be independent and self-sufficient but I love so much this beautiful season that we’re in right now. I know every milestone and every phase results in more and more fun but I’m getting so much joy from where we’re at that I want to relish it as long as I can. My babies aren’t going to be babies for much longer, after all.

My littlest is growing at warp speed. It did not go this fast with Ben as a baby, that’s for sure. I hope that life starts to slow down once our weekends will be spent together as a family in the mountains. Something tells me that’s naive.

I also savor the moments, though, when I can enjoy my coffee + biscotti in the morning, read my book {currently reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine}, cook and plan out the week. My time cooking is extremely limited these days, as is my computer and planning time. I have become much better at making the time to have some coffee and read in the mornings by purposefully waking up early. I absolutely love sitting in silence in the dark, enjoying the calm of the morning.

If I’m being honest, the part of #momlife I like the least right now is trying to schedule in time to pump. I’m constantly on the go for my job and it is really tricky some days to make the time. My work schedule is flexible but some days there is simply not enough time between appointments. Thankfully I’ve been able to have a low/no-stress approach to this so far and while I’m hoping to be able to keep up with Hannah’s needs with breast milk, I’m totally fine if we need to supplement with formula.

{cup of ice from the coffee shop to keep the milk cold!}

I’ve had a bit of an interesting go of things recently as a cat mom. Poor Henry got injured a few weeks ago and has required quite a lot of follow-up treatment as a result. We were at the vet every day last week and I’m happy to say Henry has made a complete recovery now. My sweet Ben melted everyone’s heart at the vet, though, when we had to drop Henry off and say good bye – Ben bent down in front of the door of Henry’s carrier and said “Bye Henry! I hope you feel better. Have a good day!” There’s nothing quite like a 2-year old.

The best moments as of late are the evenings, right around 7:00, when I’m sitting down to feed Hannah and Ben comes in to say goodnight to us. Hannah always takes precedent over me. He comes in, wraps his little arms around his baby sister and gives her a gentle squeeze then makes sure to give her a kiss – sometimes on the head, other times on the hand, and then, so sweetly, says “goodnight Hannah!” and then I look up at his father and we acknowledge that we know we’ve done something right.

In “#dadlife” news – Alex has also been dading pretty hard, too. He and Ben have had some really special time together over the last few weeks. They went rock climbing, swimming and to the gymnastics gym recently. Ben and Alex are two peas in a pod and Ben is so much like his dad. It melts my heart watching the two of them together.

While I have such limited time to myself right now, it’s so hard to imagine life before kids these days. These two little humans have made my heart {and life!} so full. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Life These Days

Crazy has a whole new meaning to me right now. Alex’s and my plates are overflowing, it feels, with all that we have going on. I’m very, very thankful for the time between when the kids go to bed and when Alex and I go to bed so we can feel like we’re able to accomplish something during the day.

Our backup childcare plans didn’t work out for much of the lapse in childcare we had from our last au pair to when our new one arrives.

With no notice I dove head first into my new temporary role as a stay-at-home mom. We’ve enjoyed fun outings to the zoo, the children’s museum, a fun new bookstore, local toddler gyms and parks. Hannah got to test the waters of Ben’s co-op preschool {I’d love to send her there next year!}.

I also enjoyed a lot of down time with the kids at home. Since it’s getting dark out so early these days we were home by 4 or so most days. I put together some craft projects and some fun toddler activities, like turning a shoe box into a fine motor skills practice opportunity for Ben {he had to match the color of a pom pom to the color of a small hole then push the pom pom through – hello matching and fine motor skills!}.

Since I don’t have childcare, Hannah has been coming with me to my weekly Pilates lesson {luckily it happens to coincide with a time when Ben is at school}. Roxanne, my instructor, mentioned several times that Hannah just watches me and tries to mirror my moves. It’s been really sweet having her there. I wish I could bring her everywhere!

For the last 3 months I’ve been going to a weekly moms group called PEPS {Program for Early Parent Support}. It’s a group of local moms who just had their second child. We have a facilitator who leads our discussions on various parenting topics each week and we share our highs and lows, as well as learn something developmentally appropriate about our babies. I have come to really adore the group and look forward to my time with the other moms and babies. It’s been such a wonderful way to continue to boost our village and establish what I expect to be long-lasting friendships.

{Hannah is second from the right}

{Hannah won the award for “Most Sylish Baby” and “Most Likely to be a Movie Star”}

Poor sweet Ben was sick all of last week. He had a terrible cough. He needed lots of extra snuggles and love and enjoyed a lot of time on the couch with his friends Daniel Tiger and Peppa Pig.

Amidst the chaos it’s the holiday season. And we happen to be building a house and getting very near the finish line. And I also still have a job, which I’ve been trying to during spare moments. Somehow we’re managing just fine. It’s a little crazy, but Alex and I kind of like crazy. This is the season we’ve chosen for ourselves and I wouldn’t change it for anything.  I’m not going to get this time back and I’m sure enjoying these extra special moments.

Lately

Life has been a liiiiittle crazy around here lately. I’ve heard people say one {kid} is like none and two is like 20 {or insert other high number here} – I definitely don’t think that’s the case for us; however, the transition of me going back to work and our childcare and logistics of life have been a little bit nuts these last several weeks. Oh, and everyone has been sick.

Hannah kicked off my first day back to work with an eye infection and pink eye. Alex got it a few days later, along with a really nasty flu-like virus. Ben got the virus immediately, as did Hannah. The viruses get a little fuzzy because it almost seemed like Ben got a little cold first and then the nasty virus kicked in a week later and Alex got the nasty virus first and then a cold towards the end. Hannah’s just a champ so she powered right through it with a little extra sleep and a lot of congestion. Our crew was down for the count for 19 days. 19 days.

Somehow I got spared, which was great since I was on total mom duty for quite some time. I’m totally fine solo parenting, but in this instance it was tricky because I wasn’t expecting to be rolling solo and having no notice meant I didn’t have anything prepared for the days. I wasn’t sure if Alex just needed to snooze in the morning for an hour or if he’d be out all morning or all day. Planning is kind of helpful for my sanity. It was extra tricky having Alex try to sleep right in the heart of our house – it was so hard to keep Ben quiet and out of the room.

On the second weekend of Alex being sick I finally had enough of being cooped up and waiting to know if Alex was joining the living again and I picked the kids up and we took the bus downtown to the aquarium. I didn’t really think it through whatsoever – total impulse decision – but we were out of the house for about 4 hours and Alex got a good nap in and started to turn it around.

In the midst of the illnesses, Ben either was really down and out from being sick or he was going through a big brain development and he was a dissasssstterrrrrrrrrr. The course of the two weeks where everyone was sick was undoubtedly the most challenging parenting time so far. Holy cow. I have a feeling that was only a taste of what’s to come as we’re getting more into toddlerhood.

During this time it was inconceivable for Stacey to watch both kids at the same time. Hannah would have been completely neglected because Ben needed so much attention. Most days at some point I ended up taking at least one of the kids, if not both.

Alex and I joked that Ben became bipolar or possessed by a demon. One minute he’d be perfectly happy, then you’d ask which color straw he wanted and dear lord the world must have ended. Try to get him to get dressed and goodness gracious it was world war 3. There was a lot of screaming, hitting, kicking, temper tantrums, arguing, fighting, down right refusing, food throwing – you name it. Negotiating with a terrorist is what Alex called it. And then, just like that, our sweet little Ben returned.

How’s Hannah, you ask? Thank heavens she is a dream. Sweetest baby girl I’ve ever met. Hannah’s bright blue eyes and big full-body smile light up the room and can brighten anyone’s day. Seriously.

Amidst the chaos we did have some really sweet moments and a lot of fun. I’m loving doing preschool drop off with Ben and having my moms group with Hannah. We trekked out to the mountains, Ben and I baked some cookies, we’ve had numerous park trips and play dates and we went swimming together as a family.

FINALLY everyone seems to be healthy. I’m hoping we can get a few weeks before the next virus strikes.

 

Back to Work!

Two weeks ago my blissful maternity leave came to an end and I went back to work. I’m fortunate that I really enjoy my job and the people I work with, but still, it wasn’t easy.

I was able to take three full months off with Hannah and it was so special to have that time to bond with her. I absolutely adore my sweet baby girl. Since we’ve been connected for so long it has been really hard to be away from her during the day.

Luckily I have been able to ease back into work and piece together my work schedule in combination with some kiddo things during the week. I’m in charge of taking Ben to his co-op preschool twice a week – one day I stay for the full time and the other day I drop him off and go work in a coffee shop. We’ve been sneaking some extra mama/Ben time in at the end of school and grabbing a coffee together.

I’m doing a moms group called PEPS that’s designed for mamas and their second baby. We meet one morning a week {babies and mamas} and it’s so nice to have that built-in time with Hannah during the week too.

So far the scheduling has been more streamlined than I expected and it’s really nice to get a chance to spend a little one-on-one time with both kids during the week. I’ve also been intentionally trying to limit the time that Stacey has to manage both kids at the same time. It really is difficult to manage the logistics of a two-year old along with a 3-month old.

We’re all still getting the hang of our new rhythm and waiting for it to change again {Stacey, our au pair, will be leaving us at the end of the month}. For now, I think our schedule is working out okay. Ben is loving both of his preschools and I’m happy that I get to spend some real quality time with both kids separately during the week.

{Poor Hannah had an eye infection that required a doctor’s visit on my first day back.}

It’s still hard to leave my kiddos during the day. I know the time goes so darn fast and I want to look back on this time feeling like I spent enough time with them and made enough memories. No one said being a working mom is easy – we can’t have it all!

Fall Family Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Day Ever?

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

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

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

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

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

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

{My cozy little bear!}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One-on-One Time

One of the biggest challenges of now having a second child is making sure Alex and I are spending one-on-one time with both kiddos. Naturally I am spending oodles of time with Hannah, thus defaulting to more Alex-Ben time. It’s the reverse that gets trickier.

Lately, Alex and I have been going out of our way to make sure I am able to spend quality time with Ben, just the two of us. Even if it’s ten minutes here or there, like giving him a bath or putting him to bed. We’ve been a little lax on our “green light” wake up rule and have allowed Ben to get up earlier to spend time with me in the morning before Hannah wakes up. It’s important that we have that time together.

Sweet Ben has started requesting cuddle time at 4:30 in the morning. As much as Alex and I would both love to snuggle him for the rest of the night in bed with us we know that’s a slippery slope and don’t want to have to undo that down the road. So, our days have been starting around 4:30 {or earlier for those of us who wake up to feed baby Hannah, usually from 3-4} while we work to get Ben to stay in his bed for the rest of the night. It’s hard to be too upset about this since all Ben wants is to come and cuddle with us, buttttt we really like to sleep in later than 4:30.

Ben and I have had a few mama/Ben dates, most recently with a run down to Madison Park with a pit stop at the coffee shop, park and beach. It was such a special morning with Ben.

Alex is also trying to find ways to spend time with Hannah. He’ll often bring her with him in the mornings when he walks Jackson and that’s not only a great start to the day but a great way for him to connect with her and enjoy cuddle time.

We’re still figuring out how to balance our two kiddos who both have very different needs, demands and schedules, and I think we’re doing okay. Maybe someday things will slow down and normalize? Probably not!