Tag Archives: family

Wisconsin Family Trip

For our last family hurrah of the summer we packed our suitcases, headed to the airport and flew east to Wisconsin to spend time with Alex’s family and some long-time friends.

Our trip took us to Lake Delavan, located in the southern part of the state, where Alex’s parents have a condo. This visit was long overdue and we were thrilled to finally introduce Hannah to her extended family and meet our new nephew, Marco.

Taking two toddlers on a plane is no small feat. We expected chaos. We expected screaming. We expected a very frustrated Hannah, not being old enough to understand just why she was trapped in a metal tube flying in the air for more than 4 hours. We did not expect harmony or peace or frankly much enjoyment from her at all. But! Enjoyment and harmony is what we got!

We knew Ben would be just fine but we didn’t expect Hannah to be, too! Hannah is obsessed with airplanes flying in the sky – I honestly didn’t think that interest would carry over into actually flying in an airplane. She was giddy with excitement with all the people in the airport, standing in front of the big windows watching the planes and then once we boarded the plane she connected all of the dots and realized she’d get to fly, too!

She did so, so well – on both flights, even. It really was a dream scenario. I hardly had to pull out any of the toys and activities I brought for either kid. Our flight {to Wisconsin especially} actually ended up being a highlight of our trip.

Enough about our travel day!

While we were on the ground in Wisconsin we filled our days with family. We so enjoyed a big family gathering with Alex’s relatives. It was fun to meet some of his cousins I hadn’t met yet, see how many great grandchildren Nana has {a lot! and probably only half of them were there!} and catch up with his aunts and their family friends, The Baileys. I loved sneaking away to go for a run with Alex’s uncle, a marathoner, and I even got to spend time with one of my college roommates, Julie, and her family too.

One of the major highlights of the trip for us, and one of the biggest reasons for taking the trip, was spending time with Nico and Marco, Alex’s and my nephews. Nico is 2 1/2 and Marco was 3 weeks old when we were there.

Ben and Nico got along famously. It was the sweetest thing watching the two of them pal around. It fills my heart with forward-looking joy and anticipation of the cousin love that’s starting to form.

We absolutely loved the time with the kids.

Another big highlight of the trip was when Alex and Alina took the littlest ones {Marco and Hannah} to visit Nana one afternoon. It was so special for them to have that time together.

The weather wasn’t really working in our favor for much of the trip. We had a few nice days but it was so windy! I really couldn’t believe it. It was too windy and cool to comfortably boat or go to the pool most days. Thankfully Grammy and Papa were well-prepared for us and had stocked the condo full of toddler toys and they acquired quite the slew of toddler vehicles for the kids to roll around in.

Alex and I had planned to spend one night in Chicago while we were there. We took the train into the city and made it just in time to have lunch and see a Cubs baseball game with some of Alex’s long-time friends. I had never been to Wrigley Field before and he was eager to show me around.

We loved staying in the Wicker Park neighborhood and had a really nice, leisurely morning being tourists. We found a great brunch spot and just enjoyed adulting and taking a really long walk through a fun urban neighborhood.

One of the highlights for me was early morning cuddles with Hannah. We’re probably still paying for this a bit now, but when she’d wake up early in the morning I didn’t want her to rouse the whole house so I just brought her into bed with us. It’s not something we really ever do so I was happy to “break the rules” a bit. It was very special time with my girl.

Our trip quickly came to an end after we returned from Chicago. We were lucky that Grammy and Papa had planned a trip of their own to come to Seattle the following week, so that made saying goodbye a little easier. Until next time!

Summer Recap

Summer isn’t normally my favorite season. Don’t get me wrong, I love our sunny Seattle summer days, but I’m usually more of a fall and winter kind of gal. Not this year, though! This summer rivals some pretty epic summers I’ve had for the best summer of my adult life and I’m sliding it into the top slot of best summers of all time.

This post is mainly going to be a photo dump, but I’ll preface by saying that this summer was so fantastic because of all of the family time we’ve been able to have in the mountains. Our life slows down so much out there. The days are so full and they move so much slower and we jam them full of adventure, exploration and family giggles – oh, and eating. These really are the days…

{Ben kicked off summer with two weeks of swimming lessons in early June. He became quite comfortable in the water!}

{Ben’s first bike competition! Bike ‘n Juice at Ski Hill in Leavenworth.}

{We fell in love with the community pool in Leavenworth this summer and went there at least once a week.}

{I’ve been enjoying more homemade iced lattes this summer to save myself a trip to the coffee shop.}

{Ben got a scooter for his 3rd birthday. He’s a pro already!}

{Lake Wenatchee – one of our favorites.}

{#prodad}

{Overlooking the Wenatchee River.}

{Ben participated in 6 weeks of summer camps. 2 weeks were bike camps and the remaining were at his former preschool.}

{Ben + dirt = love}

{Icicle Gorge hike – my personal favorite!}

{A big part of our late summer has been getting our irrigation lines run and our yard prepped for grass in Leavenworth.}

{The view from my favorite coffee shop in Leavenworth is incredible…}

{Grammy and Papa came to celebrate Hannah’s first birthday!}

{Hannah turned ONE!}

{Inspiration Playground in Bellevue is a favorite!}

{We had very few Seattle beach days this summer, but one of my favorites was when we met a few friends and had a pizza picnic on the beach with the kiddos.}

{This kid could spend all day digging in the sand.}

{Backyard water fun!}

{I remember this morning. Alex had to leave for work around 6 a.m., totally unexpectedly, so I piled the kids in the stroller and took Jackson for a long walk around the neighborhood. Notice Mount Rainier in the background. It was the best way to start the day.}

{We stumbled upon so many spectacular sites this summer. This beach on the Wenatchee River is at the top of the list for sure.}

{We had a few different families out to The Lodge this summer and had a blast spending more time with them.}

{Hannah turned into a toddler this summer!}

{One of the hidden beaches in our neighborhood in Seattle.}

{Grandpa Fred came for a visit in mid-August!}

{Hikes at Ski Hill in Leavenworth are extra special.}

{The grass is coming in at The Lodge and Ben loves playing baseball!}

{As the summer carried on we spent more and more time just playing outside in Leavenworth.}

{Our summer came to a close with our family trip to Wisconsin. More on that later!}

Ben is back in school now and fall is here in Seattle. Summer came to a halt after Labor Day and I wasn’t as prepared as I had hoped. I had really been expecting an Indian summer to precede our switch to autumn and that doesn’t seem to be the case. Here’s hoping for a fantastic fall to follow our summer!

 

Alex’s Belated Paternity Leave

After Hannah’s birth we were so fortunate that Alex was able to stay home for two weeks to bond with her and help out with the transition to having two kiddos. At that time he wasn’t eligible for his company’s paternity leave because he had only worked there for a few months. Thankfully, though, he was able to take the leave later on and we just wrapped up nearly 3 weeks of precious family time.

The time we had with Alex was about as good as it gets. We were able to spend so very much time together as a little family of four and make memories that will stay with me forever – I sure hope at least Ben remembers this time.

Alex’s vacation started on the 4th of July and ended the day after Hannah’s birthday and included a visit from Alex’s parents. We split our time between the mountains and Seattle.

At the start of Alex’s leave both of us were rattling off things we really wanted to do with the time and I’m so glad we had the foresight to come up with a plan for his leave. It would have been so disappointing to near the end and look back and think about all the things we hadn’t gotten to. Because of that, we were able to get to nearly everything we had hoped to.

Our time in the mountains felt like it lasted so, so long. Time passes so much slower out there and the pace of life is more manageable, it feels. We are able to fit so much into a single day, let alone the nearly two weeks we were there for.

Despite the unseasonably cool days in the Pacific Northwest earlier in the month we made it to the fabulous Leavenworth pool several times, took countless trips to Enchantment Park in town, walked the trail from the park into town, went to the beach at Lake Wenatchee State Park,fell in love with the Leavenworth Farmers Market, went hiking several times and relaxed at The Lodge. Alex even pulled both kiddos in the bike trailer. Our “vacation” ended with Hannah’s birthday celebration.

The time we spent in Seattle was just as special as it was in the mountains, though we were only there for five of the 18 days. Ben had bike camp every morning and I think Alex got a kick out of helping Ben ride his bike up there each day then coming back early to pick him up so he could watch Ben on his bike.

We had a really fun trip to the zoo, lots of park time, Alex took a nice bike ride and we enjoyed a few nice meals out and I was able to take some time to get a few things accomplished on my own.

Another highlight of our trip was Alex’s and my overnight in Seattle while the kids stayed at The Lodge with Grammy and Papa. The adult time was much needed. We were gone around 24 hours and enjoyed some patio time at Bottlehouse, a fabulous dinner at our favorite restaurant, Vendemmia, and a little more flexibility in our time.

{Side note: the following are the only two pictures we took during our time away. It’s funny how few pictures I take when the kids aren’t the focus!}

The best part for me, though, was seeing how much family bonding took place, in particular while we were in the mountains. Our time was so special. It was precious. It was perfect. We all knew that Alex’s increased presence was a treat and we indulged and just so enjoyed it. Hannah and Alex had some really, really special time, too, which is what it was all about.

We feel so grateful for this family time and have made so many memories and hopefully started a tradition that will last for years to come. We’re hoping to have a longer “staycation” every year where we can stay put in Seattle and/or Leavenworth and enjoy time together. I’m so, so glad that companies and our country are starting to offer paternity leave to new dads. There’s still a lot of work to do, in my opinion, to improve paid parental leave across the board, but I’m seeing progress and am so thankful for that.

{Waving bye bye to dada as he leaves for work….}

Lodge Life: Swing Set & Projects

Life at The Lodge has been filled with sunshine, family, lots of progress on outdoor progress and so much joy and dreaming of what’s to come.

The weather this spring has been absolutely perfect with sun just about every day and each day being warmer than the previous. We’re gearing up for the summer heat and preparing for wildfire season. Yes, the threat of wildfires is very, very real out there!

Alex’s parents have been staying at The Lodge since late April and they have been busy taking care of several outdoor projects. They’ve made tremendous progress on the property and have been coordinating appointments, deliveries and vendors. It’s been so nice having them there! More on that in another post.

Recently, my dad and brother flew out from Minnesota to build Ben and Hannah their very own swing set! I have such fond memories playing in my yard on the swing set my dad built me when I was a child and I wanted him to be a part of creating those memories for my children. It was an added bonus to have Uncle John come out and help too.

I knew my dad and John would be the right guys for the job, being that they’re both builders, – they got the whole swing set put together in a little over half a day. Needless to say, Ben and Hannah already love it and the memories are starting to be made.

{Climbing structure marks the spot!}

We opted to purchase a swing set kit and here is the one we chose. So far, I’m very happy with our choice. We added monkey bars and a bucket swing for our littles. There was a lot of angst around the shipping of this swing set and we were on pins and needles the whole week leading up to it – we were uncertain whether it would make it in time. It turns out, it did not! My dad and brother flew in very early from Minnesota, rented a pickup truck, drove 2.5 hours southeast of the Seattle airport to Yakima, picked up the swing set at UPS, then drove another 2 hours northwest to Leavenworth. Whew!

{Wood chips complete the swing set! It’s a nice thick base to make for soft landings.}

There will always be a project list at The Lodge, but it’s been so wonderful to feel like we’re accomplishing things. We truly wouldn’t be able to get these things done without our family, so we’re extremely grateful for their help. Thank you!!!

{Ben absolutely adores his two grandfathers!}

Lodge Life: Spring is Here!

Spring is in full force out at The Lodge and it’s been really fun watching the seasons transition and the snow melt away. We have little yellow avalanche lilies blooming in the forest in our yard and some tree sparrows building a nest just outside of our dining room table. All of the trees have little fresh bright green leaves starting to pop out signaling the new season. The rivers are roaring with all the snow melting and it really feels like spring out in the Cascades.

We’re learning all sorts of fun things in our new setting – there are lots of new bugs and birds, everyone has a truck, everyone has a tractor, the sun feels SO much warmer out there, it gets really dark in the mountains at night and it’s rather pleasant to have a rooster across the street. So far we’ve met quite a few of our neighbors and unsurprisingly, I’ve become a “local” and am proudly known by name at the coffee shop and the hot dog stand.

It’s been about 10 weeks since we moved in and we’ve spent all but two weekends up there, which is what we had hoped for. When we are at The Lodge our life slows down tremendously. We can relax, focus on our little family and embrace our surroundings.

Hiking is something Alex and I have grown quite fond of since moving to Washington. We kicked off the start of spring with a couple of local hikes we hadn’t done before.

There’s something about having a baby on my back that I just love. Hannah rode on my back in our little Ergo carrier and was content as could be.

We have a more real-deal hiking backpack for Ben, and we’ll eventually get a duplicate for Hannah. Both kids LOVE the hiking backpack – I think they enjoy being so high up.

I’m already building up a memory bank of moments I hope I never forget. This is what we’ve been dreaming about for most of our adult life. I feel like all of us are in our element out in the mountains.

Alex will wake up early with me so we can sit and have coffee together and get a few minutes before inevitably one of our littles wakes up. Both of them are typically up by 6, soooooo yeah.

Ben has been impressing me lately with his confidence and work ethic around mastering the art of the balance bike. He blew people away at the Leavenworth Pump Track when he would cruise the hilly bike track alongside big kids and adults.

Another favorite memory I have, though it ended with one of the most difficult parenting evenings ever, is of going for a walk on our quiet mountain street while Ben rode his bike alongside me. He was so excited, such a good listener and so proud. He waved at the neighbors, we stopped to see Dan the horse, and he made sure I was safe when cars would pass. It was lovely.

Alex and I love sitting on the deck watching Ben play with his excavator, climb on his climbing structure or throw the ball for Jackson. I’m so excited to see what memories we make there with Hannah, too, as she grows up there.

I have a bucket list going for things I’d like to do out in Leavenworth/the area this summer. Alex and I can’t wait to spend more time out there exploring. Here are a few things on my bucket list:

  • Go stand up paddle boarding in Lake Wenatchee
  • Hike a new trail
  • Swim in the town pool
  • Have a picnic in a picture-perfect spot down by the river
  • Visit Plain Cellars, a winery just down the street from us
  • Do a family 5K or 10K {need to find one!}
  • Do a half marathon {signed up for one in October!}

For now, we have much to look forward to this spring – Alex’s parents are here for the next month and we’re all excited to have more Grammy and Papa time. My dad and brother are heading out in a few weeks to help us build a playground for the kids, which of course will be SO fun. The memories and our life out here are really starting to take shape.

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.