Tag Archives: family

Extended Family Photo Shoot

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

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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.

Christmas 2017

Christmas this year was spent at our little home alongside Alex’s family. They all made the trek out to Seattle a few days before Christmas to celebrate the holiday, as well as Nico, our nephew’s, first birthday. We had a wonderful holiday season and were so glad to have had the company.

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The start of their trip was marked with some illnesses, which thankfully Alberto and Nico made a quick recovery from just in time to celebrate Nico’s birthday. We rearranged our plans a bit and spent our first full day together out in the mountains. We visited our lot and got to see it covered in snow, then we ended the very chilly day at Stevens Pass where Alex and Stan took a few runs.

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Santa came early to our house and brought Ben a pair of his very own skis! Alex and I couldn’t resist strapping them on his little Sorels and letting him test them out. We’re convinced he loved it because after we stopped moving he said “more” – a surefire sign he’s going to be a skier.

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Christmas Eve was extra special this year because we were celebrating Nico’s first birthday! As a bonus, the snow gods were on our sides again and we got a very unexpected surprise that afternoon – snow! It snowed and snowed, all through the night and we had ourselves a white Christmas.

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The theme of Nico’s birthday was “Llama Llama Red Pajama” after a very popular kids book that Nico loves. Donna found us all matching “fa la llama” shirts to wear to celebrate and we enjoyed a fun dinner of fondue and some really delicious birthday cake from Madison Park Bakery near our house.

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We awoke on Christmas morning to the beautiful sight of snow. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a white Christmas in Seattle. It was perfect. We had so much fun making new memories and enjoying watching Ben on Christmas morning. He was very excited to get a brand new slide, along with several other gifts. Alex and I used Christmas to get him some updated age-appropriate toys – we really hadn’t gotten him much since his first birthday and he has outgrown most of his other toys by now.

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Christmas Day was very low-key and relaxing. We had a fire, enjoyed cinnamon and orange rolls, the eggnog lovers sipped their eggnog, we played outside in the snow and had a prime rib dinner to finish out the day.

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Bright and early the next day, Alex, Alina, Alberto and I headed to Stevens Pass to get in some skiing while Ben and Nico stayed behind with their grandparents. It was a very chilly day on the mountain but we had a great time getting in some turns. It was too cold to take more photos…

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The boys seemed to have a great time with their grandparents and went on a fun outing to the playground. I can only imagine Donna and Stan are still exhausted from their big day with two toddlers!

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Our time together came to a quick end the following morning when everyone packed up and said their goodbyes. We are so grateful that our family came out to spend the holiday with us and that we had such a lovely time. Most wonderfully, though, was seeing how much Ben adored spending time with each of his family members. He is still talking about everyone a week later.

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Early December

This holiday season is shaping up to be quite a memorable one! Ben is at such a fun age to where he’s starting to understand so much that I think he’ll really get into things this year. We have a lot of holiday and seasonal activities planned – I can hardly wait to experience this holiday season with our family.

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Earlier this fall I bought a beautiful advent calendar. I received it in the mail and was floored at how gigantic it is. The advent calendars I grew up with were the cardboard kind where you open the window each day of advent and that was that. This new calendar had pockets for every day. I was completely thrown off by how to use this calendar and ended up deciding to fill each pocket with a holiday/seasonal activity for that day.

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It’s kind of nice because it forced me to sit down with my calendar and idea list and plot what I wanted to do when and really plan out the month of December. I came up with some really fun ideas and realized that there’s a lot we wanted to do and not that much time so it also brought me back to reality.

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One of our first advent activities was cutting down our Christmas tree, followed by decorating it the next day. We went to Trinity Tree Farm in Issaquah to cut down our tree this year. Last year we purchased a pre-cut tree from them. Last year’s tree was the most beautiful tree either one of us had ever had and this year’s blows last year’s out of the water. Our tree this year is stunning!

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We picked a very typical Pacific Northwest day to go get our tree. It was POURING. Thankfully we all had our rain boots and positive attitudes. Ben loved jumping in the puddles – right now he’s obsessed with water in all forms and couldn’t get over the act of puddle jumping.

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Alex was a true family hero when he tackled the acts of cutting down the tree and tying the tree on the car himself. It was a multi-person job managing Ben and it required both Edina and me to corral him and keep him from diving into a puddle headfirst. I saw photos of a friend of mine who has three kids under 5 and she and her husband brought their kids and their dog to cut down the tree {mind you, they didn’t also have an extra set of hands there like we did!} and they seemed to have managed just fine. I have no idea how.

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Decorating the Christmas tree was adorable. Ben really seemed to get the concept. While he didn’t really successfully hang any ornaments, he placed them on branches or he pointed out where he thought a good place for a pretty ornament would be. His favorite part, though, was climbing the step stool and being a little entertainer.

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I feel like we’re in pretty good shape for the holidays at this point. There’s a lot we need to do to prepare for the rest of the season and it is all so much fun!! This is by far our favorite time of year. We get so much joy in entertaining and spending time with family and friends, especially during the magical holiday season.

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Thanksgiving 2017

We certainly have a lot to be grateful for this year – and what a wonderful year it has been. One of the things I’m most thankful for is our family. I’m also so unbelievably grateful that we have had such an incredible nanny raising Ben alongside us for the last 14+ months who has become a part of our little family. I’m so grateful for the time we got to spend last week as a family. To me, the best part of the holidays is the immense time with family that comes with the season.

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Alex and I had quite a bit of time off of work to enjoy the holiday week together with Ben and Edina, as well as my mom, who came out for part of the week from Minnesota. We got to show my mom Ben’s school and one of the community centers he plays at, we all experienced the Seattle Gingerbread Village for the first time and we spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen preparing food for our Thanksgiving feast.

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Overall, it was a pretty low-key and relaxing holiday. The food turned out really well – my favorite was the sweet potato casserole, something I had never made before, nor was it a staple in my family’s Thanksgiving. I absolutely loved it. We tried some new recipes but stayed true to our turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing recipe. My mom and Edina were very helpful in the kitchen.

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On Saturday, Alex, Ben, Edina and I headed east over the mountains to Yakima to pick up some wine from our wine club before they close their doors for the winter. We bumped into our good friend Carrie and her family, including little Roslyn, at the winery, too!

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It felt really early according to the calendar, but after Alex did some major re-organizing, I pulled out my boxes of Christmas decorations and got our house ready for the season! Ben came with me to the garden store near us and helped me pick out a wreath and some pine boughs and I’ll pick up a garland this weekend. I think we’re ready!

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We ended the weekend with a really nice dinner over at my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Michael’s home, joined by my cousins and their families. It was so fun watching Ben and Henry {age 2.5} play together and see baby Claire {8 months} crawl around and join everyone at the table. We also walked down to the water to see the Christmas ships – there’s basically a boat parade with ships decked out in lights. We caught the tail end of it!

I was really sad to see all of our family time come to an end when we put Ben to bed on Sunday. I love our family time so much and it was extra special having so many days to spend together. Happy holidays!

Day Trip to Leavenworth

I have apparently fallen behind in keeping up our blog. Oopsies! In any case, a few weeks ago we took the opportunity to head out to Leavenworth to check on our property and see some snow. It was such a wonderful day – Edina joined us and we got to play in the snow, eat sausage and spend time together.

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We made an impromptu coffee/stretch stop at Stevens Pass. Alex and I were visualizing our future here – we’re so excited to get Ben started with ski lessons in a couple years {we’re thinking age 3 for lessons} and it’s so fun imagining family ski days up at Stevens.

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Our timing ended up coinciding with our land surveyor – we crossed paths with him while he was at our property marking off the lot lines. Alex got to help him out a bit and we learned that our lot lines were a little different than we expected, in a very good way. We were able to pick the spot on the property where our house will be built.

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It was pretty rainy when we were on our lot so the views weren’t anything like what they are on a crisp, clear day, but man, it is so gorgeous over there. I still feel like I need to pinch myself every time we go to our lot.

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We couldn’t go all the way to Leavenworth without going into town for some sausage. Plus, Edina had never been there before so we had to show her around. We strolled the town, enjoyed delicious sausages from our favorite spot, grabbed a coffee for the drive home, then packed up and headed west.

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It was a very quick trip and a lot of time for Ben to be in the car {thankfully he had his buddy in the back seat keeping him company} and we all had a really memorable time!

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**All of these photos are courtesy of Edina’s fancy new iPhone — part of my lack of keeping the blog updated this month is because my phone storage is full and I haven’t been taking many photos. Alex’s and my new iPhones are expected to arrive next week!

More Fall Fun!

In preparation for Halloween this week we decided to get Ben dressed up in his adorable monkey costume as many times as possible. We started the weekend at Alex’s work’s family Halloween festival on Friday and ended it at Remlinger Farms pumpkin patch/autumn festival today.

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Just getting used to his Halloween costume…

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We all seemed to come down with a little stomach bug this week. Thankfully it was fairly short-lived and rather mild. Unfortunately for me, it hit me about 7 minutes after this {above} photo was taken – live, right in the middle of Alex’s work campus. Ugh. We all bounced back quickly and are a-ok now.

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Sunday morning we were feeling better and drove out to Carnation, Washington to Remlinger Farms, with Edina, our nanny, to enjoy some fall fun.

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Ben ate a whole mini doughnut all in one bite…..

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We loved all that Remlinger Farms had to offer, especially this fantastic train! It was a real train that took us for a 15ish minute ride around the farm.

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Ben loved the hay bale maze!

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And got to try his first amusement park ride!

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Ben and Edina! He loves her so so much.

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I knew just how to get the giggles out! This little monkey is ready for Halloween! 🙂

*all of the good photos courtesy of Edina!

Midwest Tour

Our last big trip of the summer is now behind us. We just returned home from a whirlwind 12-day trip to the Midwest {and Mexico for Alex!}. We covered a lot of ground, including my hometown and family cabin, Alex’s family’s lake home, his parents home and Chicago. It was really nice to spend time with our families and for Ben to get to hang out with his grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousin, as well as quite a few of our friends.

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The trip started on a Thursday – Alex flew to San Diego as a staging area to head to Mexico the following day while Ben and I headed to Minnesota just 15 minutes ahead of Alex. Alex spent a long weekend down in Ensenada, Mexico, which is in Baja, to attend the wedding of our friends Justin and Tania. He said it was absolutely gorgeous!

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Our flight was a piece of cake, with the exception of a very rude Delta flight attendant {this was a good reminder of why we fly Alaska!}, and Ben was a rock star. He slept for about half of the flight and the other half he was completely content with snacking and doing some activities.

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For most of our time in Minnesota we stayed with my mom. Ben loved her “kitty cat” and the pool in her backyard, naturally. We spent a lot of time checking out different playgrounds, experiencing the farmers market and going to the beach. Ben and I enjoyed a nice dinner on the deck of my brother’s new house – it was really nice to get to see his new place and spend time with John and his girlfriend, Becky.

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I had some of my friends from high school and their families come over for an afternoon in the pool one day. It’s so fun to see all the kids together – between six of us we have 9 kids altogether with another on the way!

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Another highlight of our time in Minnesota was our trip up to my dad’s family cabin. The cabin has been in his family since the 1930s and holds a lot of memories! It was so fun taking Ben up there and watching him cruise around, explore and play with my brother’s old Tonka trucks. He even got to go for a dip in the lake and take a couple of paddle boat rides with me.

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After a really fun time in Mexico, Alex came and met us in Minnesota late Monday night, five days into our trip. We spent our last day in Minnesota together with my family before hitting the road for the 5-hour drive to Alex’s parents lake home in southern Wisconsin.

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It was so relaxing being at the lake – Ben loved some fun new toys that Grammy and Grandpa had for him to play with, and he loved seeing his cousin Nico, who is 6 months younger than he is. We went for boat rides, Ben played in the kiddie pool and we all enjoyed our time together. To top it off, it was absolutely perfect summer lake weather.

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Throughout the trip Ben continued to impress me with his ability to adapt to new situations and new people. While he didn’t sleep very well the whole trip {who can blame him!?}, he continued to remain his normal sweet, friendly self during the day and loved spending more time with his extended family. While we were on the trip his first molar started to poke through and he got a cold. Despite the recipe for disaster he managed to hold it together and was such a happy camper the whole trip.

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On Friday afternoon Alex and I headed to Chicago, leaving Ben in Wisconsin with Alex’s parents. We had a wedding in the city to attend, where Alex was a groomsman. We stayed right downtown in the Loop in a great location and a beautiful hotel and had a really nice time catching up with many of Alex’s friends from high school.

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Alex was occupied on Saturday with wedding stuff, so I met up with Alina and Nico for a leisurely stroll through Restoration Hardware, followed by a wonderful lunch in their courtyard restaurant. We took a nice walk through part of the city before I headed to the wedding.

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On Sunday morning Alex and I had a little time together to take a walk to Millennium Park and be tourists for a few minutes. Then we headed to his parents home to spend the afternoon with Alex’s family before we had to leave to get back to Seattle the next day. We got to see Nana, Alex’s grandma {and our only surviving grandparent}, and spend more time with his parents, Alina, Alberto and Nico, as well as Alex’s uncle Mike.

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All in all, our trip was really, really nice. We loved seeing our families and getting to spend so much time with them. It’s so fun watching Ben in new spaces and getting to know his grandparents and other family members. It’s such a fun time right now and it was so special sharing that with our family and friends.

Summer Time!

This has been one of my most memorable summers ever. Our little family filled it up with hours upon hours at the playground, trips to the beach, Friday strolls through the farmers market, walks with the dog, regional travel {and bigger trips for Alex} and a whole slew of new experiences. When you step back and look at it, many of the experiences with Ben were pretty standard and low-key, and even so, they were so memorable for me. We kicked off summer with a bang out in Leavenworth where we celebrated Ben’s first birthday over Memorial Day weekend.

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One of my favorite summer Friday traditions became going to Madison Park, the neighborhood just to the north of ours, and either hitting the beach or the playground {often both!}, stopping at the bakery for mama’s coffee and to grab some pastries for Saturday morning. Then we’d go down to the farmers market in the afternoon and pick up some produce and gorgeous flowers.

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When summer started, Ben was a pro-crawler who loved going in the swings at the park. Quickly he warmed up to the sandbox and grew to love playing in the sand and observing the big trucks or other older kids.

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By the end of the summer Ben knew how to walk so he was able to cruise around independently at the park. He began to climb the play structures, push around the dump trucks or the tricycle, and still has a soft spot for the swing. We continuously say that the playground has become our second home. We spent close to 2 hours per day there – we are so grateful to have such a nice playground so close to our house.

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His favorite park past time, though, still remains playing with the wood chips… And yes, he is generally without one shoe. I don’t understand how he can get his shoe off so quickly. One time I counted that I put it back on 13 times before I gave up.

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We didn’t make it out on too many hikes this summer, but the ones we did get on were great! We love our new hiking backpack and look forward to getting plenty of use out of it.

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Per usual, we squeezed in some travel. Alex attended three bachelor parties and had some travel for work, so he wins the award for the most summer trips. Ben and I met Alex up in Vancouver for a night, which was a real highlight for me. Otherwise, Alex and I took a trip just the two of us to Sonoma, then we had a family trip to Seabrook, Washington.

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{Enjoying a walk through Vancouver!}

{Enjoying a walk through Vancouver!}

{Vancouver highlight: the pool at the Fairmont!}

{Vancouver highlight: the pool at the Fairmont!}

{Seabrook on the Washington coast}

{Seabrook on the Washington coast}

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Ben became quite fond of water over the summer. We spent many a day on the beach, at an outdoor pool or a kids wading pool or in our backyard playing with the kiddie pool or splash pad. Ben loves to splash around and appears to be fearless. I’m hoping to get him into a swimming program this fall.

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Ben also got to go on his first boat ride this summer! He seemed to really enjoy it and everyone who was there agreed we had never seen him be so still.

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Summer is unofficially ending today… I will always look back so, so fondly on the many memories our little family created together. This was a summer to remember forever.

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