Tag Archives: mountains

The Hole

In the midst of a crazy week last week we got some unexpected news from our builder that he was breaking ground on our lot out in the mountains! We knew it was bound to happen sometime in the next month or two and were anxiously awaiting the news – it still caught us off guard and seemed to happen really fast!

In any case – Alex and I drove out to our property just outside the town of Leavenworth, about two hours east of Seattle, over the weekend to check out the “hole” in the ground and make sure the excavator put it in the right spot.

It is darn perfect. The house will be nestled in the evergreens, facing out on a bluff atop a river overlooking the valley. I’m not sure how it all came together so smoothly but seeing that hole made it feel all the more real to me. If everything comes together as expected we should be in the house before Christmas, which was what we were really hoping for.

{The view from our future deck – even on a rainy spring day it sure is nice to look at!}

This mountain home will be life changing for us and our little, growing family as well as our extended family and we are so grateful that things are coming together as well as they are. We can’t wait for Ben and his little sister to be able to grow up spending so much time in the mountains.

Fun Family Weekend

It was so nice to have a low-key, stress-free weekend together as a family. We so love our time together and we savored some special moments this last weekend, just the three of us.

Alex and I started the weekend with our Valentine’s dinner {a couple days late!} at Vendemmia, our favorite restaurant in our neighborhood. The food and the company was wonderful. We had a really, really nice night and are looking forward to our next date night.

The weather on Saturday morning left much to be desired and we had no agenda. Quick thinking led us to the Museum of Flight. We had been wanting to take Ben there because he’s obsessed with airplanes, so this weekend proved to be the perfect time.

He’s definitely at the minimum age where a kid would get much from the museum, and I think he really enjoyed it. He got to sit in a few retired airplanes, push a lot of buttons all over the place, color a picture of a rocket, run up the aisle of a passenger airplane and check out airplanes spanning all the decades since the Wright brothers brought us airplanes. And he got to pick out an airplane key chain for his special keys {no kidding – his favorite toy is his own set of keys}.

During the weekends it’s nice to take family walks with Jackson – it’s a bit more challenging for us all to do that during the week. Lately Ben has been less and less interested in spending much time in his stroller, so that’s interesting. He requested “walk” when we were at the turnaround point of our walk {i.e. the farthest point from home}. Alex decided to oblige and Ben walked the rest of the way home {ten blocks} and split the walk by helping mama push the stroller or running alongside dada.

Our evening on Saturday was really nice, too – we went over to our neighbor’s house for dinner. They have a four month-old boy and we really, really enjoy them. Ben was super sweet with their baby and was rocking him in his little chair, smiling at him and pointing out his body parts. It was so fun to see him interacting so sweetly with another baby. We’re so excited for him to be a big brother!

The weekend wrapped up with a little trip to the mountains to enjoy some crisp, sunny weather. We went cross country skiing and spent some time playing in the snow. Of course Ben had the opportunity to do some skiing of his own, too.

We stopped for lunch at a cute restaurant on the way home, then curled up in mama and dada’s bed with Jackson and Henry {!!!} for a family nap. Despite the fact that Ben woke up with a little fever it was a very wonderful weekend with our little family.

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!

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Holy cats! August is shaping up to be NUTS for us. We have SO much going on this month it’s going to be hard to keep up! I even started writing in our calendar who is taking which car on what days so that we can manage everything right down to the nitty gritty details.

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We started off the month by buying a piece of land over in Leavenworth, a quaint mountain town about 2 hours from Seattle that we spend a lot of time visiting. We’ve been looking for a vacation home in the mountains to share with Alex’s parents for more than a year and recently decided to change course and build a house.

{The view from our new property!}

{The view from our new property that overlooks a field with a giant rock wall and mountains in the background.}

{This is where we expect the house to go.}

{This is where we expect the house to go.}

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We’re elated to have found a beautiful, flat 3.1 acre property to call our own! We expect to close at the end of the month and will likely start building next summer. We had hoped to break ground this fall if possible, but it seems like holding off until next year makes more sense. We don’t want to rush into it too much. That means, though, that we might be spending Christmas 2018 in our new mountain house! More on this to come later, I’m sure.

{Holding up his computer after signing the offer we made on the lot! We were so excited!}

{Holding up his computer after signing the offer we made on the lot! We were so excited!}

In other news, lately Alex has been suggesting that we should get Ben some more socialization with other kids during the day. While he gets out to the playground most days and story time at least once a week and a play date most weeks he doesn’t have the same social experiences that he would have if he went to daycare.

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I’ve got no qualms about daycare, it simply works better for our schedules to have the flexibility of a nanny. So, after scouring the Internet and polling some of my mama friends, we have enrolled Ben in a preschool co-op that starts in September. This preschool has “classes” for one year olds where it’s basically unstructured play time together {they have more formal classes for 2, 3 and 4-year olds). The class meets twice a week for 90 minutes each day. Not too big of a commitment. I’m really looking forward to starting – because it’s a co-op, all families have to get involved to help run the school, so I’m excited to meet other parents in the area and get Ben some time with other kids. Buuttttt that also means that each family has a “job” {I’m the designated “worker” in our family} sooooo you’re looking at either the new Halloween party planner, spring picnic party planner or sunshine chair!

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Another child care note worth mentioning is that our nanny has left us for a three week trip. We’ve got backup care scheduled, but you never know how that will turn out. I have a feeling it’ll be a mama + Ben month.

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Nearly a year ago, now, we started going to our parents group, called PEPS {Program for Early Parent Support}, which met once a week for 12 weeks. We built a really nice community with other families close by who have babies the same age as Ben. The PEPS organization asked if I’d be interested in facilitating a new group and because we didn’t have enough going on, I said yes! Despite our crazy schedules I’m really, really looking forward to leading a PEPS group, which starts in a couple weeks. It will be one evening per week where I get to facilitate a meeting between 8 families with newborns. It will be so fun to think back to those crazy days with a newborn!

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Alex has two bachelor parties to attend this month – one in Whistler and one down in Portland. So, it’s really going to be a mama + Ben month!

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The weather has been hot, hot, hot lately. We’ve had this really weird smog clouding the region the last 10 days from wildfires up in British Columbia. I heard that our air quality right now is worse than Beijing! We can’t hardly see across the lake and you can literally see the smoke clinging to sights off in the distance. It’s really strange. That being said, I haven’t gone for any runs in the last week and Alex hasn’t ridden his bike, so we’re ready for the heat wave to break and the smoke to clear! I’m ready for fall!

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Baby Madeline’s Visit

Baby Madeline and her parents, Sarah and Mike, came to visit us this past weekend from Minnesota. It was so fun to have another baby in our house for Ben to play with all weekend long. Both babes did well and really hammed it up for us! Madeline has the sweetest cheesy smile. I couldn’t get enough of it!

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Sarah and I grew up together and have been friends for a very long time. Somehow it happened that we got to go through pregnancy and now the stages of motherhood together – Ben and Madeline were due a day apart last summer.

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Both babies were born before their due dates and are 5 weeks apart. It was really neat to see how different of babies Ben and Madeline are. They are both super sweet and cuddly, and the biggest difference I noticed is that Madeline sits still!

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Alex and I were so shocked at the fact that they could just plop Madeline down anywhere and she’d stay still and take in her surroundings. Even as young as 3 or 4 months, Ben’s little legs and feet or arms would be moving and shaking. He’s really never sat still and always wanted to be moving.

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The weather held out for their trip pretty well, surprisingly. We managed to squeeze in quite a few activities during the long weekend.

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Sarah and I strolled through the arboretum with the babes on Friday while Mike was spending time with his friend. Coincidentally the best man from their wedding also lives in Seattle {I was their matron of honor}. The weather was gorgeous and it made it a perfect afternoon to spend outside.

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The clouds rolled in on Saturday and we headed slightly east to Woodinville for lunch and to do some wine tasting. We tried some new wines and had a great time.

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We ended the evening with a trip to Westland Distillery, a whiskey distillery in the SODO neighborhood. Sarah and Mike {and Alex too} really like whiskey so it was a fun place to stop off.

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The babies did so well on the outing! It was really fun to get out with them and see, at least for Alex and me, how well Ben did on a full-day adventure.

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Our true adventure happened on Sunday. We braved the weather and headed for the mountains to do a hike at Twin Falls. Aside from a few minutes where it was sunny, it was lightly sprinkling throughout most of the hike. That didn’t stop us from lacing up our boots and hitting the trails. It was extremely gorgeous – the hike was fairly easy and followed a roaring river and winded through furry green trees. There were some beautiful views of the falls at the end. It didn’t disappoint.

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After a really nice visit, Sarah, Mike and Madeline headed home on Monday. We loved having them here to play with Ben and to spend time together. We’re grateful for technology so that we can keep each other up-to-date with lots of photos and even FaceTime on occasion.

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Whistler Vacation

Whistler is one of Alex’s and my favorite places to visit and ski. The village is adorable and the mountains are extraordinary – Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America! We thought it would be the perfect destination for our first family-of-three vacation. Alex and I hadn’t been there together since 2013, though I was there last winter with my dad. While the trip was very different than we expected, we had a great time and we’re scheming on making an annual family Whistler trip every winter.

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Our trip began on Friday morning – we had gotten pretty much everything packed up the night before and were hoping to wake up and load up the car and then hit the road before Ben took his morning nap so that he could snooze in the car. The timing worked out really well, but I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a train. I was operating at about 20% and that’s being generous. Alex took one for the team and by some miracle we were out the door by 9 and Ben quickly fell asleep, as did I.

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The drive to Whistler is 4.5 to 5 hours, depending on Vancouver traffic and border wait times. Once you pass through Vancouver the drive is absolutely breathtaking along the Sea to Sky highway. Sadly I did not enjoy any part of the drive other than when it was over. By then I was feeling better but not 100% {by the next morning I was fine}.

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This was going to be our “big vacation” and we had reserved a condo for a full week – Friday to Friday. We scheduled a babysitter for three days so that Alex and I could ski. In addition to downhill skiing we brought our cross country gear so that we could take Ben out too. We’ve heard from several friends that there is a lot to do with babies in Whistler and we were really excited to experience that first-hand.

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The condo we stayed at had a really good location for being a young family in Whistler, though it wasn’t as close to the lifts as we had hoped. It was situated just outside the village, quite close to the Olympic Plaza, which has a skating rink, a sledding hill, and a playground. It was also near the library, a grocery store, several coffee shops and other great restaurants. Next time we visit we’d opt for a place closer to the gondola and more in the heart of the village.

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Our first full day was great – the sun was out and it had snowed a few inches overnight. Perfect for exploring the village and doing some sledding!

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Day two was scheduled as a ski day. We requested a babysitter through a local service, confirmed with her the night before and much to our surprise, she never showed up! Our “Plan B” was pretty okay and we spent another day in the village and went cross country skiing.

{Coffee on the couch instead of skiing!}

{Coffee on the couch instead of skiing!}

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{Coffee on the couch quickly turned into boozy hot drinks on the patio…}

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{We skied around Lost Lake – it was a short 2.5 mile trail and by the time we made the first loop the trail was getting icy so we opted to call it quits. This trail was a little more hilly than the one we’re used to at home and I wasn’t very comfortable going downhill with Ben on my back.}

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We were able to flex our skiing schedule a little bit and the babysitting service managed to switch us to a different gal who did show up on Monday morning so we could go skiing. Alex and I were more apprehensive about leaving Ben with a babysitter than we expected – something about a stranger and being in another country, not to mention we were going to be skiing, was a little weird. Once she arrived in the morning she put our nerves at ease and we hit the slopes.

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What ended up being our one and only ski day was terrific. We skied our hearts out! We skied on Blackcomb Mountain and covered it top to bottom. The sun was out, the snow was soft and we were ripping it up. The combination of being there on a Monday at the end of March meant we skied right on to the lifts every run – we got so many runs in that we found the time to take a much needed coffee break.

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{One of our favorite areas was the new Crystal chair – we found some powder pockets and skied in an area that had been hit by a forest fire, which provided a perfect gladed run through the trees with some nice soft bumps.}

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At the end of our ski day we were very happy to get back to a content Ben who had a great day with his Aussie babysitter. She offered to come watch him the next evening for us, so we happily took her up on that so we could have a date night together. We went out for a glass of wine first and then headed to a fancy restaurant for dinner. It was a great night!

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Taking Ben to restaurants is totally hit or miss {mostly miss right now} – he’s got to be in the right mood and he’s not particularly fond of sitting still {just like his mama!} so it’s not always fun for anyone. If we can get him in the right mood he’ll just sit there and munch on a pickle or a french fry or whatever we’ve got in a similar shape/size. But mostly he just wants to get down and crawl around and say hello to the other diners.

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We had some really terrific food while we were in Whistler. In past years Whistler has not been my favorite ski town for good food but it’s starting to move up the ranks. Some of our favorites were a bakery called Pure Bread {should have been named “Heaven”}, an adorable creparie called Crepe Montagne, as well as Araxi and Basalt, where we went out for our date night.

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Wednesday ended up being our last day in Whistler, though we were booked until Friday. Ben somehow contracted hand, foot and mouth disease which is a really awful and highly contagious virus that’s very common in young children. After a couple hours Wednesday morning we pulled the plug and started packing up to go home. Since home is so close for us we thought we’d all be more comfortable there and saw no point in staying in Whistler.

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The drive home was slightly better than expected, though I spent most of it in the back seat with Ben so I could be there if he needed some comfort, which he undoubtedly did. On the drive home we decided to stop at the famous Tim Hortons because we had heard it is the cat’s meow. Turns out it’s Canada’s version of Dunkin’ Donuts and we’d have been much better off stopping just about anywhere else. Otherwise, the car ride home was mostly uneventful and we made great time. We were fortunate to arrive home to a clean house with banana bread in the oven – our nanny stayed at our house while we were gone.

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All in all, even though our trip was very different than we had expected, we had a terrific time and I’ll look back on it with many positive memories. We’re excited to get back up to Whistler!

Day in the Mountains

Alex’s dad has been out here for the long holiday weekend and was itching to go cross country skiing. We headed to our trusty spot at Hyak out at Snoqualmie Pass and showed him where we’ve been going this winter.

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The weather was pretty good – it was rather warm. Mother Nature was having a hard time deciding whether it should snow or rain, and thankfully for us she primarily opted for the former.

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We had a great day getting some fresh mountain air and stretching our legs. Now if only we had a hot tub to come back and soak in…

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Another Ski Day!

Last weekend Alex and I headed to the mountains for our second ski day of the season. We timed it well because it ended up being a bluebird day {skier speak for a sunny day 😉 } – the weather was perfect and the conditions were pretty great for the most part.

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Powder Bowl and the King are poking out behind us… Crystal Mountain is our absolute favorite place to ski. The terrain and opportunities are limitless! Whistler Blackcomb comes in at a very close second, followed by Jackson Hole and Snowbird. Oh, and Snowbasin is awesome too. We’re pretty spoiled with incredible mountains nearby, I guess!

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Mount Rainier was out in all her glory. We saw Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens and Mount Baker, too! Everybody came out to enjoy the day.

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The view from the top of the High Campbell area. This is an incredible part of the mountain to ski, but it’s experts only. I opted to not venture up there last season during my pregnancy so we had a great time exploring the terrain last weekend.

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We have our nanny lined up for one more ski day in March and we are taking a week-long ski trip to Whistler later this season, as well. I’d love to get at least 5 days of skiing in this year!

The Happenings

It’s amazing how quickly things are changing around here. Ben is now 7 1/2 months old and I’m really pretty floored at how different things are today than they were three weeks ago when I was writing my post about him turning 7 months old.

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Our daily routine is in constant flux based on what’s going on with Ben – he’s been sleeping so much better overnight {we’ve been getting 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep lately!!!!!} these last few weeks and that has dramatically changed his napping schedule. This impacts my mornings because now instead of napping from 7:30-8:15 or 8:30 he’s awake until 8:45 or so and I get to hang out with him and feed him breakfast. He’ll still take one or two other good naps later in the day.

{Ben has grown to love his high chair! It's made it easier for me to adjust to his new morning routine of being awake longer.}

{Ben has grown to love his high chair! It’s made it easier for me to adjust to his new morning routine of being awake longer.}

For quite some time Ben was practicing sitting up on his own. Sitting is so much more arbitrary than rolling over because it’s hard to determine the point where he could truly sit. We’ve called it, though, and Ben is definitely sitting now. He hasn’t gotten himself into a seated position yet, but when we plop him down he stays put.

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Ben is working on figuring out how to scoot. He can move around his play mat by rolling and doing tiny scoots. He’s got a ways to go before he can crawl, but I have a feeling that’s not too far off. In preparation for Ben to be able to move we’ve purchased a rug for our kitchen to cover our splintery floor. We still need one for the hallway and we need to look into a baby gate, but I think we’ll slowly be ready for him to be on the move…

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Over the weekend Ben started babbling a TON. He’s been “talking” for a long time but mostly he’ll just make noises, particularly when he’s tired. This new babbling is so sweet – he’s putting together consonants and is starting to blend sounds. A lot of them are “da” sounds, so he says “da da da da da” a lot now. It’s adorable.

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As of last weekend Ben weighed 16 pounds 8 ounces {which is the 9th percentile for weight for his age}. He’s just about to bust out of the size 2 diapers. He’s wearing size 6-9 month clothing right now but some of the onesies are already starting to get tight in the length! I can’t believe it. He hasn’t been in this size hardly 3 weeks! Ben has gigantic feet – he’s wearing 12-24 month socks right now. Wonder where he gets that from… 😉

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We have several friends with babies the same age as Ben and it’s been so fun to hear what they’re up to and see how differently the babies progress. About a week ago we met up with most of the families from our parents group and got to catch up with them. I actually watched one of the babies recently on the mama’s first day back to work – it didn’t go as well as I had hoped {horrible actually!}. Ben was not excited to have another baby demanding my attention and both of them had close to a 2 hour meltdown simultaneously!

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Overall, Ben is a really happy kiddo. He smiles a lot and when he gets excited he kicks his feet and waves his hands. Basically he’s always moving! That’ll be interesting when he can crawl and walk…

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Sometimes Ben can be a whiny baby, but thankfully not very often! Normally that happens when he doesn’t nap well, but surprisingly, a lot of times he’s able to rally and still be chipper even while tired during the day. Last Friday and Saturday were not two of those days…

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A couple weeks ago we took Ben in to see an occupational therapist as a check-up from his time in the NICU. It was a very cool appointment! She basically sat on the floor playing with him deliberately to see what his capabilities and limitations were. He was SUPER tired and still managed to do well and perform within the “normal” range for his adjusted age (so that of a fresh 6 month old). He scored highest on the gross motor skills {things like picking up toys – small movements}. We almost wish she would have used his actual age to assess him because we don’t typically “adjust” his age.

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We’ve been loving getting out in the mountains with Ben lately. It’s such a fun thing that we enjoy doing together as a family. Now that Ben is getting older we’re really trying to introduce him to new experiences.

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Alex and I are still getting out one night a week for dinner just the two of us. It’s a really nice tradition to have and it allows us to catch up and get out of the house together. Both of us have started going out with friends a little more too – recently we both, separately, went out with some friends. It had been quite a while since I had met a girl friend for a glass of wine, but it’s happened twice this month! We’ve also both been making the time to exercise more regularly. That has been awesome! We’re really starting to feel like we’re in a good groove these days. It took a little while but I think we’ve figured it out… for now! 🙂

Mom & Dad’s Ski Day

Can I just say I really don’t love referring to myself in the third person? It’s kind of obnoxious and I fully intended on not doing that but one day it crossed my mind that Ben almost never heard of me referred to as “mama” so I caved. And every time I refer to myself as “mama” I cringe but hope it means he’ll know what to call me one day soon…… and then I’ll resume being an adult who can form a grammatically correct sentence…..

Anyway! Last weekend our wonderful nanny signed on to watch Ben for an extra day so that Alex and I could high tail it to the mountains for a ski day just the two of us. It was really strange leaving Ben for so long when Alex and I were going off to do something together but we knew he was in good hands and he kept Edina entertained.

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The forecast was predicting a powder day for us on Sunday. Unfortunately mother nature and the meteorologists were not on the same page, as is usually the case in Seattle. We got a little snow and a lot of wind. So much wind that the upper mountain was closed all day. Knowing the mountain well came in handy! There are some sneaky, awesome runs that most people don’t know about that we got to explore.

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While the terrain was quite limited, the snow was actually really nice. We had a couple of great runs and both of us got to make a few powder turns, too! It felt so nice to be back on skis again. Even though our runs were limited we were really glad we were able to get out.

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This year we won’t be clicking into our downhill skis nearly as much as we have in the past but we have made arrangements with our nanny to watch Ben once a month for the rest of the winter so we can ski. We’ve also got a ski trip planned for later this season. Cross country skiing seems to be a good supplement/compromise and we’re a-okay with that! We’re just happy to be able to spend time in the mountains.