Tag: Ben

December Update of All The Things

Happy (almost) Christmas! I’m busy hiding from most of the internet this weekend due to the recent release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Brian and I have a babysitter scheduled Monday afternoon so we can see it and are trying very hard to avoid spoilers until then.

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas has flown by, like it usually does. Brian and I went to WordCamp US in Philadelphia at the beginning of the month and it seems to have taken the two weeks between our return from that trip and today for me to fully grasp being at home again. I’ll write more about that trip in another post.

It has been chilly but without any snow so we’ve been spending lots of time inside at home, avoiding all stores unless absolutely necessary. We’ve bought all gifts, planned all gatherings, and are excited to celebrate Christmas with our boys. Each Christmas season is more thrilling than the last as our boys grow and understand more about what is going on around them. Ben was nearly beside himself when we let him decorate the big Christmas tree one evening after Teddy went to bed.

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This is our first year having a full-size tree in this house and I love it!
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Ben made up so many stories about the ornaments he hung on the tree. “Grammy gave me this one.” “This one is mine.”
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So many of our family activities happen around the Christmas tree during December
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This guy is growing so much but still isn’t walking! He’s just over 14 months, growing more steady on his feet every day, loves to get into his brother’s stuff, and chatters a ton about “E-I,” kitties, Dada, Mama, snacks, and more. He signs often and has picked up several on his own from watching Baby Einstein
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Every. Single. Day
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Ben had his first dentist appointment and did an incredible job! We’re very proud of who he is growing up to be
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Fuzzy babies are the snuggliest babies
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60 degrees in December means we walk to the playground and spent lots of time outside (until it gets cold again, of course)
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Teddy caught another cold and passed it along to me. I don’t mind the snuggles though

November Catch-Up

I hadn’t intended for there to be nearly a month of radio silence around here. November ended up being a fairly chaotic month since all 4 of us spent some time being sick, Teddy got new teeth, and we worked around the house. Here’s what we’ve done since Halloween:

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I’ve attempted to dress Teddy up in costumes and cute outfits as often as possible
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Being sick is hard on everyone!
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Baby McFly is cheesin’ (also saying “chee” because he knows a few words now!)
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We worked on fall crafts in our casual in-home preschool lessons
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We walked grumpy babies until they fell asleep
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And fed them snacks. Nothing makes this boy happier than a full water bottle and a post-nap snack
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Science experiment with baking soda and colored vinegar
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Ben loves to hop on stage after church and play with the drum kit
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We enjoyed a week of incredibly gorgeous weather and played outside as much as we could (until the sun went down at 5 pm, of course)
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We went “camping” in the basement
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Camping made being stuck at home while dealing with colds a little easier on everyone
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Teddy’s favorite activities are putting the top back on an empty bottle and poking plastic milk tops into the opening of a wipes box. We’re working on those motor skills!
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???? Brothers!
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We had our first snowfall
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Ben built his first snowman (with Brian’s help)
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We have intentionally set aside time to play as a family because we know it’s all too easy to let work and other obligations take over

 

Wreck it, wreck it Ralph, just as fast as you can

Earlier this year, Ben fell in love with the movie Wreck-it-Ralph, which was ok with us because we love it too! If you haven’t seen it, we definitely recommend you check it out.

There was no contest when it came to picking Halloween costumes this year. Ben had to be Wreck-it-Ralph and that meant Teddy had to be Fix-it-Felix. I like costumes for small kids that are as close to normal clothes as possible (to minimize potential issues with my strong-willed 3 year old) and am really pleased how well the costumes came together. We even figured out how to fit Ben’s raincoat under his plaid shirt!

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You’d be as surprised as I am when I tell you that he kept his hat on both times he wore his costume!
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Ben told me that he needed “a Wreck-it-Ralph medal but I have to find it myself.” Ben did find it (at a party store)
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All photos by Brian

Brothers Say Good Morning

  

One of Ben’s first stops every morning is Teddy’s room. “Good Mawlin, Teddy!” he says cheerfully. Teddy lights up and squeals with excitement. 

Just another start to another day with two crazy, adorable, loveable boys. 

(Just to add a small dose of reality, Ben completely melted down at the store yesterday because Teddy grabbed and ripped the ad Ben was playing with. “Teddy ripped my menu!” They are far from perfect but the dynamics of their relationship fascinate me.)

Day in the Life: 2 Years and 3 Months Edition

Now that life has settled down a little and we have a tenuous schedule again, I wanted to write another day in the life post, mostly for my own benefit. I get a kick out of looking back at these months and years down the road and reminisce about life with younger babies. I had high hopes that I’d remember to take enough photos throughout the day that it wouldn’t be all text but nope, that definitely didn’t happen.

4:15 AM: My day starts far earlier than I’d like when Teddy starts grunting in his bed next to mine. I had slept pretty deeply though so this wasn’t the worst wake up I’ve ever had. I feed the baby, put him back in his bed, and fall back asleep.

6:15 AM: Again, Teddy? Teddy lets me know that he is awake by talking to himself and loudly filling his diaper. I pray that a diaper change and another meal will put him back to sleep for a little while. It does! I don’t want to move him back to his bed because he would surely wake up again so I settle myself next to him and doze off.

7:30 AM: Teddy is still sleeping but I can hear Ben shuffling around in his room. Ben knocks on his door when he is ready for us to get him up so I have time to check email and Twitter. Brian is gone at Pressnomics right now so I don’t have backup for mornings and evenings.

7:50 AM: Ben knocks and Teddy is still sleeping. I slide out of bed, leaving Teddy sound asleep and let Ben out of his room. I change a gross diaper and get his breakfast while cleaning up the kitchen and listening for Teddy.

8:00 AM: Ben requests to watch Toy Story 3 and since we don’t have any plans to leave the house today, a long movie isn’t going to throw off the day. He also wants some frozen veggies to snack on. Weird, yes, but my thought is that he likes how cold they are on his gums. We’re all ready for him to be done teething!

8:30 AM Teddy wakes up and goes to play in his activity gym while I drink a chai latte and start this post from the floor next to the baby. I also complete a few surveys since my computer is out and the boys are happy. Brian thinks the surveys are silly since they don’t amount to much cash flow but over the years, I’ve paid for my maternity wardrobe, got free gift cards for presents, and funded an iced coffee addiction without a cent coming out of our bank account. I redeemed enough points earlier this month to get $70 sent to me via Paypal for our Disney trip next month. Every dollar helps and $70 is a lot of dollars!

9:30 AM: My mom and youngest sister come over to play! I didn’t tell Ben and he is thrilled when he sees his Grammy’s van pull into the driveway. My youngest sister and Ben play really well together and Mom volunteers to snuggle the baby (hardship) so I can shower in peace.

12:30 PM: I tuck Teddy in bed for his nap. He falls asleep in about 3 minutes. I make chicken nuggets and sweet potato waffle fries for the kids for lunch while mom and I figure out details for our upcoming Disney trip. Mom asks Ben if he’d like to spend the night and the answer is a resounding YES from both of us. He hasn’t slept over at my parents’ house since Thanksgiving and he is very excited. I’m excited to just have the baby tonight and hopefully sleep in tomorrow.

1:00 PM: Ben goes down for his nap and I pack for his night at Grammy and Papa’s house. I sit down for my own lunch and figure out my plans for nap time. I put together some baja butternut squash soup in the crock pot to cook while I’m bringing Ben to my parents’ house later. I finish fleshing out my grocery list because I’m going to stop on my way home tonight. Grocery shopping with only one kid sounds like such a treat!

3:45 PM: Both boys are up from their naps. The first words out of Ben’s mouth were, “Go to Grammy’s house now!” He is totally ready. It takes a while to get this circus out the door though. I stop at our rental house on the way to pick up some mail that got delivered there instead of to the new house.

4:30 PM: At my parents’ house, Ben takes off like a shot to find his toys. Mom cuddles the baby (again) while I hunt down the rest of the bedding for the doll bed Mom returned to me last week. Ben has loved putting the babies to sleep and telling us all to shhhhh so I know he’ll appreciate having enough blankets to go around.

5:15 PM: Teddy and I give Ben kisses and leave to go grocery shopping. Shopping takes me at least three times as long because I decided to go to a different store than usual. I do find everything on my list though plus an extra special loaf of sourdough bread that was still warm from the oven.

6:45 PM: We arrive back home and Teddy is grumpy and exhausted. I feed, change, pajama, and swaddle him and put him in bed. He is asleep in no time. I puree the squash soup in the crock pot, slice the fresh bread I just bought, and collapse onto the couch for a few episodes of Iron Chef America.

10:00 PM: Bed time for me! It takes forever to get the kitchen cleaned up to my liking, toys put away, and get Teddy fed and changed again. I have the brilliant idea to see if Teddy would sleep better without a swaddle blanket so I don’t wrap him after he eats. He flails around for a while but seems to sleep ok. Maybe this will work?

11:50 PM: Going without the swaddle was a bad choice! I give up and swaddle him again. Teddy falls asleep immediately and so do I. Good night!

2014 In Review

January
We found out in mid January that I was pregnant with Teddy. After our experience with losing Baby Girl the previous fall, this was both exciting and terrifying. I was sick almost immediately after we found out and without the aid of meds, I probably wouldn’t have eaten anything for months. Thank God for modern medicine!

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How big is Benny? (So big!)

 

February
Brian and I went to the OB for the baby’s first ultrasound and saw the heartbeat!
We took off to Disney for Ben’s second trip, our 6th as a couple at the end of the month. It was a new experience for us to visit the parks with a toddler. One very notable event was Ben’s first haircut at the Main Street Barbershop in Magic Kingdom! They specialize in first haircuts and made it much less traumatizing for Ben (and for me) than I expected. It is definitely something we will plan on doing for all first haircuts to come!

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Meeting Mickey. He was hesitant but didn’t flip out

 

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Riding Dumbo

 

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He transformed into a little boy in front of my eyes

 

March
We started the month by continuing our Florida trip by meeting up with His House in Fort Myers for spring break. Ben and I stayed with my Great Aunt and Uncle in nearby Cape Coral while Brian slept at the church as one of the adult leaders. I was still pretty sick every day so it was good to have a place to go home to instead of an air mattress on the floor.

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Playing in my aunt and uncle’s pool

 

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Ben loved to drag the kitchen broom around the church when we were cooking during the day

 

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Snack time! I spent many hours in the large kitchen behind Ben

 

April
Brian traveled for a work retreat to the Poconos with WebDev Studios while Ben and I held down the fort at home.
My grandma (Dad’s mom) decided to move into a retirement community and we decided to buy Grandma’s house for a rental. We had been talking for several years about buying investment property since we don’t have a traditional retirement plan. It was earlier than we had planned but, after a considerable amount of prayer and discussion, we started the purchasing process.
After several very busy work weeks, we hired Meg, a recently graduated His House student, to nanny for us once or twice a week. Ben fell in love with her and looked forward to her car pulling into the driveway every week.

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We took a trip to the tractor supply store to see the ducks and chicks

 

May
We went to the big 20 week anatomy ultrasound and found out we were expecting a second boy!
Brian spent a long weekend in Miami for WordCamp Miami and we celebrated Brian’s 28th birthday and our 6th anniversary within a week. We were busy!
Over Memorial weekend we camped in Greenfield Village for their annual Civil War Remembrance Days reenactment. It was great to see our friends but definitely a challenge to camp with Ben! It was very cold at night and on the first night, he wouldn’t sleep unless he was in bed with us. After a few exhausting days, we decided that we wouldn’t be camping again for a while.
Instead of making the new house an investment property, we decided we would move our family into Grandma’s house and rent our Higgins house. I started praying we would close soon so I wouldn’t too huge to be helpful!

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The new Baby!

 

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I loved his little stub nose

 

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We biked to the big playground and Ben loved it

 

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Ben wanted to ride the “neigh neigh” constantly all weekend long

 

June
After several months of increased illness, we took our Oliver kitty to the vet only to find out that he had cancer and needed to be put down. He was my baby that I had gotten in 9th grade, Brian’s snuggle buddy, and Ben’s bestie. It was a hard transition for all of us.
That same week, we celebrated my 28th birthday.
We finally closed on the new house at the end of the month. Brian and I kicked off several weeks of painting and cleaning by spending the first night at the house and decided to paint the bedrooms, full bathroom, and family room prior to move in. It would be tight but we hired a woman from church to help.
Another HUGE transition was that Brian decided to leave his job at WebDev Studios that he had held for two years to spend more time on WPSessions and working for a friend. It was a scary choice to make but (looking back), it was definitely the right one.

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Funny faces

 

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Ben grew to love Home Depot over the summer, partially because of the car carts but also because we went almost every day!

 

July
Our family hosted the annual Vos family 4th of July brunch at our new yet empty house. The event was a little more relaxed than in previous years but everyone was fed and had a good time at the parade.
We spent two weeks painting (with Becky’s assistance) and cleaning the new house and accomplished most of our goals prior to our move in date on the 11th. It went as smoothly as moving could but I never want to move while pregnant again!
We spent another week cleaning the old house and our first round of renters moved in the 15th.
After such a busy and exhausting summer, we finally made our first trip to the beach on the 18th. Ben loved it!

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The house was a disaster but we still had fun

 

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Mowgli helps Brian level the dishwasher

 

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The beach!

 

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Lake Michigan was still pretty cold!

 

August
Brian coordinated and planned WordCamp Grand Rapids for the 3rd year. It was a smaller event than years past but the speakers were great and everyone learned lots of new stuff. I’d call that a success!
Brian and I took one last trip to the Detroit area to visit friends and go to Ikea before Baby was to arrive. Our friends just had their first child the week before and I was eager to get my hands on a newborn! It seemed like so long until my due date!

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Benny got a big bed with lots of room to stretch out

 

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Ben loved the new table we brought home for him from Ikea

 

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Benny’s car wash. Dish soap bubbles in a bucket was Ben’s favorite outside activity this summer

 

September
We celebrated Ben’s 2nd birthday with a super low-key, Toy Story themed party with just the grandparents (and his aunts who live with my parents). Ben got the custom-built toy kitchen that he has played with daily since.
We waited and waited for Baby to arrive and hit the due date with still no sign of baby’s arrival. Every day was a struggle at that point!
Our tenants at Higgins informed us they bought a new house earlier than expected, which was good for them but too bad for us. We knew we could support the expenses of not having renters for a few months and made plans to hire a management company to find new tenants for us.
I, along with another WordPress developers wife, started an online chat group for developers’ wives so we can support each other through the specific kind of crazy that is living in a dev household. The support (and sometimes prayers) of these ladies has been highlight of the last few months.

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We took maternity photos at 37 weeks. Hard to believe I was much bigger than this by the time I was in labor

 

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Benny’s kitchen. Such a hit!

 

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Big boy Ben on his second birthday, snacking on grapes he was given by our old neighbor

 

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Two!

 

October
My OB took pity on me and induced labor on the 2nd. Theodore John made his grand entrance into the world shortly after 1 AM on the 3rd.
Ben met Teddy and it was a wonderful thing to experience as a parent. Teddy was and has been very laid back since birth, which is such a blessing for a second baby.
Brian had two trips to San Francisco this fall, the first when Teddy was only 3 weeks old. I hadn’t taken the boys out on my own yet and was a little hesitant to try but we were just fine without Brian’s help. Brian had a blast volunteering at WordCamp San Francisco.
Brian was home just in time for Halloween. This was the first year Ben understood what was going on and after a few stops, figured out how truck or treating worked. He dressed up like Woody and Teddy, of course, had to be Buzz Lightyear.

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Meeting Teddy for the first time

 

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Theodore John Richards

 

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Ben read Jungle Book to Brian and Teddy

 

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“Hold hands Mommy!”

 

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Our first outing without Brian

 

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So precious! Teddy still loves that lion

 

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Woody and Buzz

 

November
November started with another trip to San Francisco for Brian for the inaugural Woo Commerce WooConf. Brian spoke on the last day of the conference and notes that it was incredibly well run for a first year event. Outside of conference hours, Brian was thrilled to stumble across the Musée Mecanique, a museum of mechanical wonders.
I scored a discount for Great Wolf Lodge and we took the family in mid-November for a two day trip. Ben was a little hesitant to swim on his own but loved to play in the toddler pool and float in a tube with Brian in the lazy river. Teddy was too little to swim at 6 weeks so we cuddled while I read a book. Ben figured out how to climb out of the pack n play the first night, signaling the end of an era of travel for us.
Brian was offered a part-time job by our friend Chris at Crowd Favorite doing what he loves (building cool websites and helping create new processes and workflows). It was a great opportunity for our family and Brian continues to enjoy the job after 6 weeks.

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Me and Teddy, hanging out at Great Wolf Lodge

 

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Ben likes to mimic what he sees us doing, including wearing a baby

 

December
December has flown by and I’m not sure where it went!
Our beloved Meg and her Air Force husband moved to Hawaii at the beginning of the month so we’re back on our own again. We’ve settled into a good routine at home with the boys though. All four of us have fought colds this month but were healthy enough to enjoy Christmas together and with extended family. Teddy wasn’t too phased by presents but Ben has figured out ripping the paper and loves surprises. We heard “Oh man!” and “Wow!” many times on Christmas Day. Beyond the presents, we bought a children’s advent activity for Ben to teach him about baby Jesus’s birthday. He had a hard time following the rhymes in the book this year but understands who the major players in the nativity are. We are impressed with language and comprehension growth over the last few months and look forward to teaching him more new things (like shapes, colors, numbers, and letters) this coming year.

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Riding the pony at the grocery store

 

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Our little ham with tons of cheese!

 

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Classy

 

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Playing tools with his brother

 

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Cutting the fruit he got for Christmas

 

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Teddy didn’t care about presents but he loved to be talked to

 

I hope to work on a post for our goals for the next year so expect that soon (but not very soon because I accidentally bathed my computer the week before Christmas and it’s now dead. RIP lappy.)