Christmas 2018 Snapshots

Wow, what a Christmas! It’s been a whirlwind for sure with a newborn and toddler, but it’s been a most wonderful holiday season. My parents came into town for Christmas and we’ve been spending some quality time with them. They are soaking in all the baby cuddles from Wesley and getting to play trains with Caleb = happy grandparents.

We’re behind on getting our Christmas card out this year, so we’re aiming for a New Year’s card. Thanks to technology, though, you can read our Christmas letter right now (<—just click!).

Wesley is getting hungry, so this post is going to be mostly just photos. Here’s a slideshow of our Christmas holiday this year! (To see the slideshow you’ll need to click into the post directly. I don’t think you can view it from the main blog page!)

A Most Wonderful Year: Merry Christmas 2018

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas! This year has be pretty magical and full of cheer. We feel so very blessed. 

Baby Wesley

In the spring we found out we would have an addition to our family and we were overjoyed. Wesley Jackson Brown just recently joined the family officially on December 7th. He has proven already to be his own person by arriving later than the due date — unlike his brother. We were waiting and expecting him the whole month of November, only to find he wanted to wait until December!

Caleb is doing great as a big brother. He wants Wesley to come with us everywhere, which of course he will. He also runs to him in the morning and after nap to say hello. I have a feeling they are going to get along just fine. Here’s a video of some of their first interactions.

Wesley is our sweet, little Christmas-time baby and we are so in love. Being a family of four is already proving to be great.

Caleb

This year we got to experience the terrible twos with Caleb. Which, strangely enough, ended up not being too terrible. Oh sure, there are days where he may have been difficult, but that’s life raising a kid. Right?

Caleb is full of personality and he makes us smile everyday. Our hearts melt when he tells us, “I love you,” or hands us a dandelion. He is such a smiley, happy kid and we feel so blessed. 

This year Caleb started beginner’s preschool at First Presbyterian Preschool here in Tacoma. He had no trouble transitioning to the school life. He ran right into the classroom the first day and had enjoyed school ever since. Mom enjoys the break two times a week for about three hours. One of our favorite moments was the school’s Christmas concert where Caleb’s class got to sing. In our opinon, Caleb was the star of the show (watch it here).

Beyond school, Caleb’s biggest development this year has been talking. He talks in full sentences now, although some of them are in a yoda-like in structure. When he’s not talking up a storm his favorite pastimes are running, jumping, riding his bike, and climbing especially with his friends.

This coming year will be fun as he turns three on January 2nd!

Asha 

Our pup is now four years old! Although, she still acts like a puppy (she’ll forever have the nickname, “Asha Pup” with us). She is so great with the kids for which we are so thankful. She still enjoys her walks and chuck-it sessions at the field. But most of all, she enjoys just being around the family. 

Trips & Visitors

We had some pretty special trips and awesome visitors this year. 

Caleb loves his time with both sets of grandparents, and we got to spend some quality time with both this year.

In March, Caleb and I (Heather) enjoyed a week in San Marcos with the O’Neill grandparents. Not only do we love getting time with the grandparents, but the weather isn’t too shabby either. We visited a second time in August (check out more about the August trip here).

In April, the Brown grandparents visited us here in Tacoma. We shared some of our favorite places with them and spent some great time playing together. 

We headed to Chicago in June to attend my cousin Scott’s wedding and visit family. It was Caleb’s first time in Chicago, and was fun to introduce him to the O’Neill and Merkner relatives. We got to enjoy some fun Chicago activities as well - Navy Pier, Millennium Park, strolling downtown, and taking the train (Caleb’s first train ride!). But we really loved the family time with aunts, uncles, and cousins! (See more on the Chicago Trip Snapshots post!)

In September, we tackled an almost six hour flight to Kauai with a two-and-a-half year old toddler and a 30-week pregnant mama. This might sound crazy, but it was so worth it to see the Brown grandparents there. They are living the dream in Kauai for a year and we snagged the opportunity to visit. We had the time of our life especially Caleb. He couldn’t get enough of the beach and ocean. He was practically surfing on the boogie board. Our time there was so special and we made some great memories. (See more on the Look Back: Kauai in September with the Browns post!)

In addition to the big trips above, we also had some of our own little adventures around the PNW and some nice visits from friends. We really take joy in exploring our little corner of the country. 

Work

Josh continues to work for the Washington State Nurses Association. He was brought on full-time last year as Director of Digital Transformation and Membership after having them as a client with his former employer. The office is in Tukwila, so luckily he doesn’t have to commute all the way up to Seattle. He enjoys mentoring and growing his team and working on new technological capabilities for the association. 

As for me, I am just about to head into my third year as Chief Operations Officer of the Brown Household, aka a Stay-at-Home-Mom. I work hard on keeping Caleb busy and getting his energy expended each day. We still enjoy heading to the YMCA, Children’s Museum of Tacoma, or a nearby park. I also try to keep the house tidy and get some delicious, nutritious meals on the table. Now, if only Caleb would eat those meals. #momlife

Our year has been full of merriment and joy. We hope you had a wonderful and memorable year. We love and miss you all. 

Joy & Good Tidings,

Josh, Heather, Caleb, Wesley, and AshaIt’s

Welcome Little Wesley

Josh, Caleb, and I are proud to introduce you to our newest addition to the family, Wesley Jackson Brown. Wesley was born on Friday, December 7th, 2018 at 3:31pm. He came into the world weighing 6 pounds, 10 ounces and at 19 inches tall. We couldn’t be happier to have this new, sweet bundle of joy.

Wesley is already showing his individuality from his brother by arriving past his due date as opposed to over two weeks early like his big brother. In fact, I had to be induced! I’m going to write the whole story sometime soon, but for now I wanted to share some the moments we’ve had so far with Wesley.

The Birth

Wesley was delivered at Saint Joseph Hospital in Tacoma, WA. I was nearing 41 weeks, so he ended up having to be induced. Once things got rolling, he came quickly and naturally. More on that story later as I need to write it all up and I didn’t want to wait to get some photos out to you all because Wesley is too cute not to share immediately (or at least, that’s what his mama thinks).

Big Brother Caleb Meets Wesley

Caleb got to meet his new brother on Saturday morning, the day after his brother was born. He was super sweet with Wesley - patting his head, looking down at him. It was all very new to him, but he did a great job and made his mom and dad proud. But I think what he liked the best was when his baby brother gifted a totally rad astronaut helmet. Caleb wore that all the way out the hospital after his first visit.

Coming Home and First Outings

We came home from the hospital on Saturday, 12/8 evening. I wasn’t as scared driving in the car with an infant this time. Funny how the second time around you’re a bit more confident. We put Wesley down and Asha sniffed him, and then went to her mat to sleep. I think she is thinking, “oh man, another one!” But she’s so good with the kids. Caleb was at our friend’s house and came home and ran up to Wesley and just looked at him with a sweet smile.

Having a second baby is definitely different than your first. With your first you take weeks to get out of the house, with the second you’re out of the house the next day practically (well, maybe the second or third). Our first outing was for Caleb’s preschool Christmas Concert, which I’m so glad we got to attend because Caleb was the biggest ham and the cutest performer. (Watch his performance here).

Over the course of our first ten days home, we’ve done some small adventures out like the grocery store, the farmer’s market, the toy store, a bakery, the bookstore, and seeing Santa. Wesley is a trooper with it all and is nursing on-the-go with me. This is big for me since it was so hard for me to nurse outside the house with Caleb.

Caleb is already proving to be an awesome big brother. He loves to pat the “tiny baby” or his “baby brother” (as he says) on his head and give him kisses. He wants to help mom and dad with the baby and checks that “baby comes, too?” when we go out. He says cute things like, “baby blue eyes, Caleb blue eyes, mommy blue eyes, daddy blue eyes.” Or, “baby tiny lips, me big lips.” Then just last night he did the “kiss monster” (something mom and dad to do to him - basically it’s just showering someone with lots of kisses) to his brother. Ahh, my heart melts. Watch a video of some of Caleb and Wesley’s interactions.

One Week Old

Time is already flying by! Wesley is now over a week old, but I had to take some one week photos. He’s definitely going to move some mountains.

I hope to continue to share more about Wesley and our life as a new family of four. Also, I post a ton of photos on Instagram if you need a Wesley and Caleb fix.

Love you to you all!

Look Back: Visiting O'Neill Grandparents in August

So Caleb and I went down to San Diego to visit the O’Neill Grandparents way back in August. We had a great week full of fun with Mimi Jan and Papa John. We even got to see Aunt Lindsay. This mom (me) caught a few breaks, too. I’m pretty sure these photos can tell the whole story of the trip: yummy food, wedding dress try-ons with Lindsay, beach shenanigans, wandering Encinitas & Carlsbad, and Caleb’s first visit to the San Diego Zoo. Now, photos take it away…(click on the photo to enlarge)

Look Back: Kauai in September with the Browns

Holy smokes am I behind on posts here. I went to work on our Christmas post only to realize I haven’t even shared anything about our Kauai trip. In fact, it’s been quiet on this blog for five months with nothing, zilch, absolute no posts. How dare I? But maybe you follow me on my other blog, Raising Tacoma. Hopefully some of those posts tied you over for the time being (like the Visiting Kauai with a Toddler post). Well, here I am now! Let’s share Kauai times…


Our 2018 Kauai Trip (…mostly in pictures)

At the end of September we had the most wonderful opportunity to visit the Brown grandparents in Kauai. They are living it up there for the year and we just had to join in on the fun. We took up every parent’s worst nightmare (or one of them anyways) and took an almost six hour flight with a toddler and the mama being 30 weeks pregnant. Caleb went the longest span of time ever being awake as the little sneaker didn’t want to nap on the plane. The return flight Caleb had croup and was terrible until he finally fell asleep for a good nap. We survived and it was all very much worth it because we are left with precious, sweet memories of our time there with Mimi Nada and Papa Don.

Beach Time

You don’t go to Kauai to sit inside. The fun is outside especially at the beach. Caleb found his own little heaven at the beach. There was sand to play and run in, water to boogie board and splash in, and “crabbies” in the sand. I’m pretty sure if we stayed longer, Caleb would have basically learned to surf.

The Train at Gaylord's at Kilohana

Another highlight of the trip was the train ride at the Plantation Railway at Kilohana. Caleb has a love for trains, so this was quite the thrill for him. Not to mention, a stop halfway through to feed the pigs.

Grand Hyatt Hotel

We enjoyed two nights at the the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort down in Poipu and had a complete blast. The best part: the pool. The pool there is absolutely amazing and we really loved the lagoon-style pool and floating around in the inflatable tube.

We also enjoyed a memorable and delicious meal at Tidepools to celebrate Don’s birthday. We felt so honored to get to spend time here at this beautiful resort.

Kilauea Lighthouse

It was so humid the morning we went to the lighthouse, but we still enjoyed the tour into the lighthouse even though we had to bow out early given a noisy toddler and a nearly fainting preggo mom. But the views were gorgeous!

Family Times

The beauty of the island cannot be described, but the family time is where it’s really at. It’s the best part of the trip, in fact. We had some awesome times just hanging out with Mimi & Papa and each other for the week.

Dining

Food was consumed, of course. Some favorites were the shaved ice, juice and kombucha, coffee, and donuts. Not pictured were some delicious hamburgers and pizza and the best meal of all was at Tidepools at the Grand Hyatt to celebrate Don’s birthday.

And that face Caleb is making…it’s “why do we have to take this photo, I just want to eat the shaved ice!”

What an amazing trip!! We are so blessed we had the opportunity to take this trip and make great memories.

Chicago Trip Snapshots

Last week we got the chance to go to Chicago for my cousin's wedding and to visit family. We also snuck in some time exploring downtown Chicago. We had a great trip and I was wonderful to introduce Caleb to my family and to a very cool city. Here's a few snapshots (okay, a lot of snapshots) from the visit. I'll let the photos do most of the talking.

Uncle Chuck & Aunt Sue

As you can see my Uncle Chuck loves trains. He's got quite the setup in his house and we got to see the trains go choo-choo (video!). Caleb is throuoghly obsessed with trains now. We also enjoyed a lovely brunch with the Merkner crew. 

Wedding and Rehearsal

We were invited to the rehearsal dinner, which was great since we got to play some mini-golf. Caleb's first time and Grandpa John was proud to teach him how to golf.  The wedding was beautiful and took place on a lake. The weather was perfect and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. 

O'Neill Family BBQ

My cousin Erin hosted an awesome family BBQ on Sunday afternoon. All the aunts, uncles, cousins, and little cousins (technically 2nd cousins, I think) got to hang out and catch up. Caleb had A BLAST with all his little cousins. 

Morning with Zerth Cousins

We got to spend one morning at the Morton Arboretum with my cousin Erin's boys, Ethan and Henry. This arboretum was so cool and the kids had some much fun even though it rained! 

Chicago Navy Pier

Grandma Ruth would be pleased as punch to see that we took Caleb to Navy Pier. We didn't go on the "world's tallest ferris wheel" (so says Grandma Ruth), but we did to remote control boats and the merry-go-round. As you can see, Caleb was pooped by the end of the day.

First Train Rides and More Downtown Chicago

Caleb had his first train ride from Downers Grove to downtown Chicago (video!). He thought it was the coolest thing ever. Then we grabbed coffee and breakfast and walked to Millennium Park. We ran around Maggie Daley Park, walked by the bean, and then enjoyed lunch at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill. 

Flight and Downers Grove

We stayed at a trendy Home Away (similar to AirBnB) in Downers Grove, which is near my cousin Erin's house. There were some great parks to play in and we also checked out the Saturday Farmer's Market. And the flights...well, we survived. 

Soon to be Four

You are reading that title correctly. Soon there will be FOUR Browns in this family. Josh, Heather, Caleb, and....another little boy! Baby Boy Brown #2 is expected sometime late November or early December -- official due date is December 2nd, 2018 (we'll see!).

It seems not so long ago we were announcing my first pregnancy and birth of Caleb. Now, we're adding another to our family crew. We're all very excited and can't wait to meet this little guy. I'll try to keep you in the loop as the year progresses! 

Caleb Update: 25 to 28 Months

Have you missed the monthly Caleb updates? I have, but I'm his mom and I love anything that involves Caleb. It's a mom thing. May I also say, how has it been four and half months since I wrote one of these posts? I totally intended to do it quarterly, but somehow that slipped. But, have you been to my lastly blog adventure, Raising Tacoma? I'm trying hard to post weekly there. Plus, if it's Caleb photos you're looking for, he's the star of that blog basically. 

Caleb has grown and developed a bunch since my last post. Doesn't he look like a little man now? To keep up with his constant growing, I do two things: (1) I write little notes throughout the month on my "notes" app about things he is doing hence the bullets you see here. Then (2) I got thorugh periodically and pick my favorite photos and save them to a "CAB Favs" album in my Photos. Hopefully I appreciate all this effort sometime. Actually, I already am in a way! 

28 Months (May 2018-partial since we're still in May)

  • Words: Smoke (he's really into Fire Engines right now and putting out fires), ball, shark
  • Stairs without using his hands to holding on (mostly, sometimes I reaches for him hand)
  • Shaking hands with people. If Josh and/or I shake someones hand, he needs to shake it as well.
  • When being scolded, he starts kissing my face all over. Ahhh, how can you stay mad/stern???!!!
  • Jumping off and climbing everything. This scares mom everytime; he's taken some big tumbles. He's definitely better at both, though.

27 Months (April 2018)

  • Words: Ball, poop, Mimi & Papa (Grandparents names), hot, mine/me, help, milk
  • Favorite phrase: “Ok mommy” / “Ok daddy” / “Daddy Mommy”
  • Foods: Taken to liking his mom’s granola.
  • If he sees a scratch or bruise on mom or dat, he'll kiss it (Mom kisses his hurts, so I guess he feels we need it, too)
  • Came running out naked into the kitchen for me, brought me into the bathroom, & show he’d peed. I think potty training will happen soon.
  • Double feet jumping - oh boy! Jump over and off everything.

26 Months (March 2018)

  • Words: Purple, blue, green, hot (fires are HOT HOT HOT), sock
  • Food of any kind and water is called "Nom Noms"
  • Loves to put his hands in his socks 
  • Enjoys holding dandelions and keeps them in his hands for a long time and/or gives them to mama
  • Holding onto gummy vitamins, yogurt raisins, m&ms (little foods) in hand for ~30+ minutes. Ha!
  • Trying to use fingers to show 1-2-3 

25 Months (February 2018)

  • Word: Hat, up, duck, broke, bye bye, cheese, stuck or truck?, hook
  • Calls his diaper "bubble" - not sure why???
  • Said “Bye Bye Daddy” & “hi daddy” / “hi mama”
  • Another top canine teeth came in
  • Walking steps up/down with railing
  • Imitating Asha: Squatting when the dog poops, bending to drink from the dog bowl, or sticking his tongue out panting
  • All women are Mom & all men are Dad
  • Fish go "blub blub blub"
  • Flight-compliment to me/mama: "I can tell you’re a good mom; your son is so well behaved!" (go me!)

24 Months (Jan 2018)

  • Words: Nom nom (“Mom, nom nom”), bubble, duck, Shhh (Asha), Ack or Gawk (truck) 
  • Pulling the Radio Flyer wagon & lying flat in it
  • Dancing - especially with his toy guitar jamming and jumping on the couch while nodding his head
  • Nap was pushed to 1pm (from 12pm) - Terrible 2-year sleep regression!
  • Bottom canine teeth breaking through
  • Started gymnastics class
  • Upped to a size 6 shoe size

The Busy Life: Toddlers, Blogs, and More

Hello Stranger, 

And that's totally on me. I  feel so guilty that my personal blog has been so neglected. I have these dreams of getting lots of fun posts up for you, but then life happens and whomp whomp. I'm sure you're curious as to what's keeping me so busy. Well, for starters, everything, but here's a few.

Caleb

This kid has me like whoa. He is so active. I am that mom chasing her son everywhere - the grocery store, the zoo, the park, the library...anywhere you can run which is everywhere if you ask Caleb. I'm working on getting him to listen to me, bahahaha. He's too cute, though. The cuteness makes up for all of it. Not to mention, I get a good work out. I feel like he's been on and off sick with croup or a cough since February, but I think we're starting to get over it. Gawh, winter and the sick season with toddlers is terrible. I'm so glad for spring and summer on the way. I'll write more about Caleb soon. Can you believe he's two and a quarter already? 

New Blog

I've started a new blog adventure. It's called Raising Tacoma. Basically it's about raising Caleb up in Tacoma. I am trying to write about places we go and things we do in the area, but also more genetic toddler things so if you don't live in Tacoma you still can get something out of it. Maybe someday it'll make money, bahahaha again. But for now I am just looking to create a little space on the web for mom friends to get ideas and connect. So come on...read it, share it, love it!

O'Neill Grandparents in San Diego

The last weekend in February, Caleb and I flew down to San Diego to visit my parents, aka Grandma Jan and Grandpa John. Caleb was a champ on the flights there and back - best yet! We enjoyed the sunshine, the beach, bubbles at Balboa Park, the Railroad museum, shopping at UTC, visiting Grandpa John's work and just chilling.

Easter

Easter was pretty low key here. Sadly, Josh caught the stomach bug Easter morning, so Caleb and I went to church together. Then we let dad rest as we walked the park and enjoyed the sun that showed up in the afternoon. He also refused to wear his adorable Easter outing. Apparently collared and buttoned shirts are not a thing right now. 

We also did an Easter egg hunt at the park down the street. We were joined by our friend, Sebastian. Luckily Caleb didn't realized there was candy inside the eggs until after the hunt was over. Then he was thrilled to discover chocolate inside. I think he would have picked up like two eggs had he known what lie inside. Caleb also discovered temporary tattoos and bouncy houses. Woo Hoo!

There was also some Easter egg coloring fun, too! Read about how we did it on my Raising Tacoma blog!

Brown Grandparents in Tacoma

About two weekends ago Mimi Nada and Papa Don visited us here in Tacoma. Unfotunately there was a ton of rain, but we still managed to have a great time. We went down to Olympia for breakfast and the Farmer's Market, we did some Southcenter Mall shopping, and strolling in Sumner (with crepes at Craft 19, of course). Josh and I can thank the grandparents for a date night, too! 

It's so cute because with both grandparents, Caleb got super attached. We so glad to have such loving family and the opportunities to see them. 

The Everyday

Don't discount the everyday, it's busy. I have laundry to fold, dinner to make, a house to clan, a dog to walk, a toddler to chase...all of which keep me away from the blog world. I hope you understand! I'll try to keep up with updates, but for now I hope this fills you in on all the happenings. 

XOXO, me.

New Years, Getaways, and Grandparents

A few days after Grandpa Don and Grandma Nada left, Grandpa John and Grandma Jan arrived. They came up to visit for New Years and for Caleb's Birthday. We had a great time having them visit. They even babysat Caleb overnight so this mama and dad could sneak in our first night away from Caleb and have a getaway! 

New Years 

Guess what a mom and dad do for New Year's Eve with an almost-two-year old? Nothing. We go to bed at 10:30pm, open our eyes due to fireworks and then close them again. Then you wake up and it's another day. Who's with us on this one? 

But we did have a fun last day of 2017. Grandpa and Grandma O'Neill joined us for a trip to Point Defiance Zoo on a beautiful day. So clear that you could see Mount Rainier. It always appears so much smaller in your photos then it is in real life. The elephants and walruses were a hit as was a ride on the carousel. Weee! 

Basically Another Christmas

Considering Grandpa John and Grandma Jan's visit was so close to Christmas, we basically celebrated it again. I got to make the meal I had actually planned for Christmas since we finally got our oven (read about the oven fiasco on this post). It was delicious! And Caleb got MORE presents. 

Our Getaway

Since Grandpa John and Grandma Jan were game for a night with Caleb, Josh and I decided to take a night away from the little guy for the first time since he was born. We opted to stay nearby...just in case. We chose to stay in Gig Harbor at Raft Island. We found the most darling AirBnB. It was decorated with a nautical theme and still had Christmas decorations. 

Raft Island reignited our love for exploration. We had no idea this little island existed. It is a small island about 15-minutes from all the Gig Harbor action. You just cross a small bridge and you're on this quite, beautiful island. It was our little sanctuary for the night. It seems secluded and romantic yet not far away from fun activities (and home).

During our getaway we enjoyed a nice dinner and then saw the third movie we've been to in two years (others movies included Beauty and the Beast and Dunkirk). We saw The Last Jedi. It seemed fitting since it was New Year's Day and the last Star Wars film we saw in the theaters was The Force Awakens which we saw New Years Eve 2015. It just so happened the next day the story of Caleb began. Caleb must be bound to like Star Wars.

We spend the morning in downtown Gig Harbor. We ate at the pizza place I've wanted to try in forever, but has been impossible with a noon nap schedule. We also enjoyed a sampling at Heritage Distilling

Grandparents

Caleb spent some fun times with the wagon with Grandpa John and Grandma Jan. We also took them to the Children's Museum for a fun afternoon. It was a great visit, as always!

Instagram Best

So 2017 was pretty awesome. I took lots of photos, as usual. Here's the most liked from Instagram. Caleb, family, and food...seems about right.  

And now we can move into 2018 fun and posts!! 

Snapshot of our 2017 Christmas

Well, gosh, this is embarrassing. I'm only just now posting about our Christmas. It was super busy, but it was wonderful. We watched Christmas movies, listened to Christmas music, ate cookies, and most importantly, cherished our time together as a family. We loved that we were able to celebrate Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa Brown. Having family at Christmas is so special.

Caleb was pretty stoked about Christmas. I think every third picture has him throwing his arms up in excitement. He wanted to help everyone unwrap their gifts and was thrilled with each gift he received. He was at the cutest age for Christmas. We loved watching him!

I got hasty there just jumping immediately to Christmas. Let's step back and look at all the Christmas preparations and festivities.

For Christmas Eve, we all went to the Christmas Eve service at our church, Resurrection Church. It started to snow during the service!

Later that night, Grandpa Don and Josh put their handyman hats on and put together Caleb's train table gift. Go Team Brown!

The snow continued through the night and Christmas morning came as a white Christmas. I've never had a white Christmas and it just made it that much more fun. But more surprising for Caleb was to wake up and discover a blanket of gifts under the tree and a totally awesome train table. Check out his Christmas morning video.

For our family, Christmas gifts are opened Christmas morning. We were all smiles! 

We took advantage of the snow and went for a fun, little walk. This wasn't Caleb's first snow experience, but it probably felt like it for him. He was so young last year when it snowed. He was unsure about it on his rain boots, but otherwise seemed to think it was pretty cool.