The 2017 Cookie Swap with Tots

If you know me, you know that I love to bake. I also love cookies. Therefore, I love baking cookies and then eating them. In fact, my parents tell me one of my first words was cookie. Not surprising, Caleb also has discovered a love for cookies. He takes his hands to his mouth, and enthusiastically says, "nom nom nom!" He will do this with pictures of cookies and even plastic toy cookies. It's hilarious.

Our love for cookies must be shared, which inspired a cookie exchange. It seems December hits, and you never have time to make all the varieties of cookies you want. Then Caleb came along and baking all the cookies became even harder. So last year I started a cookie exchange party with all my mom and baby (now tots) friends. It's so much fun to get everyone together to enjoy cookies and conversation while the kids get out all their energy. Win win! Everyone liked it last year so much that I just had to do it again this year...and now it'll be the annual cookie exchange. I'm committed to it now my friends. 

Let me share some of the party fun in pictures because the pictures tell it all.

All the cookies:

Here's the cookies (start top left): Oatmeal Cranberry, White Chocolate, Walnut Cookies*, Cinnamon Sugar Pie Pinroll Cookies, Oatmeal Blueberry Cookies, Ginger Sparkle Cookies, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, No-Bake Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies, Caramel Apple Cider Cookies, No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies, and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

*These were my cookies. There is a story here about our oven, etc. I hope to share that with you soon. But for a sneak peek: the world was against me making cookies.

All the tots:

Kids starting from ~6 months to almost 4 years old. Sadly I didn't get a great photo of the baby, but he's a cutie!

Everyone playing:

All the party people:

The top photo is everyone but blurry, and the bottom photo is not everyone but better focus.

Food, Caleb, and Cookies:

I made some warming spiced apple cider and lots of snacks, but the cookies were the main dish. ;) And I had to share the one of Caleb. I don't know how many cookies he ended up eating, but he kept snagging them off the table, the little stinker. Apparently, we have a chocolate lover on our hands, too.

Such a great time with friends and really helps get me into the Christmas spirit. Love this day!

Caleb's 23 Month Update

As of December 2nd, we're at 23 months old. Can you believe it, only one more month and Caleb will be the big TWO?! Please tell me they won't be terrible. ;) This age has been particular fun - tiring for mom running after him - but he's totally got the cutest personality. 

The cutest development this past month is the animal noises. He loves the elephant, lion, monkey, and hyena noises the best. But his very favorite noise is the siren. He also loves to flop on soft things like piles of pillows and stuffed animals. 

Favorite Books this month: The Wheels on the BusCars! Cars! Cars!Push! Dig! Scoop!Duck in the Truck

My Sweetie

I know I'm his mother, but doesn't he just have the sweetest smile. It's so full of joy and love. 

Family Love

Caleb just loves his daddy. Throughout the work week, he'll babble about daddy. It's cute to see him watch daddy go to his car to take off for work. He waves and repeats, "daddy!" 

We got the opportunity to spend a week down in San Diego with Grandma Jan and Grandpa John. As always, we enjoyed some froyo/ice cream, hugs from the grandparents, and sunshine. 

Silliness

You aren't a toddler if you aren't full of silliness, right? Caleb has plenty of it.

And it's so sad when fun is on the horizon only to find the zoo is closed. Look at that sad face at the gates. Don't worry, we got some fun in at the park instead.

Play Dates with Friends

These are the best, especially at friend's houses where we can play with all new toys (oh yea, the friends are pretty cool, too). 

First Hair Cut

It was bittersweet for me to see the baby curls shorten, but he's still got the cutest small curls going on. Surprisingly, he had a blast getting his hair cut. How could he not when they put him in a car, hand in trucks, and put on his current favorite show, Super Wings. He didn't want to leave! Thanks to Wild Child for making it a fun first hair cut experience.

Fun Fun Fun until you Drop

This kid would keep going and going and going if I didn't make him lie down to sleep. Why walk if you can run? Cars and trucks are awesome. And construction is fascinating. Oh, and water and puddles. So much fun to have in life. 

Wee Wee Wee

Favorite sweater. Spinning. Wee Wee Wee.

Wow, Christmas

This season has been a blast so far. He is way more into it than last year. Every time he sees a Christmas tree he says, "wow!" So full of wonder and spirits. 

Yay for a fun 23 months!

Giving Thanks

Wow, Thanksgiving is here! November flew by so quickly. Soon we'll be celebrating Christmas. But I don't like to jump so readily to Christmas. I insist on waiting on decorations and music until after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a special holiday and deserves to be the center of our hearts and attention. It is a day to give thanks and celebrate with friends and family. Oh, and to eat turkey.

Speaking of eating, my pumpkin pie is baked and cooling. So if nothing else turns out, at least we have pie. And that's the most important dish, right? The pie. Okay, maybe turkey is the star of the meal. Or the potatoes? Gawh, I love it all. 

Pumpkin Pie with Streusel Topping --- Yum!

The turkey will go in at 3pm since it's a small bird feeding just the three of us. And in reality, it's just the two of us probably eating because Caleb only eats yogurt, oranges, and Teddy Grahams. I  kid...sorta. Asha might get some bits off the floor, if she's lucky. If Caleb's eating, her chances are pretty good.

Back to the true meaning of thanksgiving: giving thanks. I am so thankful for my dear, thoughtful husband. My adorable, sweet son. My loving parents. My fun and awesome sister. My caring in-laws. My neurotic dog. My awesome family. And my fantastic friends both far and near. I am also thankful to live in a beautiful town in a great country. 

Caleb is thankful for puddles, boots, sticks, and Teddy Grahams. These photos are from our walk along Owens Beach this morning. I am also grateful that Caleb allowed me to put on his rain jacket without too much fuss!

I'll try to write a post later about the food because it is a day of feasting after all! I loved this card from my in-laws and thought I'd share it with you, friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

Farm Animals and Apples: Our Visit to Lattin's

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the flavors, smell, colors...everything! We had an exceptional fall this year with great weather. We started a little tradition last year by visiting Lattin's Cider Mill and Farm (check this post out, the bottom has some photos from last year that you can compare to this year). It was even more fun this year because Caleb got super into the animals and the donuts! 

Caleb got a kick out of feeding the goats and sheep (see video). He even waived to them - too cute! He tried to feed the pigs some oats, but they weren't too interested. The goats, though, they were definitely interested. Standing up over the gate interested. 

The animals were totally fun. I think the pig was a favorite with it's oinking. Look at that snout! 

It's also a cider mill, so we loaded up on apples. They also have apple donuts made fresh at the mill store. Caleb sucked the donut down, man. This kid is usually super picking and only takes nibbles of past donuts, but this one he devoured. He's still eating it in the apple tree photo, hahaha. 

It was a fun little family adventure together and made for a great day!

It'll probably shock me next year when we go and I look back at this post to compare Caleb's growth! 

Now, after tomorrow (Thanksgiving) we'll be on to Christmas and winter everything!

Sunshine with Grandparents

It seems I rarely get around to sharing my visits down to San Diego with you. With Caleb under two years old, he flies free on my lap so we've taken advantage and tried to make several visits this year. This past trip down, at the beginning of November, was our last trip with him under two. Next time we have to pay! Although, having that seat will be really nice. We've gotten an empty seat next to us every so often and it makes a world of difference. So even though we will have to pay, at least it'll make for a more pleasant trip (and let me tell you, you need all the odds in your favor when traveling with a toddler).

Lucky for us, we visited San Diego when the beautiful fall weather in Tacoma switched to more wintery weather. They had cold temperatures, snow, and rain. Perfect timing (sorry Josh - he had to stay for work). So we got to extend our intake of Vitamin D for an extra week. And had a bunch of fun with my parents, or should I say Grandma Jan and Grandpa John.

You can't beat palm trees, ocean, and sunsets...

After seeing Caleb have so much fun in Kauai at the beach, we made an effort to go in San Diego. We didn't go in the water (brrrr!), but we had a ton of fun playing in the sand. Moonlight Beach is so great and it's fun to take Caleb there since it was a beach I went to as a kid.

What's a visit with grandparents without a little ice cream? A new favorite on our past few visits has been Handel's Ice Cream. Oh man, it's good. Of course, I have to go to Golden Spoon frozen yogurt. I used to go there for froyo when I was younger, too!

Caleb definitely takes after me in his love for frozen desserts!

I used to always ensure we made a visit to Honey's for my favorite muffins. However, I found Lofty Coffee which makes dynamite salted caramel lattes, and it has won as my latest "must visit each trip" spots. This time, we found Ironsmith Coffee and it competes with Lofty. It's a family winner as well. You know my dad likes a place if he goes in and stares at the pastry case a second time. 

We had best luck with breakfast at Ironsmith, too. Caleb was still adjusting his schedule (after a cold, flight, and time change) and feel asleep on the drive to the coffee shop. We found a parking spot right in front, opened the car door, and placed our table next to the car. We enjoyed a toddler-free coffee and breakfast. Score!

We made a trip over to UTC, one of our family favorite malls. They recently did some changes and updates to the mall and it was totally different. It's quite the hip mall now. There was a Nespresso store so we got some pods for our machine back home. And Caleb enjoyed walking around outdoors. 

Nothing beats just staying at home and playing with Grandma and Grandpa, though.

We're so blessed to get to spend time with grandparents and go on these trips! This was another great time in San Diego!

Caleb's 22 Month Update

22 months is just two months away from two years old. Not only is that a lot of two's to say in one sentence, but also crazy to think we'll have a two year old on our hands very soon. Will two be terrible? He's definitely got a personality of his own, but is pretty darn sweet most of the time (with some crazy toddler interspersed).

I do have to say, though, that this is Caleb's world and we're just living in it. Luckily, he makes a pretty fantastic world. 

He likes to build and knock down the month blocks these days. He is so proud when he stacks them. Those are proud faces in the photo. 

And here's what's happened this past month up to 22 months:

Parks and Recreation

For Caleb Parks and Recreation isn't a TV show, but real life. This month he discovered the joy of trampolines and obstacle courses at the YMCA toddler open gym time. He also loves piles of leaves and puddles, but he refuses to wear his jacket! 

My Little Guy

His smile warms my heart. It's amazing what I'll do to get him to laugh. He still does the "stink face" when asked (see bottom left photo). He enjoys rolling in the grass and throwing stones into the water. Of course, we need to check out any construction site as well.

Dog Love

Oh my goodness does Caleb love Asha. He wants to walk the dog, feed the dog, hug the dog, and sit wth the dog. When we first get home, he needs to greet the dog. And he's very motivated when you say, "let's go see the doggie, Asha." He loves other dogs when we're out and about, as well. In fact, he'll call out "doggie!" at the top of in lungs while running around. 

Pumpkin Patches

He discovered pumpkins this year and points to them whenever we say pumpkin. We enjoyed pumpkin patches and got to visit Spooner Farms and Picha's Farms. Read about it here! He also enjoyed wheelbarrows. 

Buddies

Our favorites times are playtimes with buddies. He's really starting to play with others rather than alongside them. We joined friends at parks, zoos, at homes, at pumpkin patches, or the Children's Museum. Fun with friends is the best!

Strolling

No stroller. No no no no no no no. But the walker toy is a big YES. He is a machine with the walker and he can go crazy fast with it. It just had to come on walks. Then we were gifted the radio flyer stroller/pusher and that maybe became just as awesome as the walker. 

And that's a monthly wrap. As they would say on one of Caleb's favorite shows, Chuggington, time is just chug chug chugging along!

Halloween 2017: The Treating

Witches, ghosts, bats, monsters, and...train conductors! Well, a train conductor isn't so scary, and actually, it's darn cute. What is scary, though, is how much different this Halloween was compared to last year. Last year, Caleb was still just a gourd-sized pumpkin and this year he is a little pumpkin. Heck, last year he barely had any hair!

Since he can't talk much yet, he told me telepathically that he really wanted to be a train conductor for Halloween. It only makes sense, he loves his wooden trains and tracks. Although, it's a toss up with cars and trucks - anything that moves and has wheels.

This year is great because he was old enough to do some actual trick-or-treating. Plus, there has been an influx of families and kids in the neighborhood over the year, so we saw lots of kiddos while we did our trick-or-treating. 

We went trick-or-treating with our friends/neighbor, Sebastian, Krissy, and Joe. Sebastian was a lion. Caleb didn't want his hat and scarf and Sebastian didn't want the lion head. But the moms were happy that they wore something! 

We just went down the block and back up, but we picked up a considerable amount of candy. Caleb was more excited about going up the paths to the front door, knocking on the doors, and saying hi than getting candy. He's not really eating the candy yet, but I think the act of acquiring it was enough for him. Next year candy will be eaten, and this year mom and dad get some sweets. I tried to steer his hands towards the good stuff in the buckets, heehee.

Before we went trick-or-treating, Caleb and I hit up the Proctor Treats event. The little neighborhood downtown area, Proctor, closes down the streets and all the stores and restaurants hand out candy. Caleb did NOT want to wear his costume AT ALL. There was pulling on the overalls and rolling on the ground. Crying, of course.* I got a minute or two of no-crying to get a picture. Thomas the Train fans will understand my "costume" t-shirt.

*So the only difference between the costume wearing for Proctor Treats vs. trick-or-treating is he was wearing boots. Boots apparently make everything okay for Caleb (he LOVES his boots).

The fire station also brought out their engine and opened up the station, which we thought was pretty cool. As you can see, Caleb was still grumbling about the costume (hence the no costume in the photo). 

One of the treats Caleb got was this vampire teeth whistle toys. He thought it was the best thing ever, but couldn't quite figure it out.

The Friday before Halloween, we got together with some friends and got into costume. There was a train conductor, scarecrow, pumpkin (who turned into the Green Giant), and Tinkerbell. Good toddler times were had. 

We had a spooktackular Halloween. And the weather was wonderful. Apparently, it was the first dry, warm Halloween in our area since 2006. I'm hoping this year's weather becomes a trend for a few years, otherwise Halloween is gonna be so fun (I say sarcastically). 

Happy Halloween! And happy November. 

 

 

Halloween 2017: Pumpkin Patching Time

I'm late getting a Halloween pumpkin patch post up (sigh...posting late, or not all all, seems to be the way of things these days. #toddlers). Of course, the pumpkin patch visiting took place before Halloween, so this post goes up first. Next up: Halloween. 

We managed to visit two pumpkin patches this year. Both with awesome, fall weather. The first patch was Spooner's Farm, which is the one we visited last year. Caleb and I went with our neighbor friends and had a pumpkin-tastic time. We went mid-week, so sadly Josh wasn't able to join. Don't worry, he did get to go to one.

Spooner Farms

Here's Mighty Caleb pushing a wheelbarrow. Caleb's mantra: If it's moves, I will push. 

Caleb thought the pumpkins pretty cool. He tried to pick some of these monster pumpkins up. Seriously, they are like two times his size, yet he still tries. 

Sebastian and Caleb being pumpkin heads. 

Picha Farms

The other pumpkin patch was Picha's Farms and Josh got to join the fun. 

The tractor ride was the highlight for Caleb. We got to sit in front and see the wheels and everything. 

This patch had a U-pick field, so we did some pumpkin exploration. Caleb tried to eat one. I guess exploration to him means everything including tasting. 

All these pumpkins got me to wanting to bake pumpkin. Heck yes to pumpkin season!!!

Caleb's 21 Month Update

I can't believe I'm already writing a 21 month update. This month went crazy fast and a lot has happened. We went on our first big vacation as a family and it was perfection...uhh, well, except for the flight (but I'm trying to forgot that part). But I'm getting ahead of myself, I need to start with the usual block photos.

Every month I have to figure out a way to get a photo of Caleb with these blocks. It's tougher than you might imagine. This time I put on a TV show and put the blocks near the trains and cars. At least he wasn't throwing the blocks like usual, but rather using them for his cars and trains. 

Of course, there's all sorts of developmental things happening. It's amazing what can happen over the course of a month. My favorite thing he does right now is waiving to everyone and everything. He'll waive to people, buses, trains, dogs...you name it. The "stink face" is pretty hilarious, though. It's hard to capture a photo of it, though.

Some other fun things that have happened not listed above:

  • Words: Wow, Okie Dokie, Go Go Go, No No No No No
  • Favorite Toys: Car jump, Wooden Train tracks, Walking Toy (an oldie but goodie)
  • Shoe Size: 5
  • Some Food Favs: Yogurt (duh), buttered peas, Hawaiian rolls, toast with cream cheese, toasted waffles
  • Books: Little Excavator, Fisher Price Little People On the Farm (look and find book)

Hawaii

We spent a wonderful week in Kauai with Grandma Nada and Grandpa Don. We had the best time ever. Hawaii is a great place for a toddler. We spent a ton of time at the beach and it was heavenly. See what we did and all the fun photos on my "Our Aloha Vacation" post. 

Friends

I don't know what we'd do without some of the great friends we've made. They really help Caleb and me get through the day - such great support and company. And the tots are slowly starting to learn to play together. 

Playtime

This month we discovered the trampoline at the YMCA Toddler Time. He loves its! We spend an insane amount of time at the park. I'm scared for the coming rainy season! The slide is probably his favorite feature at the playground. Check out the static in his hair going down the slide! 

He is also into bikes. Not just his bike, but everyone's bike - and their helmets. We got him the Chillafish bike to start practicing for big boy bikes down the line. It's amazing how quickly they pick things up!

Let's Eat

Caleb is still Mr. Yogurt Face and has a yogurt every morning. He sucks these things down like mad. It only goes that he also loves frozen yogurt...just like his mama! He's doing better with food, but still rather picky. Another favorite, oddly, is buttered peas. And he loves cream cheese. He's such a funny little guy!

Stop to Smell the Flowers

One day we were playing in the backyard, and all of a sudden he realized we had a bed of dahlias and roses. He ran over and started pointing at them. I showed him how to smell the flowers, and now when we go on walks he'll often stop and smell a flower or two. 

The Everyday Stuff

One fun activity at home is looking out the front window. It's nice and big, so we get a view of walkers, cars, garbage trucks, cats, and so much more. This month we had a visitor, Mr. Squirrel. 

Pushing anything is still a favorite pastime. He loves to push the walker toy. It often comes along on our walks. 

And I still find his little feet too cute. 

Family Fun

Sometimes Caleb will be somewhere and just call out, "Dadda!" It's cute. He loves his daddy. And for me, well, he says momma ALL THE TIME. So I don't feel left out in that area. He also likes to put his sunglasses on me upside down. Go figure. And heaven forbid he wear his glasses (or hat, or jacket, or you name it).

We went to the zoo together as a family. Usually its just mom and Caleb, so it was fun to go as a family.

And on we march to the next month. I'm sure it'll be here before I know it. 

Six Years of Marriage

Let's count...

one year.

two years.

three years.

four years.

five years.

Now we're celebrating six years together (eh hem, that isn't counting all the years of dating either). But, these have been the best six years of my life! So much has happened these years - married, job changes, paid off debt, got a dog, moved, bought a house, pregnant, and a baby! 

We're celebrating with Thai take-out tonight, haha. However, we did get to celebrate in a more romantic way when we were in Kauai, though. We went to a delicious dinner at Bar Acuda and had cocktails at the St Regis Bar and watched the sunset (both sans toddler). 

And aren't we still looking young, hip, and cool?

Our Aloha Vacation

Aloha! 

Ahhhhhh, Kauai. I wish I could go back and it's been less than a week since we were there. Such a magical island and so many good memories for our family. Our first visit was in November 2006. We were with Don and Nada on that trip and apparently it was also the trip where Josh decided he wanted to marry me. Fast forward and we went again in October 2011 for our Honeymoon. Finally, here we are in 2017 and with Don and Nada again...and...Caleb! 

We had a wonderful week in Kauai. We were pretty lucky since we were able to stay with Don and Nada who really helped get everything ready for our visit - even a pack and play for Caleb. We stayed in Princeville, which is a perfectly situated on the North shore. The week was fun and relaxing and awesome for a toddler. 

As you can see, we had lots of fun together...

It was so wonderful for us to spend quality time with Grandpa Don and Grandma Nada. Caleb adores them, and I think the feeling is mutual. And Josh and I appreciated the help (wink wink).

Fun times with Grandma Nada and Grandpa Don

One of my favorite afternoons was at the secret, hidden beach of Molaa Beach. Let's keep this beach just between you and me, okay? There was nobody else there except for the paddler boarder that passed by in the lagoon. We didn't bring Caleb's swimwear, so we just pulled off the shorts and let him go crazy. Isn't it nice to be a toddler, just pull off your pants and it's considered cute. 

Afternoon at Molaa Beach

Of course, there are coconuts in Kauai and Caleb had a grand time playing with one on Molaa Beach. Who knew a coconut was not just something to eat/drink, but also to play with.

Caleb discovers coconuts at Molaa Beach

Oh, Hanalei. You can't beat the sites from this beach. And the pier is quite cool. Caleb had a blast watching the water under the pier. 

Hanalei Pier

I really had no idea how much Caleb would love the beach. He LOVED it. Every time we arrived, he'd run and then stop and have a huge smile and eyes full of wonder and excitement. The sand was a big hit. Wide spaces to run without limits (mostly), you're able to dig your feet and hands into the sand, and you can play with it - what's not to like for a toddler? 

Caleb loves the Beach

Not only did he love the sand, but the water! He surmised us with loving the boggie board out on the water. He'd lie on it and we'd hold him as he floated around. He even tried to stand up like a surfer. Ha! Then he thought we could do the same thing on the sand...without much luck. He insisted that I pull him, and then insisted on trying to pull me. This kid, I tell ya. 

Caleb and the Boogie Board

Kauai Coffee Company was a fun visit as well. Of course, Caleb wanted to run around everywhere in the coffee fields. If you can run, he'll run. If you can pick it up, he'll pick it up. If you can grab it, he'll grab it.  

Visiting the Kauai Coffee Company

In Kapaa, we found a hip and delicious (and expensive!) coffee shop called Java Kai and juice/kombucha shop called Kauai Juice Co. But the building was even more fun with the pineapple art. Pictures were taken.

Cool Art in Kapaa

We also make a visit down to Koloa where we enjoyed some coffee at Aloha Roastery. Back in Kapaa, we had the best shaved ice at Wailua Shaved Ice. Caleb tried apple bananas, while I had avocado toast at Hanalei Bread Co (which was quite delicious). Also, below you'll see a window from Josh and my meal at Kileaua Fish Market, Caleb reading the menu at the Fehring Farm Fruit Stand (we had pineapple frosties, yum), and Caleb and Grandpa Don enjoying breakfast at the condo rental.

Kauai food experiences 

With grandma and grandpa around, you better believe Josh and I got some time to be a couple again. We celebrated our anniversary a week early and enjoyed a delicious meal (for us, and the mosquitos!) at Bar Acuda. Also, we enjoyed cocktails while watching the sunset over "Bali Hai." 

Heather & Josh go on some date nights!

We just had a great time chilling, laughing, and having fun. Caleb enjoyed playing with his sunglasses more than wearing them. We watched a few sunsets, which are the best off the North Shore. And just kicking it back, Hawaii style. 

Kauai spirit

I mean, look at the beauty...can't beat it. Pair that with warm water, sunsets full of color, palm trees, and tropical weather. Bam...paradise!

Beautiful Kauai

And I have to share a chicken photo...because you can't go to Kauai and not experience the chickens. Josh was a super dad with the beach equipment as was Don (not pictured). It rained (hello, tropical) so Josh felt it necessary to use an umbrella. Caleb became a beach bum, too. Oh, and how do you like my sunglasses...they saw a lot of beautiful things.

Cool and Goofy

And I'm not going to lie, the flight was rough especially the trip to Kauai. But it was worth it. 

Traveling with a Tot

Can I go back now? I think our next trip will be sooner rather than later. 

Aloha!

Caleb's 20 Month Update

Twenty months! Caleb is no longer in the teen months and he is creeping closer and closer to two years - yikes! 

I found myself looking at videos and photos of when Caleb was younger, and it's amazing to compare last year to this year. Not to mention, just how cute he keeps getting. He's my handsome pumpkin, sweetie, sweetie pie, sugar plum (yup, all names I call him). 

In my usual fashion I couldn't decide which photos to share, so you get them all. You better sit back as there is ton of photos here...

I officially feel like Lois in Family Guy now as it's mommy-mommy-mommy. Similarly, he also loves to say, "no no no no no." It's never just one no; always a series of no's. But he's doing such cute things, too. A favorite is when he blows on his food when I blow on it to cool it off. Or, how he'll stare endlessly at wheels and gears trying to understand. The cutest of all is his giggling, though.

Playtime is Funtime

Playtime is the best. He still loves to push his dump truck around everywhere. He figured out how to ride the motorbike, too. And he definitely understands when I say, "let's go to the park" because he'll say "OK" and then immediately run for his shoes. 

That water pump blew his mind! And the magnetic board was the longest he has stayed in one spot...ever. 

Reading

I love that he's getting more interested in reading. It's mostly all trucks, cars, and dogs, but hey it's reading! Favorite books right now include: Little Blue Truck, Trucks, Toot Toot Beep Beep, Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site, Cars and Trucks and Things that Go, and Harry the Dirty Dog. Look, he was even reading in the car!

VW Bus Toy

This is a current favorite toy. It was actually something Josh owned pre-Caleb, then Caleb found it and it became his bus. He takes it everywhere - car, bath, even to bed. He pushes it around and says, "beep beep!" What is it with boys and cars? 

O'Neill Grandparents Visit 

It was so much fun having Grandma Jan and Grandpa John in town. Not to mention, it meant his very own gelato courtesy of Grandpa John, haha.  (Gosh I still have to write a post about their visit! Yikes!)

Mommy and Me 

I just love this little guy. I feel so lucky that I get to enjoy so much time with him.  

Daddy and Me

Caleb loves his Daddy! It's cute and a little heartbreaking when he watches dad leave in the morning. But we love our family weekend time together. 

Friends

We have made so many great friends. It's cool because the kiddos are starting to interact more rather than just playing in the same room. We hosted a summer toddler time at the park and also had our out-of-town friends, Jeff, Melissa, and Thomas visit. Oh, and we are so lucky to have some neighbors with kids, which is awesome!

New Experiences

Well, a new experience plus something that's not going to happen again for a long time: the eclipse. We got to see about a 94% eclipse. We went to the Point Defiance Zoo to join in all the fun with other viewers (and since we didn't have glasses at home - dang, those thing sold out fast!).

Caleb also got to enjoy his first ferry ride. We went to Vashon Island with Grandma Jan & Grandpa John. Such fun!

Walking and Exploring

If there is one things about Caleb, it's that he loves to explore and see new things. He wants to see all the things and do all the stuff. I love it when he sees something and says, "wow!" And Caleb prefers to say "heck no" (he doesn't really say that, btw). Why sit when you can walk. Now, if only he'd listen to me and stay close by. When do they start listening to you? (wait, don't answer that.) But he is definitely Mr. Curiosity! 

Sweets

Well, he's definitely his mom's son and has a sweet tooth, especially soft serve! The joy in his face when he eats ice cream or froyo is the best. He also discovered chocolate - he grabbed the last two bites of my chocolate chip cookie and gobbled it up while giggling and running around the house. 

The Sillies 

Such a silly guy (yup, I intentionally put this photo set after sweets, wink wink). He loves putting my shoes on his feet and putting things on his head (tupperware, buckets, drums) except for hats made for him - only mom or dad's hat. The red tupperware is his favorite to put on his head. The photo with the yogurt stash and tupperware hat is classic Caleb.

This and That

He is quite the helper (cough cough) in the yard and kitchen. Also, he got to see more of his Croatian roots at the Croatian festival (which was mainly just eating some food and then hightailing it to the park next door). 

He discovered a love for stuffed animals and will point at every truck/car/bus that goes by (check out the center photo - he's very focused on a bus). And sometimes you just need to take a break and lie down flat on the floor. 

This kid, I tell you...such a joy! 

A Few iPhone Photo Tips

You guys know I love to take photos. The number of photos I take since Caleb came around has increased exponentially. Hardly a day passes without at least one photo. So I figured, as someone who takes a lot of photos, I should have a few tips up my sleeve. But here's the thing, I use my iPhone for like 95% of my photos these days. I love my DSLR camera, but it’s hard to always have on-hand to capture all the daily moments - Caleb's cuteness doesn't stop for me to grab a camera, you know. Instead, I use my iPhone all. the. time. So yea, it’s permanently in my back pocket. And yes, it's an iPhone. I couldn't be married to Josh and have something non-Apple. We're an Apple family. So here are a few tips for an iPhone you might find helpful!

Tip #1 – Burst Mode

Burst mode, not beast mode (for those of you in Seattle area). I'm not a Seahawks fanatic, but for some reason that came to mind. Okay, let's move on now that some of you are shaking your heads. So, it makes sense that the more photos you take, the more likely you’ll get a good one, right? Well, you can take a ton of photos at once with the burst mode. When you take a photo, hold down the shutter button to get a burst of photos. It’ll capture multiple photos as you continue to hold down. On your photo stream, the phone automatically selects what it thinks is the best photo of the sequence. However, I always go and look at the others since it doesn’t always get it right. When you have the photo open, go to the “select” function. You can select one or many photos to keep. Boom, magic! 

Tip #2 – The Timer

This is an easy one to forget about, but comes in very useful especially with selfies. I always struggle trying to hold the phone steady and hit the shutter button at the same time. You end up with blurry photos! Instead, use the timer to give yourself time to hold out the phone, get steady, and smile. Or, find a place to set the camera down (safely!) to get the whole family. 

Another note: You might be thinking you can use the side button to take the photo,. However, I still shake the phone when I use this method and end up with yet another blurry photo. If you have solid steady hands, then go for it. 

And...I've always wanted a photo of Caleb's basketball hoop. 

Tip #3 – Swipe Left

The best photos tend to be random and happen quickly. By the time you pull out your photo, unlock it, go to the photo app, and hit the shutter button, the moment is lost. There is a quicker way to get to that camera – just swim left! This skips all those other steps so you get get to the camera quickly and capture the moment.

Tip #4 – Clean Lens

Obvious, yes but yet I still fail to do this one as often as I should. Caleb is obsessed with my phone, especially when he realized it plays videos of dogs. Now, he’s constantly reaching for it, but his little boy hands can get the phone dirty. So now I need to be sure to clean off my phone’s photo lens to avoid blotches in photos. A nice microfiber cloth will wipe it off in a jiffy.

Tip #5 – Tap for Focus

You might notice the square that pops up when you take a photo. It usually tries to help identify faces. Help it out and tap on the square. This helps the camera focus on the face (or other object) to make a clearer photo.

Yes! Another photos I've been dying to have...the dump truck and toy truck driver.

Great, now you have a few tips in your back pocket. But, wait! Be sure to share the photos, too.

Idea #1 – Edit Photos

The phones have some great tools for editing photos. You can use the Photos app itself to edit; just click on the photo and you’ll see the edit tool on the bottom as three bars. In a hurry, use the automatic enhance wand. Otherwise, I love Retouch and Afterlight apps for retouching my photos. The former is great at removing unwanted objects from your photos (seriously, cool).

Idea #2 – Photo Share

We use the photo share a bunch in our house. When Caleb was born, we started a share with both sets of grandparents and share photos everyday. They love it!

Idea #3 – Print them Out

Don’t let your photos just sit there on your phone or computer…turn them into prints or books. Shutterfly, Artifact Uprising, Minted, Blurb, Apple...so many options these days. 

Now, say cheese!

Caleb's 19 Month Update

At 19 months, Caleb is now officially headed towards the big two and I'm sure it'll be here before we know it. He is definitely a toddler and loves to run, climb, point, tumble, tantrum, and "talk." I love his little wisps of hair and goofy personality. And, of course, the monthly block photos just get harder and harder. This time he thought throwing them on the hardwood floors would be a good idea. 

Bloopers

Everyone loves bloopers, right? I get a lot of those when trying to take Caleb's monthly photos. Here's a few favorites:

Nothing too crazy new over the past month. Still lots of "ohs" and "okays" and some more teeth popped in on the bottom. Josh was happy to see him eat meat like sausage, ground beef, and meatballs...thata boy. 

Playing

Playtime is the best time. Caleb couldn't think of anything better than spending an afternoon at the park. Well, I take that back. Trucks and cars would be pretty good ways to spend the day, too.

Oh, and a new game in the locker room - hid in the locker and then bang on it. Fun.

On the Go

Always on the go. Never stop. Only pause to point at something or check it out, otherwise just go-go-go. Many of my photos are of his back since he runs off as soon as his feet hit the ground.

Friends

We both love hanging with our peeps. We had some good times with our friends this past month. And of course, Caleb got some quality time with Asha. 

Nom Nom Nom

Caleb's favorite food is still fruit especially blueberries. Sadly, the blueberries on our bush are slowly disappearing for the season. :( We did get him to eat some meat this month, which was awesome. I think he was growing and having a protein craving since he stopped eating it after a week (mom shaking her head in frustration!). He also loves ice cream and froyo, so I know he's definitely taken up some of mom's favorites.

Too Cute

Ok, he wasn't really a naughty boy, but it was too good of a photo opportunity to pass up. It was a chair in a restaurant here in Tacoma.

We also introduced him to spray parks. He was a bit unsure about surprise water coming out of the ground, but I'm sure it'll soon be his favorite summer activity.

Mama and Papa

Good times with mama and papa. He was a trooper and went to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale with me. We got him some cute new shoes, but that's about all we could manage at the store. He'd rather spend time exploring or eating ice cream.

My cutie pie is growing up so fast and we love him to pieces!

Home Sweet Home for One Year

Today marks the one year anniversary of moving into our first home as well as our move down to Tacoma. I'd like to say I got some awesome pictures of the whole family in front of our house to commemorate the occasion, but Caleb was already down by the time Josh got home. And this mom ain't pushing back bedtime for a photo. 

I almost just posted a photo of the house (isn't it adorable?), but then Josh arrived home from work so we did a selfie (naturally).

We are so very happy in our home and with Tacoma. I particularly love...

...the window in our kitchen and how I can look into the backyard and see the flowers or dog running around. 

...the light that comes into the front room and how Asha and Caleb look outside together. 

...that we are so close to parks. There are at least three within walking distance. 

...the location. We can take a 15 minute walk to the Proctor district for coffee, library books, groceries, and the farmer's market. Or, hop in the car for fun at Point Defiance Zoo, Aquarium, and park. Or, go to the waterfront. 

...that we have a guest room, so friends and family can stay with us.

...our blueberry bush (wait, that's Caleb...well, I love it, too).

...that I know my way around town now, and we have our favorite spots (but still have opporunties to discover more!).

...that it is ours. 

It's amazing to think about all that has happened over the past year - especially with Caleb. It feels like we've lived here forever (in a good way). This definitely feels like home now!

Cheers to many more years! 

Caleb enjoying freshly picked blueberries from the backyard.

Truths and Life

I was just telling Josh the other day how I felt bad about my blog. I feel like I've neglected it a bunch lately...well, since Caleb was born. On top of that, it's has somewhat become a Caleb and family style blog. Not that this is bad, but maybe you're getting tired of it. I went on to talk about how I didn't know what else to write about anymore and not to mention my time feels much more limited. If I write a blog post lately, it's usually been for Hellobee. The time that I have to write is now in the evening, but by that time I just want to veg on the couch. I felt like throwing my hands up in defeat. 

However, as I was walking with Caleb and Asha this afternoon, I realized I do have things to write about in this blog space. Now, tell me if I'm wrong here, but I think you enjoy posts about the foods I cook and bake - remember Baker's Corner? Or how about what books I'm reading or shows I'm watch (like when I'm vegging on the couch). Maybe you're curious about my garden (it's growing). I could also tell you about Asha's new collar. The blog will go on....now, to find the time to write. But I have the motivation and ideas!

That was my truth, now about life. Here's some ramblings...

  • This article rang true for me. I'm tired.
  • Caleb does something everyday that cracks me up. Watch him after swim class in the YMCA locker room. 
  • Simply Recipes is a great blog and I have yet to have a bad experience with her recipes. This Vietnamese Style Noodle Bowl looks delicious. I have a crazy obsession with noodle bowls in the summer. Please make this for me.
  • I have never liked kombucha until this month. I think my taste buds changed after having Caleb. I like red wine and now kombucha. What's happening to me? Specifically, I like the Rainbow Cloud kombucha and have been sipping the Rose Jasmine flavor. I feel so healthy. 
  • I am pretty sure I am the tannest I have ever been in my entire life. I have a tan on my feet with lines for my flip flops. I should have a good store of vitamin D before we head into winter (because Winter is Coming, my friends).
  • I am on the eternal quest for good face lotion to use in the morning at night. I have some specific requirements - the AM lotion needs to have SPF and the PM lotion needs to help my aging face. I also don't want it to be so thin, I like to really think I'm getting moisture. Any recommendations?
  • I'm reading Business Boutique right now. Well see where it takes me. 
  • We're going to Kauai this September. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Now, can somebody fly with Caleb for me and just meet me there?
  • I bought these leggings in the Nordstrom Anniversary sale. I have this want to be a yoga mom, apparently. But really, I want to buy all. the. things. in the Nordstrom sale.

Okay, enough jibber jabber. Fingers crossed Caleb stops teething and starts taking longer naps again so I can use nap time for "me" stuff...like writing on this blog. 

P.S. I fear the time when nap time ends.

P.P.S. Here are some random photos for funnsies.

 

Blueberries from our backyard.

I've been baking bread lately and it's delicious!

Breakfast at a new neighborhood bakery.

The broccoli is coming in my garden!

Sweet peas and roses from our garden. Blue hydrangeas from a friend's yard..

A Happy and Fun Fourth

We had our very first Fourth of July celebration in Tacoma yesterday. We had a wonderful and patriotic day. Tacoma pretty much shuts down for the Fourth of July and everyone heads to the big Freedom Fair that runs along the water. This is just another thing we love about living in this town - you really get more of a small town feel here (and it's not really a small town!). We decided to join the crowds and check out the fair. 

Of course, to get there we had to walk down, and yes back up, a very steep hill - definitely got our workout for the day. 

At the Freedom Fair, there was an air and car show. Caleb's nap was during most off the air show, but we did catch some planes from our house. Pretty neat! But we did make it down for the car show, which I'm glad because Caleb got to see wheels. He loves wheels and shiney things, so the car show was a.w.e.s.o.me. He was in his happy place.

I always like to make something sweet to celebrate and cherries scream America to me. I got some delicious Rainier and Bing cherries and made a sweet cherry pie. 

Caleb is a fruit fanatic so naturally he's thrilled our backyard has a blueberry bush. He can't walk by the bush without getting a blueberry. And watermelon is a must for the Fourth of July. 

To wrap up the day, we fired up the grill and had some sausages and brats with coleslaw. Yum! No fireworks for us, but we heard them (so did Asha, and she was not thrilled or impressed with the booms). 

Hope you all had a great Fourth! Go America! 

Caleb's 18 Month Update

I seriously feel like I just wrote one of these month updates. And now Caleb has reached 18 months old -- that's 1-1/2 years. It really blows my mind, especially if I look back at a photo from last June. How much and how quickly these little ones grow. It's so amazing! 

I have to say, my favorite thing that Caleb does right now is ask to be picked up and then reaches out for the other parent and then wraps his arms around both of us in a big, family hug. He also grabbed both of our legs and hugs us. Oh my heart. Also, his kisses. I melt. 

Although sometimes when he wants to be picked up, he just wants to be carted around while he points and jammers at us to show him, take him, or give him something like a little prince. 

He's definitely in toddler-land now with tantrums and shaking his head no. Yes, I have now been the mom in the grocery store with the kid that's crying/screaming and turns into a rag doll when you try to pick them up. He does not want to be strapped down, especially not in a cart when there are things on the ground to explore. If I do let him down, he goes along and picks up groceries. For instance, two hug soy sauce jars, ribs, prepared mashed potatoes, and Ruffles were all placed in our cart at some point in our last shopping trip. 

But the hugs, kisses, laughs, and smiles make all the toddler moodiness disappear for me. 

Time with Mom & Dad

I know his joy of being with mom & dad won't last forever, so I better soak it all in now. My favorite is our afternoon froyo dates. 

Family & Friends

We love to hang out with friends - this month we saw Finely as well as Kaia and Matthew. 

And we also got to visit Grandma Jan & Grandpa John down in San Diego (see the post here). He just loves his grandparents. 

Just One Cute Guy

I realize I am biased, but isn't he just too freaking cute. His hand is in his mouth a lot these days - those dang teeth keep popping up!

Playtime and Gardens

Caleb likes to type on the computer and be like dad. Not sure what he's typing up, but it's serious business. But even more fun, is playing on the bed and plopping down on pillows. Heck, yes. 

Dirt and rocks are also fun to play with in the garden (he even tries to eat them, but mom doesn't allow it to Caleb's disappointment). 

Climbing

If it has an incline, he will climb. Stairs are the best, though. 

Favorite Toy

Oh my gosh, this car. He LOVES it. We have to hide it each night so he doesn't see it in the morning. Otherwise, it would be straight to playtime without breakfast. He'll push it, want to be pushed, climb on it, pretend steer it (like a crazy man), bring things into the car...it's the best toy ever, bar none.

Speaking of cars, this kid just loves anything with wheels. Actually, wheels, gears, or things that can be pushed or spun. He has such a curious mind and is so interested in figuring out how things work. I'm not sure if this is a normal kid thing or not, but it's so cool to see his so focused and interested in things. Maybe we've got a future engineer on our hands.

The Park

There are lots of parks in Tacoma, which is good since Caleb loves the park. If he sees a park now and we don't stop, he gets a bit upset. His favorite is probably the swing, but also climbing up to the slide is a close second. Of course, we go down the slide on our belly, feet first. It's the best way to slide.

Such a Ham

I can tell Caleb has a good sense of humor, and a goofy one at that (yea, kinda like his parents). It's hilarious when he sees something good or interesting and his mouth goes round and he says, "ohhhh!"

Ice Cream

This kids loves ice cream and froyo. He gets pretty serious about it with double spoons. Lots of focus in that face, right? I shared my ice cream with him on his 18 month birthday, and then later we paid for it with a crazy sugar high toddler. Worth it, though.

Yummy in my Tummy

Caleb's all time favorite food: blueberries. Then followed by any other fruit. Right now we are chowing on blueberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, melon, bananas, watermelon. I feel like half our grocery bill is on fruit. We have to hide the fruit - it's nuts.

Otherwise, he'll eat yogurt. Or the baby veggie/fruit pouches. Sometimes mac n' cheese or toast. But really, he's a picky and inconsistent eater and it dries me batty. It is cute that he'll go into the cupboard now and bring something over for me to give him. Usually it's right before a meal...of course.

Party party in my tummy, yummy yummy. Thanks Yo Gabba Gabba.

I love this little guy so freaking much!

Another Birthday

Honestly, I don't feel older. I also don't feel like I'm really an adult although all evidence points to it - married, house, baby, dog, no longer stay up late. Then again, I drive by the college, or worse a high school, and I see how freaking young the students are...and it's at that point I realize I am an adult and I am in fact older. Oh, and then I go on to complain about said college kid like, "look at how short that girls shorts are!" or something like that. Yea, I'm getting older. 

But that doesn't stop my from celebrating and enjoying the birthday fun. I'm always down for a weekend that's dedicated to doing and eating all the things I want to do (let's ignore how selfish and spoiled that sounds, mm-k?). This year I shared my birthday with all the dad's as it fell on Father's Day. I'm generous like that. 

Saturday started the celebrations. We got crepes for breakfast at Jewel Box. You know how I love crepes. Then some awesome gelato in the afternoon at a new place in our neighborhood called Alegre Bakery and Gelato (definitely a new favorite). 

Saturday evening we got our first babysitter that wasn't a parent. She actually was the gal that watched Asha when we were down in San Diego the weekend prior. She mentioned she babysits so I say, "yes, please!" So she watched Caleb while we went out to a nice dinner at En Rama in downtown Tacoma. The meal was delicious as were the drinks. My favorite dish was the braised chickpeas. Doesn't sound as good as they were, but they were so, so good. And my "bartender choice" drink that was like a Manhattan was perfection. We had a lovely and romantic evening. 

Sunday was my birthday and Father's Day. Unfortunately, Josh was sick with some wild stomach virus thing. While Josh rested up, Caleb and I finished off the cake I made for my birthday. Yup, I made my own cake. However, I love baking so it was a birthday treat in both ways - to make and to eat. By the way, it was a hummingbird cake and was completely scrumptious. I opened my cards and gifts and felt loved and happy.

Caleb took me out for some frozen yogurt since he knows how much I love it. He secretly loves it to. Okay, it's not so secret. Do you see how serious his face is when eating it? It's serious business. Don't get in his way from eating it. He certainly is my child. 

The birthday ended with with my birthday gift from Josh: he put Caleb to bed while I went and got a relaxing massage. Ahh, sweet relaxation. On the way home, I picked up Thai food, because Thai is my one of my all-time favorites. And that's a wrap. It was a great birthday (although poor Josh with getting sick on Father's Day - such a bummer. Don't worry, we'll treat him to a second Father's Day day). 

Cooking in the Summer Heat: 4 Methods + 8 Recipes

Ugh, summer heat. Sweat. Sticky. HOT! If you can’t tell, I don’t take the heat very well. I grew up in San Diego and it’s like anything under 65 is cold and anything over 78 is too hot. Now, I live in the Pacific Northwest and I’ve adapted a bit to the rainy, cold season. The summers are pretty awesome, but we always seem to get a few days were the heat is too much. And since we only have a few days of it every year, nobody invests in air conditioning. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE summer, but those super hot days can be rough.

It’s on those hot-hot days where cooking seems like a terrible idea, but dinner must be served. You want to serve healthy meals to your family without having to get take-out and spending a pretty penny. What’s a girl to do?

So in anticipation of those hot days, I came up with four different ways to make dinner without turning on the oven and heating up the whole house. Better yet, I’ve got some tasty recipes to go with it. I hope you are inspired to keep on keeping on in the summer heat.

1. Grill

In my mind grilling is synonymous with summer. Living in the Pacific Northwest really makes you appreciate the sun (although, we’re heat wusses). Standing in the rain trying to grill is just not what I call fun. So when the sun comes out, the grill is uncovered and put to action. We bought a new grill this season and I love it. It’s an awesome gas grill, so it’s quick to heat up and get dinner rolling.

Spinach Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers (with a kick) – Burgers are always a win on the grill, but I prefer turkey burgers. This is  thee  turkey burger recipe I use most often for turkey burger days. I often just use fresh spinach instead of the frozen, but both work great. Also, get the Tony Chachere’s as it really makes a big difference on these burgers. There is a little kick, but nothing to be worried about – this being said by a gal that can’t take much heat.

Grilled Moroccan Chicken – This is a recipe I discovered this year and the flavor is a knock out. We eat a lot of chicken in our household, so it’s always nice to get a change of pace. Definitely try serving it with the Moroccan couscous to make it a nice, well-rounded meal.

2. Salad

Is salad a method? Probably not. It seems like it should be to me. Like, “let’s salad it tonight, honey!” I usually waive off salads as a meal, but if you add some protein then for me it magically becomes a meal. I especially appreciate salads on hot, summer days when cooking seems like it’ll melt you (picture the Wicked Witch of the West) and you cringe at putting anything hot near you (or in your mouth). Then it’s salad to the rescue!

Greek Farro and Chickpea Salad – This salad is our new favorite and is on heavy rotation in our weekly meal plans. We usually add some grilled meat (we’ve tried chicken, steak, and pork – all great), however, it’ll can totally stand on its own. Farro is my new obsession and you should totally try it out if you haven’t already.

Chicken Blueberry Feta Salad – My favorite salads have fruit in them. It’s actually a spinach, apple, goat cheese salad that got me to start liking salads. This is a more sophisticated version and is so delicious and refreshing.

3. Crockpot

It might seem odd to pull out the crockpot in the summer as most of us consider it more of a fall and winter cooking method. You think stews and soups, which is not really what you crave in the summer. However, there are some great options for the crockpot for summer cooking. Better yet, it doesn’t heat up the entire house. I heart my crockpot and love discovering new recipes for it. I even discovered, but have yet to try, that you can even make banana bread in the crockpot!

Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken – When I was young, I loved those tubs of Lloyd’s BBQ pulled chicken. As an adult, I sort of cringe at the thought, but I still have that same love for pulled chicken. This recipe is delicious and is great as a sandwich or in quesadillas!

Slow Cooker Greek Chicken Gyros – Greek food is a favorite and feels so fresh in the summertime. This chicken has great flavor and something for the whole family to enjoy.

4. Stovetop

The stove is another great way to avoid heating up the whole house in the summer. My favorite thing on the stove is probably pasta. But the options are limitless. You can keep it simple and do a grilled sandwiches (amp them up like this one), quesadillas, eggs…just so much goodness.

BLT Pasta – Take a delicious sandwich like the BLT and make it a pasta, and I’m in! This is simple yet oh so yummy.

Caramelized Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa – Do you do Taco Tuesdays? Then this one is for you. These are scrumptious tacos and should be on your meal plan for this week.

Hungry yet? Happy Summer!