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.

Before Christmas, we got to see some good friends of the Brown family up in Seattle. 

Josh, Caleb, and I also got to see our good friends, Jeff and Melissa, with their son, Thomas. They were in town for the holidays and we got brunch and a quick stop at the park together (but ultimately, too cold to be outside for long!). If you can't tell, Thomas is Caleb's doppelganger. 

Photos thanks to Jeff Herbage

Caleb is in a major train kick right now. We all went to the Model Train Exhibit in town and he LOVED it. Chooo Chooo! Chugga Chugga! (That's all Caleb seems to say these days)

After Christmas, and after Grandma and Grandpa Brown had headed back home, we got in a lovely family walk at Titlow Park. We got to see a beautiful a rainbow!

Then there was the oven fiasco. OMG, friends. This is the longest, most annoying story. So our oven broke the first week of December. Of all the time in the year, it broke during the highest oven-needed month. UGH! The stove worked, but the oven wasn't heating. We had some repair guys come look to discover there was an electrical fire in the wires where you turn the knobs. It was going to cost more to fix the oven than to replace it, unfortunately. 

So we decided we would make the switch to gas. We had a plumber come get a gas hook-up for us (yes, a plumber, they do this apparently). When he was in our crawlspace, he found a leak from a corroded pipe with a HUGE crack. So we had to fix that. (Not sure why the guys we had come out to get rid of the mice didn't see that down there *scratching our heads*).  Then when the plumber pushed our stove back into place, the stovetop cracked and became unusable. 

We bought a stove/oven from Best Buy. It was a great deal, but when we came home we realized it wouldn't fit with the microwave cabinet that's above the oven. (side note: Josh went to go back to Best Buy, and his car wouldn't work). Finally, we found a gas stove that would fit, but it was more money they we had hoped since we needed a special kind that isn't as widely available. 

Story goes, Best Buy comes to deliver - days later than they could originally since they messed up - only to discover they packed the truck with a washer. They didn't know where our oven was! Luckily, it was found again. And they delivered it the Friday after Christmas (it was supposed to be delivered before Christmas, mind you). So no cooking for Christmas except for a hot pot and crockpot. 

And that's that. I immediately made Christmas cookies (after Christmas) and a loaf of bread. I missed my oven. This one is pretty awesome, though.

Long story--and that was my effort to shorten it...I warned you.

Caleb's 24 Month Update

Here we are at two years old. He's such little toddler and it warms my heart. Yesterday, he actually started to participate in the Wee Ones class at the Children's Museum. He's growing up right before our eyes. I would say these two years went by fast, but time with a baby/toddler is a a weird thing. It seems fast if I just quickly think about it. However, with further thought of all the days, all changes, the struggles, and all the joys, it also seems incredibly long. Life before Caleb seems like a different reality, a different life. Does that even make sense? I guess that's why everyone says. "the days are long but the years are short." I totally get that now. Eh, I'm getting way to deep here, I'll stop.

Well, I think I am going to retire the blocks now. My thoughtful mother-in-law gifted them to us before he was born. They were the cutest thing to do each month. I will probably break them out again at 3 years and maybe even for the school years. I was shocked for this last photoshoot that he actually stood still. It was a miracle. I told him to go stand behind the blocks and HE DID! I almost fell backwards in shock, but not before grabbing a few snaps. The moment was fleeting, but luckily I did capture a few snaps before he grabbed the camera and decided he wanted to take the photos. The lure of pushing a button is too much for a toddler dude. (And side note: Are you as happy as me to get my DSLR camera back working?).

The above & below photo collages is what happens when you can't decide which photos you like the best. For each one I think, "well that shows his [fill in the blank] side." Like this determined nature, or silliness. He's such a character!

Monthly Update

Here's everything he's done during his 23rd month. 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year 

December was a great month full of spirit and joy. Grandma Nada and Grandpa Brown visited for Christmas. This Christmas so so much fun with Caleb. He was so excited about the tree, presents...everything. We had a great holiday season. And yes, I still need to write a blog post about Christmas. 

During Christmas, we went to the Model Train exhibit at the Tacoma History Museum. Caleb is on a serious train kick right now. Everything is choo choo. This basically blew his mind. I think it was paradise for him. 

Then Grandma Jan and Grandpa John came for New Years and Caleb's birthday. We spent New Years Eve at the Point Defiance Zoo, which also has a carousel. We had a great time together. 

He's Quite the Ham

This kid is fully of the sillies. I laugh everyday with him. I feel like these photos need captions. 

  • Caleb "drank" from the Starbucks cup ornament on the tree. 
  • Caleb decided to go into a dog bed at Petco while we waited for Asha's grooming to finish.
  • The stickers were given to him at USPS store. The lady put one on his hand. Then looked at it, smiled, and then gave her his other hand. He kept them on all day.
  • Stickers go on your face and the top of your feet...apparently.
  • Caleb enjoys sitting at the computer and pretending to type. The parental guide popped up, which I found hilarious.
  • Our oven broke (long story and frustrating). While we were at Best Buy looking at new stoves/ovens, Caleb thought it'd be fun to go inside a dryer. 
  • He will literally watch YouTube footage of trains. 
  • He makes a stink face on command. He also does this if you ask him to smile.

His Eating Habits...Mainly Cookies

I didn't give him cookies, but he suddenly developed an obsession for cookies. Everything is a cookie - crakers, circles, donuts. He is also very messy. He seems to suck on things rather than bite and chew. I'm not sure how to correct this one. Mom fail? 

Always Finding a way to Play

Wherever you are, Caleb will find a way to have fun. The store has a yoga mat, then let's lie down on it. Carts at Costco become rollercoasters. Or how about piling yogurt lids on your toy car?

Rolling with his Homies

We've made such great friends and it's such a delight to see Caleb interact with friends. He gets excited if you say we're seeing a friend, it's so cute. An older friend had a party at the local theater. We came at the end, so he had his first theater experience. He was unsure at first, but was having fun by the end. 

Those Eyes, That Smile

He has the most addictive laugh and smile. Such a joy. Wait...joy, that's my middle name. I must have passed that on to him.

He'll wear any hat but his own

He'll wear mom's hat, dad's hat, the hat at the store...but NEVER his own hat. 

Caleb's Chalkboard 

I did this chalkboard infographic type thing for Caleb's first birthday, so here it is again!

Now we're living the life with a two year old. Hold on tight, it's gonna be a wild ride!

The big T-W-O

Can you believe it?! My little baby boy is two! TWO!!!! Of course, we had to celebrate with fun, friends, family, and treats. 

Poor guy, he basically has a holiday birthday. He was born January 2nd, so he's not quite a New Year's baby, but for me it all started on New Year's day so I say it counts. By his birthday, everyone is burnt out from Christmas and New Years. But this mom won't let the fun stop until after we party for his birthday! In fact, we celebrated twice - once on his actual birthday and again with friends at his party.

The Actual Birthday

This year Grandpa John and Grandma Jan were in town to help celebrate. Then Dad/Josh took the day off of work. Lots of family around to give Caleb birthday hugs and laughs.

As for treats, Caleb has two loves: frozen yogurt/ice cream and cookies. I think frozen yogurt beats ice cream only because it sticks to the spoon better so it's easier to eat. So, we all headed to Black Bear for some froyo. 

Caleb got some more gifts so we opened them. He LOVES his guitar from Grandma Nada and Grandpa Don. Seriously, he has his own jam sessions. Check out this video of him dancing

Grandma Jan and Grandpa John got him a wagon. We intended for him to sit and be pulled around, but he had something else in mind: pulling it. We should've know.  

I tried to get a cute picture of Caleb with this new sign, but he was more interested in playing with the sign. I usually take the birthday photos with the blocks, but the past few times he's thought it funny to knock them over - our wood floors fear him.

So the birthday was a nice day of treats, music, and wagon walks. 

The Big Party

Saturday, January 6th we celebrated his birthday with friends. We had the part at the Children's Museum of Tacoma. This is one of his favorite places - we go at least once a week. It seemed fitting (and easier than having it at home!). I called his party, "Ready TWO Play!" 

We partied for two hours. The first hour was in a party room. The kids played with play-doh, the parent's chatted, and then we all ate cookies.

Yup, cookies not cake. This kid loves cookies. It's probably the number one word used these days. He will randomly say it, too. Not to mention he thinks many things are cookies - crackers, circles, etc. He takes his fingers and pretends to eat and says, "cookie cookie cookie."  It's too freaking cute. So I put frosting on a cookie and used that for the candle. I made Cake Batter Chocolate Chip cookies and Funfetti Cookies Supreme. He grabbed both cookies - two hands, two cookies, two years. 

Here a video of us singing happy birthday to Caleb. I love how he sways with the singing and then tries so hard to blow out the candle.

Even though there is holiday burn out, we still had good friends show up to party! We are so thankful for such great friends. Caleb gets so excited these days when he hears his friend's name. We had Xola, Johann, Theo, Sebastian, and Liam. Yay for friends!

The second hour of the party was free play fun out in the museum. Caleb's face was red and flushed from all the running and playing...a true sign of a good time. He was all giggles. As we were all leaving, the kids all sat on the little blue couch and said, "cheese" for a picture. It was the cutest thing ever. 

Wow, just too much fun - this mom is tired out! But what a great celebration. Caleb is my little toddler, now. So grown up. We love him so much and can't believe how fast time has past. We are loving every minute with him (minus the tantrums...well ok, we will even take those as well, just because we love him that much). 

And I can't resist, here's Caleb at his two year check-up. He loved the paper on the bench. And he checked out great. Up to 8% from 2% in weight. Then up to 21% from 11% in height. My lower back knew he was growing. ;)

P.S. See all the birthday party photos here!

Very Merry Christmas

Can you believe it, it's here?! We are in the beginning hours of Christmas Eve. I'm so excited to begin all the festivities. I want to savor these days - they go so quickly and it's been such a wonderful season.

I am so thankful for all my family and friends. I hope you enjoy these magical days of Christmas. I send you my love and hugs. 

P.S. In case you missed it, our Christmas letter is up - just click "Christmas Letter 2017" in the top navigation. Or, I copied it below as well.

Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends and Family,

Merry Christmas! We feel so blessed to have enjoyed another big year in the Brown household. It’s been full of family, trips, and adventure.

Caleb

This year started with Caleb celebrating his first birthday. On January 2nd, we’ll already be celebrating his second birthday. How did this happen so fast?

Probably the biggest development for out little guy was learning to walk, or should I say run. He is a fast and curious little guy, which can be a recipe for trouble. Lucky for us, he is a real sweetie! He waves to everyone and everything:  people, buses, dogs - you name it, he'll wave it!  He even gives the phone a hug and kiss when the grandparents are on FaceTime.

He’s also started to say some words. His favorite word is “go go go” but its a close race with "no no no." He's also termed his own word, “go-kay,” which we believe means “go, okay!”(or maybe cookie, haha).

He is growing so fast and we are really treasuring all the cute moments.  For more check out the monthly updates, his first Halloween going trick-or-treating, and Easter

Trips

We were blessed with some awesome trips this year. In September, we joined Grandma Nada and Grandpa Don in Kauai. The 5-1/2 hour flight was rough with a toddler but was entirely worth it.

Josh and I got a few date nights thanks to the grandparents! We also enjoyed some great family time as we soaked in the vitamin D, sunshine, and warm water.  Caleb absolutely loved the beach too. He loved everything: playing in the sand, playing in the water, lying on the boogie board, and running on the beach. It was the perfect vacation for us!

Earlier in the year, we spent a lovely extended weekend in Portland. We realized we hadn’t been down there to visit since we moved to Seattle, which is funny since it’s only a few hours away. Portland has really changed since we were there, and the experience was a lot different with Caleb. However, we had a great time exploring and eating some delicious food.

The three of us also made a special trip down to San Diego in the summer to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. Of course, there was some exceptional wine and food as part of the celebration. We also got the opportunity to get photos of all of us together, as part of a gift to dad.

Work

Josh changed jobs and is now working for the Washington State Nurses Association. They were one of his clients and hired him to help with Membership and Digital Transformation projects. One of the biggest benefits of this job is it’s closer to home and the work hours aren't quite as intense either.

I am still doing the stay-at-home-mom gig. In my project manager style, I’ve got Caleb and I on a schedule to keep us busy. Every morning we have an activity planned. Our favorite place is the Children’s Museum of Tacoma. We are so lucky to have this near home. We also frequent the YMCA for swimming lessons, running around at Toddler gym, or this mama getting a yoga stretch in.

Asha

Our pup turned three in December. She still acts like she’s three months old, though! We think we finally pegged the type of dog she is, a Plott Hound. Or, at least, she definitely has that in her for sure.

She still loves to go to the park and chuck-it as well as stick her head out the window when we drive around. The latter brings many smiles to other drivers faces, as they see her with her ears flapping and an expression of pure joy. She’s great with Caleb, who now sort of walks her, and is a big part of the family.

Tacoma

We have officially lived in Tacoma for over a year now and we are loving it. It has turned out to be a great place to raise a child and we love the community. We are excited to be here and even more excited to see it grow. Oh, and having our own house is pretty swell, too!

This year has been full of such joy. We hope this holiday season is bringing you cheer and merriment.

Merry Christmas!

Josh, Heather, Caleb, and Asha

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas...

This season has been busy, busy, busy, busy...so busy. But also fun, fun, fun, fun!!! I love Christmas. The season started off going slow, but now I'm like "wait...hold on! Slow down!" Can you believe Christmas starts this weekend? So excited and yet I want the season to continue for much longer.

I'm going to keep the writing short, and the photos long on this one (well, like most of my posts these days, haha). 

Santa Visit

Of course, we had to see Santa. Caleb handled it very well. No crying, in fact. Although, he was WAY more interested in the candy cane than in Santa. He wasn't sure why he was sitting with Santa, but if it meant getting to eat a candy cane, then he was all for it. I was pretty surprised to find how much he likes candy canes. He never ceases to surprise me. 

Check out last year...the Santa visit was much smoother this year.

Reindeer at Watson's Nursery

I heard there were reindeer at Watson's Nursery, so we made a trip one Sunday afternoon to say hi. Caleb did actually waive and say "hi" to the reindeer. He does this with most animals. There was a cute little shop and Christmas trees (although, we got a tree at a place closer to home).

Our Christmas Tree

We got our tree at the same place as last year, Gardensphere. We put Caleb in the stroller and Asha on the leash, and walked over to it. It's a great family owned nursery, so it's great to support them. Plus, they do free delivery and setup. Sold! 

We got the tree all decked and glowing. I love the baby's breath and poinsettias on our tree. The baby's breath idea is from the Brown family and the poinsettias from the O'Neill family. Caleb just loves the tree. He says, "wow" whenever he sees it and insists the lights be turned on. He also likes to bring me ornaments. 

Festival of Trees 

We joined our friends Bri and her son, Johann, at the Festival of Trees in Tacoma. The boys loved the trees - each with a theme. They especially liked the trees themed as kids gifts. Soooo tempting to just crawl under the rope (well wait a second, they did try that). 

Gingerbread House

I bought a gingerbread kit at Costco, so Caleb and I put one together. Caleb preferred to eat the gingerbread man and candy, but he did get some candies on the house. 

Stepping into Christmases Past

We went to Fort Nisqually's 19th Century Christmas, which as quite fun even thought we were cutting it close to nap time. Father Christmas was fun, and again Caleb enjoyed a candy cane. 

Christmas Spirit Around Town

We went to a few craft festivals, shopping, and walking the neighborhood and seeing lights. My favorite was when Caleb first saw the stockings. He asked what it was and I said it as a stocking, so he tried to put it on his foot. Too cute!

Decorating the House & Wagon Rides

I got out all the decorations and the house is full of wrath and spirit. I love it. 

Caleb enjoyed the red wagon after visiting Santa. Isn't that sweater the cutest? Caleb loves it too since it has a truck and a dog. 

Zoolights

The Point Defiance Zoo lights up each night during the season for Zoolights. We went with our neighbor and friends, Krissy and her son, Sebastian. The lights were beautiful and the kids enjoyed the goats and carousel. A bit chilly but good fun!

We have a few more days to continue to celebrate. I'll be sure to fill you in on all our festive fun!!

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?