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.

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!

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!

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!

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!!!

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! 

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). 

Portland Mini-Trip: Adventure Edition

The food on our recent trip to Portland was stellar. I'm still drooling over it. But, food isn't everything. Right? It's actually the combination of food and experiences that make a trip fantastic. Good Food + Fun Times = Great Trip. Lucky for us, our PDX trip had both!

Where we Stayed.

We stayed at at AirBnB, which we decided it best if you're traveling with a baby/toddler/kid. You can a kitchen, get more space (multiple rooms, even), and more privacy (no worrying about the people next door hearing a crying baby at 2am). We loved our experience on our babymoon, and loved this experience as well. I think we're regular AirBnB-ers now. 

Our AirBnB was in a great location on Nob Hill and just a few blocks from NW 23rd Street, which has tons of restaurants and cute shops. This turned out very convenient on the first morning when it snowed. We just walked down the street for our coffee and donuts. I also managed to getaway during one of Caleb's naps to go through the shops. It felt so great to get out and just browse without worrying if Caleb was fussing. 

I think the AirBnB may have been Caleb's favorite part of the trip. We loved the stairs. If you set him down, he would immediately head to the stairs and banister. It was pretty hilarious. 

We thought the place was great. Josh thought it would make the perfect bachelor pad. HA!

Here's a video tour of the place! (a video brought to you by me)

What we Did.

Oblations Paper Press

There was so much we wanted to do and such limited time. On the must list was revisiting the site of our engagement. Josh did the cutest proposal at Oblation Paper Press in the Pearl District. It was a walk down memory lane as we strolled the Pearl District and headed to Oblations. Sadly, the brunch place we ate at before he proposed is gone now as is the red couch in the store itself. But, it was fun to go back and relive our proposal day - such happy memories, such a happy day! Don't we look so young? And blond hair - haha.

Powell Books

What's a trip to Portland without a visit to Powell's Books? We got lost in there the last time we visited, and then our cell phones didn't have any service so we wondered around trying to find each other for a good while. Luckily, we stayed together this time so no getting lost. We mostly checked out the children’s section. There were tons of children's books and we had a awesome time checking out the books. Caleb enjoyed some of the books as well, but mostly he enjoyed pushing his stroller through the aisles. We ended up getting the Opposites book and the Children’s Book of Virtues for Caleb's library collection. 

Downtown & Ace Hotel

The lobby of the Ace Hotel is a great place for photos. As you can see from the Then & Now photos below, we've made this stop before...many years ago. We haven't changed much...right??!! 

We didn't spend much time downtown. We didn't even go to the main square where Nordstrom and stores are located. We walked by the food truck area, and the Ace Hotel on our way to Powell's and the Pearl District from our parking spot. I guess we'll have to spend more time downtown next visit (and get some shopping on - especially with the no sales tax!).

Pearl District

As I mentioned above, we went to Oblations and Powell's which are both in the Pearl District. We have always enjoyed this area of Portland - trendy, hip, and cool buildings. We didn't spend much time going into shops or anything, but we did enjoy walking around a bit. If we had more time, we would have spend more time walking around and probably grabbing a bite to eat in this 'hood. But alas, time beckoned us to be quick (and so did Caleb's nap time). 

NW 23rd Street

This was just a few blocks from our AirBnB. There are such cute shops along NW 23rd. I could have done a lot of damage if I let myself do some serious shopping. But I have restraint...a little. I did get a cute hat at Goorin Bros. We also grabbed some treats at The Meadow. This was also the street where Salt and Straw, Barista, and Blue Star Donuts was located. 

Waterfront 

When we pulled up to the Waterfront it was practically hailing. Then, after about 10 minutes the sun came out. That's the Pacific Northwest for you. Josh likes to say, "if you don't like the weather, just wait 15 minutes." It's pretty true. Anyway, before grabbing dinner, we did a stroll along the waterfront. It was quick beautiful with the sun coming through just after the rain. There was even a rainbow! This is such a lovely place for a stroll in the early evenings. 

Pine Street Market

Pine Street Market is a relatively new addition to Portland - it just opened in the spring of 2016. Josh and I alway seem to find ourselves at these type of marketplaces. We love the concept, find the buildings they are in super cool (usually they are historic buildings), and think it's fun to see a few different restaurants of a city all in one space. Pine Street Market was originally a Carriage & Baggage Building that was used as a livery and horse-drawn carriage storage facility until the early 1900s (read more about it here), which we found interesting. Deciding where to eat was tough, but with the rainy day we opted for ramen. Afterwards we just had to buy some bread and pastries for later. Definitely a fun place to have a meal and check out. It worked especially well for bringing a noisy toddler to as well. 

Portland Children’s Museum

Wow! This is a GREAT children's museum. It's much bigger than the Children's Museum of Tacoma will all different rooms and activities. It was perfect for the rainy day, too. Caleb has a blast even though he did get bird poop on his head as we walked into the museum! I think his favorite activity was the mega bright lite board. He also enjoyed the grocery store, vet, construction site, and campsite. Oh, and there was a room with African instruments, and he learned to play the drums. Definitely a place to take your kiddo, and we will be back for sure!

That was quite a lot to do in just a day and a half! We had tons of fun and are so glad we were able to get down to Portland for a quick, last-minute getaway. 

Tacoma Explorations: Salmon Beach

One of my favorite things about my relationship with Josh is the fun we have exploring together. I had an adventurous spirit before meeting him, but it's so much more fun with your best friend. 

With moving to Tacoma, we've had the opportunity to explore our new town. You may remember my earlier post on my first few Tacoma explorations. The explorations have continued, and just last weekend I was at the salon when my hair gal mentioned she lived on Salmon Beach. Neither Josh nor I had heard of this place, but it sounded cool. So the next day, we hopped in the car to check it out.

It turns out it's only like 5-10 minutes from our home. It's a small waterfront community that started in the early 20th century. It's about 100 cabins built on stilts at the bottom of a steep bluff near the Tacoma Narrows. Many of the cabins are in original condition, and cabin 97 is even on the National Register of Historic Places. There is only parking lot on top of the cliff for residents, so visitors have to park further away and walk in. 

We had no idea about the walk and steepness and honestly we weren't prepared. We didn't have the normal baby carrier. As we parked to start the adventure, we were talking about how we forgot the stroller. Ha! That would NOT have worked at all, so good thing we forgot it. We did have the back-up carrier, so I strapped that on for Caleb.

As a visitor, you have to walk down the road for about a quarter mile to reach the resident parking lot and top of the bluff. Then you can either go down steps or just a sloped trail to get down to the cabins and beach. 

We headed down and we were greeted with these cool cabins. There is a wooden pathway between the bluff and cabins that you can walk along. At the one end, there is a beach with great views of The Narrows Bridge. You also get a closer look at the stilts of all the cabins. 

It's really quite quirky. I imagine it's hard to lug stuff up and down, so if you bring something down it usually stays down. The residents have really made it there only little community. And everyone seemed to have a kayak.

As we walked along, we met Roger "the historian" (this is how he introduced himself). He wrote one of those Images of American books, this one being, Tacoma's Salmon Beach. He was really kind and apparently his wife was the artist of the mermaid statue in my photo below. He offered for us to swing by his cabin, but only after we visited cabin 97 which is the cabin on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Caleb also seemed to enjoy all the sites. On the hike back up the bluff (work out!!) he was giggling and laughing the whole time (as his mom huffed and puffed up the hill). Asha was in on the fun as well.

It was a fun afternoon as we lucked out in some clear weather and a break from all the rain. We loved the views and enjoyed checking out a new place. 

Caleb's First Birthday

Inconceivable! Hmm, "I do not think it means what you think it means." Okay, Heather, that was nerdy.

But seriously...oh.my.gosh Caleb is 1 year old now. It really does seem inconceivable sometimes. Yet, here we are with practically a toddler now. Generally I would launch into how quickly the year has gone by and yada yada. In reality though, sure it went fast, but parts of it went extremely slow. Like those nights where you wake up every three hours. That seemed slow. Or the days where he was Mr. Fussy pants and was all crankiness most likely due to who-knows-what -- sick, teething, tummy ache, it's a toss up sometimes. Yea, that all seemed slow.

Overall, though, I look back and think, "wow, we've raised this little guy from birth to a year old. That happened fast!" I keep thinking back to last year at this time. It's been an incredible journey so far (and it'll keep going and keep being incredible!). This has been the hardest, but most rewarding year of my life. Life has changed radically and I do not think I can even put it into words. It's been amazing to watch Caleb grow from the tiny little 5 pound 6 ounce newborn to his current 17 pound 5 ounce boy. I look at his newborn photos and it seems unreal now, but it still melts my heart. 

The little guy we have before us today still melts my heart. I'm 100% sure he'll melt my heart for the rest of my life. I go gaga over his little arms raised at me saying, "lift me up, mama!" Or that little finger he loves to point at everything and say "dat!" Or when he speed crawls down the hall, then stops and looks back expecting me to speed crawl after him. Then he continues on laughing. That laugh - it's contagious! Can you tell I'm in love? Is my gushing starting to get a little annoying. Well, it's my motherly duty. 

I bought him this adorable orange shirt. I think he looks pretty good in orange. He also looks good in blue; it brings out the blue in his eyes. Fun fact: the #1 thing strangers comment on are his blue eyes. They do seem to have a brilliant shade of blue and sparkle, especially when he smiles. The other two most commented things are his simple & dimple - he has a cute dimple on his cheek when he smiles. Also, I often get told he should be a Gerber baby model. I tend to agree (but I might be biased). 

To celebrate his first birthday, we had a small little get together at our home. I themed it "Winter ONEderland" (with sub-theme "celebrating Caleb's first on the first" since we had the party on 1/1/17) - yea, I'm corny. We decorated in blue, silver, and white to make it all wintery. Josh dressed up our holiday bear bust for the party, too. I thought it was pretty hilarious. It was fun to put it all together. Honestly, Caleb just wanted to tear everything down and put it in him mouth, so this was really for the parents. 

I got my crafty hands out and made this little chalkboard sign for the party. I wrote a DIY post if you're interested in how I made it. It was fun to put together and think about all the Caleb-isms. Although I realized I missed a few things. Under "I Love" I totally should have listed that he loves the Apple TV remote. It's crazy how much he loves it. What didn't fit were listing nicknames like "Captain Yogurt Face" given to him by Josh. Or what he's known for: his dashing smile, dimple, and blue eyes. Or his favorite word: Dat. Otherwise it really sums him up! 

Of course, we had to have cake. What's a party without cake. I made Caleb a little smash cake. I used the How Sweet It Is Mini Sprinkle Smash Cake recipe and it turned out quite tasty and totally sweet. I considered one of those healthy smash cakes they say for babies, but then I was like...why? We are celebrating..with sugar!

I totally expected Caleb to smash it and rub the cake and frosting through his fingers like he does with all his other food. Instead he just sort of stared at it. I took some and put it in his mouth and that got him interested, but he really didn't go smash crazy. I do like that he picked up half of it and tried to take a bite. Here's a video of us signing happy birthday, figuring it out, and taking a bite

The rest of us got cupcake versions of the smash cake. Of course, I didn't want to have folks leave on a sugar high, so we also provided snacks and beverages. We were sure to have some Caleb's Kola around as well. And who am I kidding, more sugar - hurray! So there was my new favorite crockpot hot chocolate

We did enjoy celebrating and Caleb enjoyed sitting in his throne, I mean high chair, waiving his king scepter, I mean party horn. 

Bday_One.jpg

And no party is a party without friends! We had a few friends over to help celebrate. 

It was great to have a little fun to celebrate one! I still have to post the usual update, but I thought you'd like to hear all about the party first. So up next: 12 month update! I'll be sure to gush some more. ;) 

Thanksgiving: The Outcome

I bet after My Thanksgiving Game Plan, you've been scratching your head wondering how it actually turned out. And then I didn't post anything and you were very upset with me. How could I post such good looking food and then never following up. I shall not disappoint you this time...here's my update!

So the dinner was...wait for it...AWESOME! I couldn't be more pleased (ok, I'm a perfectionist and being so I always seem to find something that "could have been better"). 

Here's how it all looked on the table

Oh man, I want it all again. A few things are missing from the above. The horror! So here's my plate from the meal. I should have a bit of everything on there. I ate it ALL. It was Thanksgiving after all. I even went for a few nibbles more of some of my favorites. 

Let's see, my favorite was probably the cornbread stuffing. Although, the turkey earned it's place as the main dish. It was so delicious. The mashed potatoes really turned out great, too. We were all surprised at the cranberry sauce. It was wonderful! I feel bad for cranberry sauce as it's usually an after thought side dish. Although it can really be a great addition, especially for leftover sandwiches. Oh, and the gravy. It topped it all off (literally, ha!).

The green beans were good, but I just feel like they weren't something I was drooling over for more. Maybe a bit too much work in the end for them. The caramelized onions did bring them up a notch for sure, though. The sweet potatoes were also great, but nothing crazy special - just good, solid sweet potatoes. I think the least successful was the rolls. For me, they were more dense, but everyone else seemed to like them. Maybe it's just me being a perfectionist. 

Well, I take all that back...the pie. It was a knock-out it was soooo good. The crumb topping was phenomenal. Honestly, though, I think it was the home roasted pumpkin that really upped the ante on this one. You really need to make this pie. 

So there you have it. I got some definite keeper and re-make recipes - hello, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and turkey. Welcome to my holiday rotation! 

More important than the food, however, was family. I am so thankful to have such a beautiful and sweet little boy this Thanksgiving. Not to mention, a wonderful hubby. Don and Nada, my in-laws, are the best in-laws a gal can have. They are so generous and treat me like their own daughter. I feel so blessed and I am so thankful for the family in my life. My only wish is that my family and in-laws all lived closer so we could spend more quality time together. Luckily, holidays bring family together and that is my favorite part of the holidays. Cheesey to say, yes, but oh so very true. 

Now onto Christmas cookies and food. Nom nom nom. I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. 

A New Home, A New Town to Explore

You probably heard by now, but we just bought a house! If this is the first you've heard of it, then read this post. We have been here about half a month now, which is hard to believe. The past couple weeks we've been exploring the Tacoma area, or what I like to call T-Town. Most of the exploring is Caleb and I while Josh is at work (sorry Josh). Caleb is a great explorer and a real trooper. When I buckle Caleb up into his carseat, I like to say, "are you ready to go on another adventure my little adventurer?" I'm sure doing this will make him a true Indiana Jones fan later in his childhood. 

So far, T-Town has kept us busy - lots to see and do. Thank goodness because I need to get out to feel sane everyday (#momlife). Here's some of what we've been up to lately...

Farmer's Markets

There is one almost everyday of the week. The big one is on Wednesdays on Broadway. There were lots of food vendors, produce, flowers, and other artisan items. We also went to the 6th Avenue market, but it was much smaller. This weekend, all three of us went to the Proctor Farmer's Market, which isn't far from our house. We got some yummy things like cheese, peaches, pork, bread, and spinach! 

Tacoma Public Library Baby Time

This was a fun time with the little ones. We sang songs, played with bells, pulled the kiddos in buckets around the library, and read some books. 

Point Defiance - Rose Gardens

Point Defiance is a huge park that's only about 5 minutes drive from our house. I'm thrilled to have it just around the bend and will be great for Caleb. There is a 5-mile drive that I've used a few times now to get Caleb to sleep (we've had some super hot summer days here and the house is too warm for naps!). 

There is also a beautiful rose garden section to the park. My favorite part was the rose tunnel, but all the flowers were in bloom and so colorful. It made for a lovely stroll on a summer day. 

Point DefianceOwen Beach

There is a great stroll along the water at Point Defiance, too. It runs from the Marina to Owen Beach. On a hot day, it's so nice with the breeze off the water and it tends to be shady. It has some great views of the Sound (Vashon, Gig Harbor, and Mt. Rainier!). You can get a great view of Mount Rainer - the pictures don't do it justice. I think this will be a favorite walk of ours.

Waterfront - Ruston Point

There is a great waterfront in Tacoma. Again, this is such a pleasant walk. There are some tasty restaurants along here as well. It's fun to walk and look out at the water and to see downtown Tacoma in the distance. Again, this is only a few minutes from our house!

Tacoma Nature Center

You might notice a trend in my outings - outdoor and walking. It works well with the little guy. Sadly, this trail doesn't allow dogs, so the Asha pup had to stay home. It's a great loop - the short walk is 1/2 mile and the long loop is 1 mile. It was peaceful and nice. 

Wright Park & Seymour Botanical Conservatory 

What a great park! Ducks, fountains, and a great splash area for kiddos. There is also a beautiful conservatory. It wasn't a huge park, but it was a wonderful to walk around. 

Coffee Shops

I think I've been to every coffee shop in Tacoma. I kid, that's not true. Or, is it...this mama likes her lattes! I really enjoyed the Lift Bridge Coffee and Anthem Coffee on my downtown meanderings. Other favorites so far are Valhalla, Bluebeard, Metronome, and Cafe Brosseau. Yum! 

And the adventures will continue! We're really enjoying getting to know the area and all it has to offer. Tacoma is our new home and we're excited to be here! 

Good Friends, Nature, and a Wedding

The other weekend, Josh and I were down in the Sierras in California. Before we went on the trip we were saying it was near Lake Tahoe, but now that we've been I'd say it's closer to Truckee...kinda. Here's a map if you're a visual person like me. 

We were down there for an important reason - our good college friend, Chris (who actually roomed with Josh sophomore year and later lived with after college), was marrying Tori. Hurray! We were thrilled to make the trip down and see them tie the knot. It was also great to see all of our other great college friends. These are friends that you can pick up where you left off, even if it's been a few years. 

As I said, we were basically in the middle of nowhere, but specifically at a place called Gray Eagle Lodge. It was a cute lodge that had cute, little cabins all around. Of course, being in the middle of nowhere we had no Internet service. WHAT?! What are going to do. It took a few hours for our wifi detox, but in the end it was a nice break. 

Anyway, back to friends talk. Look at this gang - then and now...crazy! The top one was 2005, 10 years ago, when we were in Lake Tahoe for 4th of July. The bottom is when we took a hike near the lodge when we were at Gray Eagle together. A few folks missing, but you get the idea. 

Or how about this little gem. The guys at the Santa Clara Senior ball, and then at the wedding. HA, so entertaining to look back at the old photos. Also, look at how better cameras have gotten...dang.

So you get the idea - long time friends. We really had a great time. Friday and Sunday was mostly traveling to/from the wedding, so the bulk of the fun was on Saturday. 

Saturday morning we when on a hike (sans bride & groom, of course). The trail started at the lodge and we hiked out to a little waterfall. It was a great hike on a beautiful day.

After working up an appetite on the hike, we grabbed some grub in the town of Graeagle, and then enjoyed it picnic-style at a nearby brewery.

Then it was time for the big event, the wedding! Of course, it was beautiful, sunny day up until the ceremony. Right at 4pm, there was a loud burst of thunder and then the rain came. They were prepared, though, with tons of IKEA umbrellas and tarps. I hear rain at your wedding is good luck. A few of these photos are courtesy of Jeff Herbage (thanks Jeff!).

After the ceremony, the rain stopped. Yup, pretty much. We grabbed some group photos. Maybe in 10 years I can compare these photos with another gathering. Wouldn't that be awesome?! (Thanks to Jeff again for these photos).

Then there was the reception. It had the. best. cheese. table. EVER. It was to die for, you guys. The food was good, the company great, and then we boogied all night long (okay, so maybe to like 11pm - we're getting older apparently). It was tons of fun. (Let's thank Jeff one more time for some of the photos). 

And that was one fine weekend with one great group of friends. 

P.S. More of my photos are on this Flickr album

Cruising the Chuckanut

Imagine it's Memorial Day again. It's sunny, family is in town, and you have a three day weekend. Doesn't that sound nice? Well, I can tell you, it was nice. 

My in-laws, Don and Nada, were in town in May. Two bookend weekends since Nada had work down in Tacoma for a week. The second weekend was Memorial Day weekend. We decided to show the Browns some Washington beauty and cruise down Chuckanut Drive. It's sort of like Hwy 9 for you Californians. You may remember Josh and I cruised this drive previously and really enjoyed it. 

And guess who joined us for the ride. This little pup. She was ready to ride!

We started our drive in La Conner, which is a cute little town near where all the tulips bloom each year for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  We didn't see tulips, but we did see some beautiful flowers. Oh wait, one of those photos is not flowers - eh, close enough.

The Rainbow Bridge is near La Conner, which connects you to Fidalgo Island. We did a little jaunt over the bridge and back just to see what the other side was like. There were some nice waterfront houses over there, but we didn't explore too much over there. There was much more cruising ahead of us. 

But before we left La Conner, I had to get one shot of the pup because she's the cutest. Don also got a similar shot - plus some others - check it out.

After La Conner, we jumped in the car and headed up to Edison. Yes, it was named for the inventor, but I'm not sure why. It is a teeny, tiny town but super cute.

While in Edison, we enjoyed lunch at Slough Foods - tasty sandwiches and soup. We had a great time...

We grabbed some cookies from Breadfarm and then headed on our way - back on the Chuckanut Drive. I don't know what the next spot is called, but to me it's the start of Chuckanut Drive. I think it's what you see on some of the Chuckanut Drive brochures, and if not, it should be. We just pulled over, so you just got to be careful with the traffic zooming by with other Chuckanut cruisers. 

We hopped in the car and cruised some more and hit Taylor's Shellfish. While I don't like oysters, it's fun to drive out to Taylor's. You have to cross over some unprotected train tracks. A train came and freaked out Asha. And not surprisingly, there are lots of oyster shells on the ground out there. 

I must have gotten tired since my photos stopped after Taylors. But we did continue to drive (sorry, I should say cruise) up the drive some more. It twists and curves and has some awesome sites. and ends up in Bellingham. We didn't spend too much time in Bellingham since we needed to head back. The road back was just the 5 - nothing too special there. 

It's really a great drive. I've done it twice now and enjoyed it both times. I tell ya, you can't beat Washington's natural beauty. Now, cruise on my friends!

Taco Libre Truck Showdown

On Saturday, Josh and I decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a bit early and eat some delicious tacos at the Taco Libre Truck Showdown. Basically, local food trucks gathered at one location and served out their best plate of tacos. Tacos....count us in.

We knew it'd be crowded (hello, tacos) but we didn't realize it'd be this crowded.

We almost turned around and said forget that! But the tacos lured us back. And what the heck, what else are we going to do, go home and watch TV? It's sunny. It's tacos. Let's do it. 

Considering the length of the lines. We had to just chose a truck and go with it knowing it would probably be the only one we'd go for. We opted for the Asian influenced, Buddha Bruddah.

So we waited. And waited. And whispered to each other about the obnoxious group behind us. It was fun and good people watching.  

Oh boy, we're getting closer. Also, I'm impressed that the gal was able to continue to smile considering her line was a mile long. 

See, she's still smiling.

As we neared, the menu appeared. Oh so delicious sounding...Oh so hungry!

We ordered three carne asada tacos and three sweet & spicy carnitas tacos.

We finally got our tacos, hunkered down on the curb, and chowed down. 

I'm mean, look at me go...

I am happy to report: the tacos were worth the wait. They were delicious! 

And so, with full bellies, we left. 

It was good. It was fun. And we 

Puppy Love

Asha has now officially been with us over a month now, and we still love her as much as the first day we got her. In fact, maybe even more so! We took her to her first vet appointment the other week, and she has also officially doubled in size. Wowza! She is still such a puppy and full of puppy love (and energy!). I guess they do have to grow up eventually, but we're hanging on to these adorable puppy moments (except when she's gnawing on your hand or running out the door and down the street).

Of course, I have been taking a TON of photos of her. I'm probably annoying the heck out of my Instragram buddies. However, I've asked a few friends & co-workers, and they said that this was socially acceptable - apparently there is no limit to puppy photo sharing. Even with their assurances, I feel a bit guilty posting so many Asha pictures. But then again, I keep posting them because gosh darn it, she's the cutest. So, I thought I ought to get this Asha-photo-sharing out of my system and post just a sh*t load of photos. 

Doggie Cuteness

Those eyes. That face. They get me every time. Isn't she the cutest?

Sleeping Pup

We don't have a puppy webcam, but I'm about 99% sure she is sleeping most of the day. She is pretty much crate trained, which I highly recommend. The times I have worked from home, I glance over and she's just snoozing. 

She also likes to do puppy yoga - she'll do downward dog and frog legs. It's hilarious!

Out and About Pup

When we first got Asha, she didn't like getting into the car. Now, she just hops in and gives us a look that says, "hey guys, where are we headed?!" I'm so glad she likes to travel with us! 

Outdoor Playtime

Asha loves herself some good outdoor playtime. One of her favorite things to do is roll on her back and wiggle all around. She also knows how to play fetch (well, sorta...we're working on it).

Walking the Dog

Asha has a great dog life so far. She gets three walks a day. Needless to say, we're getting our exercise, too. So far my favorite walks have been at Discovery Park and to the Ballard Locks.

Pup and Us

Now that we have a dog, plenty of our time is walking and playing with her. It's a good life change and we're so happy she's part of our little family.

Asha Expressions

Gosh darn it, her facial expressions are the sweetest. It's hard to capture them on camera, though. My favorite is when you make a funny noise and she crooks her head left and right quizzically. 

Asha Kisses

And sometimes she just wants to give you a kiss. 

I warned you. Don't say I didn't warn you...So many photos! And this wasn't even all of them. More will come. Take that as a warning or a treat...you choose.

Win or Lose - Seattle is still 12th Man Fans

The city of Seattle has been in mourning this past week. Sadly, the Seahawks lost in the Super Bowl last Sunday. It sure was a close one, though, and it definitely was sit-at-the-edge-of-your-seat at the end. It was a good run, and a great way to end the season. Win or lose the city will continue to love it's Seahawks. 

It's all really inspiring actually. Here I am, a girl that barely understands the game, wearing a Seahawks jersey and eating Skittles. The excitement that oozes from Seattlities is totally infectious. A years ago I didn't even know who Seattle's football team was, and now I know a few key players. Of course, it helps that we made it to the Super Bowl the past two years, but still you can tell the city bleeds blue and green. Heck, we even got the title 12th Man. 

Now that the end of the week is here, you can tell it's settling down. There are less posts on Facebook, my co-workers are more cheery, and the city is moving on to other sports. But before it all goes away (okay, it never will) let me share some fun football stuff!

***

This Bad Lip NFL reading pretty much had me in tears. Oh, and here's another one. I die.

There was a Twitter smackdown between Captain America (Chris Evans), a Patriots fan, and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), a Seahawks fan. The stakes? If the Patriots won the Super Bowl, Chris Pratt would visit Christopher’s Haven as Star-Lord and wear a Tom Brady jersey. If the Seahawks won, Chris Evans would have to visit Seattle Children’s Hospital to wave the Seattle’s 12th Man Flag in his Captain American outfit. We lost, but we also won because got Chris Evans followed through and came to Seattle's Children Hospital.

The game that got the Patriots to the Super Bowl had some controversy around it..Deflate-gate. But, don't worry, it was all Matt Damon -- I am the Locker Room Guy.

Did you miss the commercials? Here's the top 10. The Nissan one almost had me in tears.

This is a bit graphic so beware, but Conan with Marshawn and Gronkowski was pretty hilarious. Marshawn also shows Conan how to do his touchdown move.

I follow the Everywhereist and she gave some tips on how to overcome the sadness of losing. 

***

And here are some photos from the season of the 12th Man Fans! 

Oracle Office - Blue Friday

Hey, I'm In! 

Seahawk Rally

And now...

Go Mariners! 

Go Sounders!

Go Seahawks! (next year, I feel it!) 

Cooking Classes are so Hip

If you know me, you know I love being in the kitchen. I especially like baking, but I also enjoy cooking as well. So when the opportunity to get my team at work to a cooking class came up, I didn't pass it up.

As a team, we're always talking about doing some sort of outing. There is talk of indoor sky diving, trapezing (is that a word? trapeze, anyway...), or some other crazy adventurous activity. Let's be real people; we're all uber busy and finding time to plan and go on an outing is tough let along doing something crazy. I figured we were more likely to actually make it happen, if we did something reasonable - like a cooking class! (eh hem, I should also tell you that I really wanted to do a cooking class). It didn't take too much to convince the team, but as the instigator I got stuck with the planning. Oh well, I guess my job is project management.

With 18 people on the team, the planning wasn't the easiest, but somehow I managed to get everyone in line and find a day that worked. We landed at Hipcooks (uh cuz, that's where I wanted to go, and as the planner, I get to make the ultimate decision - score!). The class we ended up taking was Una Noche en España. At first, we were all poo-poo'ing doing tapas, but afterwards we were all singing it's praises. We made all sorts of tasty tapas like...

  • Spicy candied nuts
  • Pure de garbanzo w/ pita toasts
  • Manchego con Membrillo (Spanish cheese with quince paste)
  • Tortilla Española & spicy salad
  • Camarones Bravas - garlicky saffron shrimp
  • Empanadillas Argentinas
  • Flan with caramel designs

My favorite...hmmm, that's tough, but I think maybe the hummus. No, wait, the flan. Ahh! It all turned out great. And we didn't use any recipes - just what our instructor, Jenna, told us, and by tasting as we went.

I was usually the volunteer when nobody wanted to do something - like use your hands to mix the raw eggs with the potatoes for the tortilla ("gross"), or pour the flan mixture into the ramekins ("scary"). And why? Because I have a cooker/baker reputation to uphold at the office. But we all had a hand it the cooking.

After we cooked everything up, we got to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labor. It was glorious.

It was a blast cooking and getting to know my co-workers. Now, I want to host a Spanish Tapas (not topless) party.

Check out all the photos on Flickr.

Deck the Hall Ball Experience

I must be getting old. I can't remember the last concert I went to. Could it have been Vertical Horizon? No way. Ah, maybe it was Franz Ferdinand? That might actually be right. Oh goodness me. It's not like I'm a major concert-goer, but come on. Good thing I remedied that dry spell with Deck the Hall Ball last Tuesday. We went with a few of Josh's co-workers, and got some great seats. The experience was freakin' awesome. Now, I want to go to more concerts - yay!

Don't let the concert name confuse you, it wasn't really a Christmas concert. Just a good time of year to have an awesome concert with a good line-up. It started at like 3pm, and considering it was a work day, I only saw the last four bands. However, the last four were probably the best. There was:

  • Young the Giant - I actually have what I believe is their first album, Young the Giant. I decided to buy it since I really liked the song, My Body. Then I learned I liked others like Cough Syrup and I Got. It's pretty easy-on-the-ears music and one can sway to well.
  • Cage the Elephant - To me, this is pretty hard rock. But I enjoy Ain't No Rest for the Wicked, Shake Me Down, and Come a Little Closer. Oh, and I just learned I like other songs like Cigarette Daydreams and Take It or Leave It.
  • Weezer - I loved it; their act was so hipster and geeky. It was exactly what I thought. Fun fact: My phone ring is to Island in the Sun. I usually answer at the "hip hip" part. Gosh, so many fun songs. Favorites include Island in the Sun, Undone, Buddy Holly, Troublemaker, and Beverly Hills.
  • Imagine Dragons - They were the final act and the band I looked forward to the most. They did not disappoint. I sang along, bobbed my head, and maybe even raise my arms and yelled out at some part. Dudes, they rocked it. I think they played every song on their Night Visions album, which I own. The last song played was Radioactive and it blew me away. They put on a great show! 

Radioactive, Imagine Dragons

I'm sure by now you're feeling a bit left out. Well, here's a quick glimpse into some of the concert:

Wasn't that fun? Sing with me now....