Christmas 2018 Snapshots

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

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

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

A Most Wonderful Year: Merry Christmas 2018

Dear Family and Friends,

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

Baby Wesley

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

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

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

Caleb

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

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

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

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

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

Asha 

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

Trips & Visitors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work

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

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

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

Joy & Good Tidings,

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

Welcome Little Wesley

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

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

The Birth

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

Big Brother Caleb Meets Wesley

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

Coming Home and First Outings

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

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

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

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

One Week Old

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

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

Love you to you all!

Look Back: Visiting O'Neill Grandparents in August

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

Look Back: Kauai in September with the Browns

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


Our 2018 Kauai Trip (…mostly in pictures)

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

Beach Time

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

The Train at Gaylord's at Kilohana

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

Grand Hyatt Hotel

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

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

Kilauea Lighthouse

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

Family Times

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

Dining

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

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

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

Chicago Trip Snapshots

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

Uncle Chuck & Aunt Sue

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

Wedding and Rehearsal

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

O'Neill Family BBQ

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

Morning with Zerth Cousins

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

Chicago Navy Pier

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

First Train Rides and More Downtown Chicago

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

Flight and Downers Grove

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

Soon to be Four

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

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

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.

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

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!

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!!!

Six Years of Marriage

Let's count...

one year.

two years.

three years.

four years.

five years.

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

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

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

Our Aloha Vacation

Aloha! 

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

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

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

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

Fun times with Grandma Nada and Grandpa Don

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

Afternoon at Molaa Beach

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

Caleb discovers coconuts at Molaa Beach

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

Hanalei Pier

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

Caleb loves the Beach

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

Caleb and the Boogie Board

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

Visiting the Kauai Coffee Company

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

Cool Art in Kapaa

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

Kauai food experiences 

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

Heather & Josh go on some date nights!

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

Kauai spirit

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

Beautiful Kauai

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

Cool and Goofy

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

Traveling with a Tot

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

Aloha!

Home Sweet Home for One Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...that it is ours. 

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

Cheers to many more years! 

Caleb enjoying freshly picked blueberries from the backyard.

70th Celebrations and SD Sunshine

Ahh, sunny San Diego. Look at that: the sun, the ocean, the palm trees...but most importantly it's where my parents live. If you didn't know already, I grew up in Encinitas, CA and still get to visit since my parents live in San Marcos. Last week we headed down to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday. We had a great time and I especially appreciate the extra help with the little guy. 

Of course we went to the beach, but the main event was the birthday party. You don't turn 70 years old everyday (well, you could say that about any age, but you get the point).

I had the honor of making the German Chocolate Cake this year. My dad requests it every year for his birthday. It was a Grandma Ruth speciality. Shed used to make it for him every year (and every time she came out to visit), but now it's up to my sister, mom, and/or me to make the cake. Everyone seemed to like it, so I think I did a pretty good job. It's a lot to live up to with it being "mom's cake" (or in my case, "grandma's cake").

The big party was on Saturday night. We got the outdoor patio at Bentley's to ourselves and all our family friends came to celebrate...and drink wine. We got to tell fun stories about my dad like how he loves to listen to the cockpit when on flights or take notes when he reads. My dad is pretty awesome and I so glad we got to have such a great party for him.

With my dad, there was wine. Definitely wine. It wouldn't be my dad's party without wine. And prime rib. I have to say the wine was excellent. The wine was some of the finest I've ever tasted. I'm happy to say I like wine now, too. Somewhere between being pregnant and having a kid, I developed a taste for red wine. The three wines served were Keever, Altamura, and 7&8. If you ever get a chance to taste one, do it.

It was so wonderful to see my parents with Caleb. You can see the love! Caleb will run up and give them big hugs. I love it! Of course, they spoiled him (exhibit A: see my dad eating cookies and ice cream with Caleb). It's so great to see them together.

When you visit home (yup, I still call it home. I call Tacoma home as well. So I have two homes), there is always a crowd. We saw all our friends and Aunt Lindsay and Damon came down to visit, too. Monkey and Max, our friend's dogs, even stayed with us a couple of days.

Daddy (Josh) also got to spend some good, quality time with Caleb.

No, they didn't really ride the motorcycle. 

I think Caleb's favorite part of the trip, though, was this Little Tikes car. It's an understatement to say he loved it. I think it's a blessing and a curse - good he loves it and keeps him preoccupied, but he doesn't want to stop playing. But when you see the joy on his face, you know it's a blessing. ;) 

Caleb got his first taste of the Pacific Ocean. He's been before, but only in a carrier. This time he walked up to the water on his own...and then fell. Watch the video, it's hilarious. There was lots of time at the park, in the sand, or roaming around Caleb-style. 

Unfortunately, I got a sinus infection while we were down there. I got some delicious pho, so that helped. And we had to get Lofty Coffee because I love it. Plus, the food is killer. The salted caramel latte, ahhhh so good. The eggs so freaking good. I die in food happiness.

We also went to Bellows for an early birthday dinner for me. I had a cauliflower steak, which was surprisingly super delicious. 

And when in SD, you gotta get Mexican food. We got some delicious tacos at Oscars Mexican Seafood.

Everything nom nom nom.

And to get there involved some flying. Caleb and I went down early, so we flew on our own. It was exhausting, but we did it. He wanted to do all the things he's not supposed to, and when I stopped him from doing them we got a bit of a tantrum. Blueberries helped for maybe five minutes...it's the small things. 

Luckily, Josh was with for the return flight. Still exhausting, but the help was nice. He was in a better mood, but it's non-stop wiggling the whole flight. And he was tired, so in normal toddler fashion he thought the best time to nap was when we landed in SeaTac. Figures.

Oh, and we survived our first flight delay. It wasn't too bad, maybe even for the best, because it gave us time to eat breakfast and stretch our legs. You can see Josh entertaining Caleb with the McDonald's neon sign. 

I love getting to visit SD and my parents. Can't wait until our next trip (except for the flight part, that's not something I really look forward to, hehe).

A Lovely Mother's Day

I sometimes just can't believe I am a mother. It's just so amazing to look at Caleb and know he's my son. He is the light of my life and brings me such joy. Being a mother has been the hardest, but most rewarding thing in my life. Caleb brings a whole new, wonderful layer to our lives. I love being a family! I feel so honored to be part of the motherhood club.  

I am so grateful for the beautiful, strong, caring mothers in my life. The most important being my mother and my mother-in-law. They have taught me so much about being a good mother. I love them so much.

This was my second mother's day and it was so awesome. Josh and Caleb did a super job at treating me like a queen. I woke up with a little Caleb lying on top of me and giving me a great big, tight hug. Oh, the love and joy! Then we got a lovely breakfast at Jewel Box, which of course included coffee. And I enjoyed one of my favorite things, crepes! 

We went to church and they gave all the mothers a rose and pink donut. Yay!

We finished the day with a trip to the mall where I picked out my new mom bag, which was Josh's gift to me. I love it and feel so stylish. Much lighter then the diaper bag. More yays!

To finish the day, we did a family walk around the neighborhood and lucked up with some sunshine. It was fun to see Caleb on the walk - so much excitement over rocks and flowers (although it takes 45 minutes to go 4-5 blocks, haha). 

This mama didn't have to cook dinner, but we picked up some delicious Thai food. It was such an great day. 

Happy Mother's Day!!