Blog Maternity Leave

Blog Maternity Leave

Hey there! Remember my big news? Well, Baby boy is still not here. I’m in utter shock. Every day since mid-November, I’ve been expecting his arrival. His older brother came just over two weeks early and for this pregnancy everyone seemed to think this little guy would follow suit. However, it appears he had his own ideas. Maybe this means he’s more laid back? Ha!

One way or another he’ll be joining us soon as I’m nearing 41 weeks! That said, I’ll be a little tied up with newborns and toddlers and not on my blog here as much. I promise to return! I’ll probably post some fun things on Instagram and Facebook in the meantime.

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My 2018 Holiday Bucket List

My 2018 Holiday Bucket List

Can you believe it? Thanksgiving has past and December is here in just a few days. We’re already starting to get into the Christmas spirit. The music has definitely started and will continue until Christmas day! Even though I’m super pregnant right now and excepting a baby any day, I still want to do all things Christmas, so I decided to put together a Holiday Bucket list. Do you want to join me in making one? Then I thought this PDF from Rochester MN Moms Blog was a cute template to make the bucket list festive and printable.

Here’s my Holiday Bucket List…

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Thanksgiving Favorites

Thanksgiving Favorites

Usually I’m all about planning out a Thanksgiving feast. I research new recipes, I make a plan on when I’ll start each dish, figure out what I can make ahead…you know a game plan. However, this year I’m trying to take it easy since little baby might come anytime. Plus, standing and cooking in the kitchen for a lengthy amount of time just sounds like a backache, literally. I feel a bit like I am giving in, but I know it’s the right thing to do. Being 38 weeks pregnant for Thanksgiving is a bummer, man.

To take it easier, we decided to order a small pre-cooked turkey from Whole Foods this year. I was actually impressed that the price wasn’t as terrible as I anticipated given a raw turkey plus all the brining and cooking ingredients would come out not that far off…not to mention the price of your time and labor. Hopefully it’s delicious!

Another shortcut this year is on dessert. Our realtor, Harber Home Group, offers a free apple pie every to his past customers every year. This year we’re taking them up on it. It pains me not to make dessert. Baking is one of my favorites. If we get the pie and it’s not up to snuff, then I’m hunkering down and baking something (see below: Dessert).

I already make the stuffing and froze it, so all I need to do is defrost it. Then, I’ll make a simple side the day-off and there we have our feast. It’s just Josh, Caleb, and me so it doesn’t have to be a huge meal. Just a nice way to celebrate together and eat some delicious food.

Maybe you’re reading all this and saying, “man, I’m totally down for a huge feast with all the homemade fixings.” Power to you! I would reply telling you to check out this game plan I wrote a couple years ago . Also, How Sweet Eats timeline or the Faux Martha Cooking Schedule have some organized schedules for you.

Or, maybe you want to know some of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes. You can pick and chose if you want to make any of them. YES! I love sharing, let’s do this.

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Uber-Fast Weeknight Meals

Uber-Fast Weeknight Meals

As my due date approaches, I get more and more nervous about how my meal planning will change. Right now, I usually cook dinner during Caleb’s nap. But will that still be possible once the baby arrives? Perhaps for a little while. However, I also know I’ll be exhausted and not wanting to cook much. I tent to push myself too far and cook meals that take too long and/or are more complex when I know I should be relaxing more…or at least that’s what my hubby tells me. But, I love cooking and coming up with delicious new meals - and I tend to frown upon pre-made things since I feel they aren’t as good for you (ugh, I hate that I wrote that, but it’s true - it just sounds so hoity toity. Goodness, I hope I’m not really hoity toity!).

On top of that, I’m terrible at taking it easy. I go-go-go until I drop. Oh sure, it’s productive, but by the end of the day I’m just plain pooped. Sooo, I’ve been trying to think up ideas of healthy, yet tasty meals. I thought you might be interested in what I’ve come up with so far.

For starters, I created a new Pinterest board titled, “Dinner: Uber Quick & Easy” (<— click the link to get to the Pinterest board). I’ve been saving some tasty looking meals to it. The Trader Joe’s hacks intrigue me. The one that grabs my attention the most is the Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Spicy Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms. I will definitely be making a trip to Trader Joe’s and stocking up on some items for when baby arrives.

Anyway, you should peruse my board. if you have any suggestions, please share! Now, for the ideas I’ve come up with so far on my own:

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Toddler Halloween Snacks: Pumpkin Oranges and Mummy Muffins

Toddler Halloween Snacks: Pumpkin Oranges and Mummy Muffins

This is super last minute since tomorrow is Halloween, but these two snack ideas are so cute. I whipped them both up yesterday, so I think you can still manage to make one or both of them yourself in time for Halloween.

I made these especially for Caleb’s preschool class. It just so happened that I was assigned to bring snacks (we bring a snack about once a month) the day before Halloween. Since they don’t have school on Wednesdays, I knew today was the day to do something fun for Halloween. And that’s how we ended up with these snacks. Yay!

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The Pod Works: Calling all Working Moms

The Pod Works: Calling all Working Moms

I feel sheepish at how long it’s taken me to write this post. My pictures are from April, May, and June if that gives you any indication on how long it’s been. Yes, I say “I’ve been meaning to write” comment a lot, as in every post, but life is busy. Are you with me? Now, let’s get down to it and chat about The Pod Works. I’m super excited to be sharing this unique place with you.

What is it?

The Pod Works is a co-working space for moms. For instance, if you own a small business or work remotely, you could use The Pod Works as a space to do your work. You bring your laptop, mobile phone, and anything else along with you to do some work done. I have worked from home in the past, and it can be hard to be productive at home, so find a place outside the house can be very beneficial. What’s so cool about The Pod Works is that they have a great setup for working moms. You can bring your kid(s) along with you and still get some work done. There is a play space with all sorts of toys for kids and then you can find a separately space to hunker down and get some real work done.

What’s even cooler is that you can meet other working moms and even network and collaborate. Perhaps you’ll be working there one day and another mom comes along to work. You start talking and realize you could both benefit from each other’s services or product. Boom, connection made. The Pod Works has what they call The Pod Collective, which is there to support your business with workshops, outings, and a community of moms.

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Visiting Kauai with a Toddler

Visiting Kauai with a Toddler

Honestly, I had planned to write to you guys while I was on vacation. But then it just didn’t happen. Then we got home and all had to get our first colds of the season. Please forgive my absence. I’m here for you now and ready to share some fun things about Kauai.

We tend to think of Kauai as our place. Yup, just for us. I know that’s not true, but it’s been a perfect vacation destination for us over the years.

  • First Trip: My first time there was way back in 2006 and I went with my back-then-boyfriend-now-husband. We were with my boyfriend’s parents who happened to have a house there. It was also on this trip, that my boyfriend decided he wanted to marry me (by the by, the proposal didn’t happen until 2008 - sheesh, what took so long?).

  • Second Trip: We went for our honeymoon in 2011. It was perfection. (ah, no in-laws on this trip)

  • Third Trip: We took Caleb in 2017 and stayed with my in-laws (they had since sold the house, sad) who were renting a condo there for the month.

  • Fourth Trip: This was our latest trip, so 2018. Again, we stayed with my in-laws who are living there for a year. This time I was pregnant with baby boy #2.

As you can see, it’s a special place for the Brown family! Given, I’ve gone so much, I want to share some of our joyful places from the island with you. I’m going to keep it kid-centric since that’s what I’m all about on this blog. Talk to me if you want no kid recommendations.

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LOL: Lots of Links - Volume 4

LOL: Lots of Links - Volume 4

Well friends, I’m officially in my third trimester. I’m not entirely sure how that happened. The last I checked we were still in August. But apparently it’s almost October now. My mind is now all things baby - and more like, “ahhhhhh, so much to get done before the baby arrives.” I’m sure it’ll all work out, but I’m determined not be packing a hospital bag and putting in the car seat at the first signs of labor. Eh hem, not like that’s happened before or anything. Noooo way.

Since baby is where my mind is at these days, I’m dedicating this LOL volume to just that: baby.

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Indoor Fun: Pump It Up

Indoor Fun: Pump It Up

I feel like the closer I get to my due date with baby #2, the harder it is to get posts written. Life has been busy to say the least especially with an active two and a half year old son. During the daytime, I’m busy keeping him entertained. During nap time and evenings, I’m busy keeping things running at home and preparing for the baby…oh yeah, and some relaxing and sleeping.

That said, here I am! And I today is about a new indoor play space. I’ve been meaning to check out Pump It Up for a long time and I finally got there on Wednesday. Sometimes I get stuck into my routine or set places, and I also get a bit of anxiety when I don’t know anyone that’s gone or know what it’s like. But I gathered up my mama courage and headed over there in hopes of getting some Caleb wiggles out. And my hopes came true: wiggles were definitely gotten out. Caleb LOVED it. I thought he might be more timid, but he dived right into the fun (quite literally).

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Fashion Tips from an Everyday Mom

Fashion Tips from an Everyday Mom

I did a little poll not too long ago to see what you, my lovely blog followers, would be interested in reading. One of my mom friends mentioned she wanted to hear how I maintain my makeup and keep up my style with a young child. My immediate reaction to myself was, "Me, really...for fashion advice?" I never really thought of myself as stylish and definitely not whom someone would think of to ask for fashion advice. (thank you, friend, you give me confidence!)

When I think of myself and fashion, all I can think of was how I was the girl in high school wearing vests and oversized sweatshirts. Although, as an adult looking back now, who actually was totally confident and cool as a teenager? And weren't we all wearing scrunchies?

Perhaps in college, I was slightly improved. Heck, I snagged my husband while there somehow. But, I don't think I really caught on to what fits and looks good on me until some years after college.

One of my best fashion experiences came when I moved to Seattle and got a new job in online marketing. I was in desperate need of clothes to fit the job. I decided to try the Nordstrom Personal Stylist. To say it was life-changing is maybe giving it too much credit, but it was a eye-opener. The stylist really helped me understand what would look good on me and to put some outfits together.

I'm still not going to say I'm uber stylish, but at least I look decent. I feel kind of awkward writing this post, like an imposer, as if I'm some sort of expert on the manner. I am DEFINITELY NOT an expert or really even that stylish. But, ask and you shall receive, my friends. So, I'll stop jabbering on about myself and share some things that I do to keep Stacy and Clinton away (please tell me you know them...hint: What Not to Wear).

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End of Summer Festivals, Fairs, and Fun Events

End of Summer Festivals, Fairs, and Fun Events

I love going out and doing things, especially on the weekends with my family. The "events" on FaceBook are both wonderful and terrible for me because I want to do all the things. Prior to having my son, my hubby and I used to do a lot more outings. Now, we have to work outings around nap time, crankiness, potty training, meal time, and every other baby/toddler thing. Additionally, we have to consider if it's kid-friendly and whether it'll be easy to keep him out of trouble. Sometimes something might be more effort than it's worth, so we have to pick our outings wisely. For instance, we don't do the outdoor concerts. It sounds idyllic: sit on a picnic blanket with some snacks and listen to the band while your toddler dances next to you. However, the reality is I would be running around all the other picnickers chasing my son whom once caught will scream and kick. I'm sure you can picture it, or maybe even experienced it. Power to you if your child isn't a "runner" - enjoy it. I get my daily exercise just chasing him. 

Anyway, overall I do love the events on FaceBook. I have my FaceBook doubts and dislikes, but the events are great. It's fun to see what my friends are interested in (maybe we can go together?!) and I find out about events that I normally would never have known about. It's hard to keep up with things when you have a toddler. 

Where are this magical events on FaceBook? On the main FaceBook page, look to the left navigation. Under "Explore" you should see the "Events" link. Cool, right?

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The Diaper Backpack, aka Best Mom Bag

The Diaper Backpack, aka Best Mom Bag

When I became a mom, I was excited about getting a diaper bag. They make some pretty cute ones these days. Carrying a diaper bag around town is like a badge of honor showing you're a mom. Then I became a mom and realized what a hassle carrying one around can be. There is so much stuff to put in there so it's heavy and bulky. Then your shoulder starts to hurt, and because you wanted a cute one your husband is not a fan of carrying it for you. But, he'll definitely hand you stuff to put in it as well because of that's what you do. 

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Checking it Out: Brewers Row

Checking it Out: Brewers Row

The motivation for my Red Elm and the Antique Sandwich Co. reviews was that they were known in my "mom circles" as places for kids. Brewer's Row, however, isn't widely talked about as a place for kids. However, my experience there with my son, Caleb, have been great. It's casual and fast which make for a fun place to grab a bite to eat if you have little ones. Let's taco (I mean talk) about it. 

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Tacoma Take-Out Favorites

Tacoma Take-Out Favorites

Before having Caleb, Josh and I loved to dine out. Not always fancy, but just for some good grub on the weekends. I guess you could call us foodies. I really do enjoy cooking and baking at home, but I also really enjoy eating out. It is a nice break from the kitchen, it's fun to eat delicious foods (especially things you can't/don't make at home), and it can often inspire your inner chef. A good mix of eating out and eating in would be our style...pre-kids. 

However, now that we have a kid, eating out is way, way, way less frequent. It's hard to work it in with naps and bedtime and can be tough to keep the kiddo entertained and quiet while you eat. I often find myself overly involved with the kid and not really paying attention to what I am eating. This sort of defeats the purpose for me in some ways. I like to savor and enjoy my food. We could take turns, Josh and I, with one managing Caleb while the other chows down; however, then you're not really eating together.  

We still attempted to keep our eating out style while Caleb was a baby, and it worked until he was about five months old, then it just stopped working. He stopped sleeping on-to-go as much and eating out became a challenge. We had to adjust our eating out lifestyle. So, we turned to take-out. I cook all week, so our little treat is to get take-out Friday and/or Saturday. We put Caleb down for bed, and then we enjoy our take-out meal together. Not quite the same, but still enjoyable. 

Top 11 (why stop at 10?) Tacoma Take-out Restaurants…

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Summer Sales! Nordstrom Anniversary

Summer Sales! Nordstrom Anniversary

Another sale! If you didn't have much luck with Amazon Prime Day, then this one is for you. Every year Nordstroms has its Anniversary Sale. Many of the items on sale are for the fall, but you can find some summer stuff in the mix as well. From July 12th to 19th the sale was limited to cardholds, but as of Friday, July 20th the sale runs for everyone. The sale ends and prices go back up August 5th, but things do sell out so act quickly on the popular items!

I already bought the DockATot and anticipating buying something else for myself...but which to pick! If I had all the money in the world, these are the things I would probably purchase. 

What do you have your eye on? 

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Summer Sales! Amazon Prime Sale

Summer Sales! Amazon Prime Sale

I'm a sucker for sales. If I have two shirts in front of me and one is on sale but I like the full-priced shirt better, I feel this odd compulsion to buy the one on sale even when I prefer the other shirt. My logical side knows I should get the one I like best because I'll likely wear it more and get more use out of it. However, the other one is on sale. Then you go through a, "I should just buy both" moment. Then my budget minds reminds me that's a bad idea. 

Sales almost get me anxious and I get some serious FOMO. Is this weird? If I don't buy something, I'm missing out on the greatest deal of my lifetime. Sigh. Life is tough. 

There are two sales happening right now: Amazon Prime and Nordstrom Anniversary. I'm separating them out into two posts since the Amazon Prime Sale is happening right now whereas Nordstrom Anniversary still has some time. 

The Amazon Prime Sale goes from today through Wednesday night.

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Stitch Fix Maternity Box Cuteness

Stitch Fix Maternity Box Cuteness

Fashion, turn to the left
Fashion, turn to the right
Ooh fashion

Does a word ever trigger a song in your head? Well, I often find this happening. And I'm singing the above lyrics to myself. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then check out this David Bowie's Fashion song. The only funny thing is that I only know these three phrases of the song, so those just repeat in my head. Anyhoo....

I want to talk a little bit about fashion with you guys today. I'm by no means a fashionista, and it's for this reason I often find myself seeking help from others who I think are more fashionable. In this case, it's the folks at Stitch Fix

I've gotten Stitch Fix boxes before - probably about six or seven boxes total. My first box was all the way back in April 2014. The first few boxes I received were great, but then I started to see a decline. I think they got popular, and grew too fast, and may have lost some quality control. However, I think it might be back under control since the past two boxes have been better. And more interestingly, the best boxes I've received have been maternity. 

You probably saw my exciting news about a new member of our family that's on his way. I'm currently 19 weeks along and the bump is starting to show. I've been pulling out my maternity wear from last pregnancy, but I needed a few more summery pieces. Maternity clothes that are both cute and affordable can be tough to find, and all stores seem only to sell maternity online these days. I was happy with my previous Stitch Fix maternity box, so I thought I'd give it a whirl again.  

Good news: I was happy with this maternity box as well. Woohoo! 

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Screaming for Ice Cream: Tacoma Ice Cream & Froyo

Screaming for Ice Cream: Tacoma Ice Cream & Froyo

Hey Summer! Welcome to Tacoma! We're happy you're here. Although I have to admit, even if it's not summer, I still eat my ice cream and frozen yogurt (aka froyo). I just eat more of it! It's no joke that I have been nicknamed, "the Froyo Queen" by friends. I can't help it, I love the stuff. 

Whether for good or bad, Caleb has also picked up on my love for frozen goodness. A fine example is how he ate just the strip of ice cream out of the ice cream birthday cake at a friend's birthday the other weekend. While the sugar high aftermath can be crazy, I do enjoy sharing a treat with my little guy. 

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Birthday Parties and Where to Have Them

Birthday Parties and Where to Have Them

June is my birthday month and it got me thinking about birthdays. In some ways, I wish my son's birthday was in the summer since you could bring the party outdoors. His birthday is at the beginning of January and outdoors is just not an option. I spent a lot of time trying to find a place to have his 2nd birthday party. I didn't want it at the house since I just had family over for all the holidays. Having more people in the house and more cleaning just didn't sound like something I wanted to do. So I surfed the internet and racked my brain to come up with some alternatives. We ended up at the Children's Museum of Tacoma. It was great fun!

However, summer birthday friends, I got your back. June birthdays can be hit or miss with the weather. Summer really doesn't seem to hit the Pacific Northwest until July 4th. Yes, that specific. Then in the summer months, it can be uber hot and practically none of us have air conditioning. So, I hear you when you say I don't want it at the house. Or maybe, you'd just like to avoid toddlers destroying every square inch in your house. I get it. This list is also for you.

In fact, this birthday list an everyone and any time of year list of places to have a kid's birthday in and around the Tacoma area. It's indoor and outdoor places. It's places with packages or just places to go. It's for young kids and for older kids. I'm sure there is more out there. I tried to stick mostly to Tacoma although admittedly there are a few outliers (like Gig Harbor and Puyallup). Please comment if you have even more and better ideas! 

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