Russian River

We recently spent an extended weekend at the Russian River with my family, staying at an airbnb nestled in the trees. Overall the weekend wasn’t the sunshine and river splashes I think we were all expecting, but it was still a nice retreat away from the everyday.

Mike, Cam, and I were the first to arrive and, after unloading our car, we explored the house. There was an eccentric vibe that isn’t my flavor (real question: how many pinecone decorations are too many?) but fine for a getaway. Besides, there was a hot tub and a pretty epic patio that made you feel like you were in a treehouse, so I can’t complain.

…Speaking of said patio. While we were waiting for the rest of the fam to arrive, Mike and I poured 2 glasses of wine and had a dance party outside with Cam. It was so fun and now I am convinced every vacation needs to start with wine and a dance party. Whose with me!?

After everyone arrived and we navigated the bustle of unpacking, we put Cam to sleep. Somehow I remembered to buy another white noise machine (a much cheaper and more low key than the one we have now in Cam’s room) and it was a savior. For $20 we didn’t have to be too psycho about people making noise while hw was sleeping (all parents with young kids know what I am talking about rn).

We decided that although we were on vacation, we wouldn’t be eating out on our trip. I am thankful that everyone in our family who can be vaccinated is – so we can see each other safely to that extent. But because of the variant, it isn’t worth the risk of being seated next to someone who isn’t vaccinated. This meant a huge Costco haul to stock up on nomz and an easy, meaty, cheesy Kirkland lasagna for dinner that first night. Then it was time to hit that hot tub and fully kick into vacation mode.

Before bed we started The Ice Road, Liam Neeson’s new movie on Netflix, which took us 3(!) nights to actually finish (but was so, so worth it).

We woke up the next morning and I was like: coffee please. Despite not eating out, a quick in and out trip at a local coffee shop was something we all felt comfortable with. With one key requirement: masks!

“Vaccines are safe!” “Wear a mask!” I must have lost at least a few folks by now… I’m not trying to be overly political here but obviously feel strongly about people protecting other people from covid. Which brings me to my story that, the first coffee shop that we went to – which was organic and looked AMAZING – had a sign posted saying they believed masks and vaccines are a personal choice. Ummmmmmmmmmm…?

Listen. The vaccine thing? I can see where it is scary. I’m fully vaccinated but I get that it is a bigger deal to some people. WEARING A MASK THOUGH?! C’mon. It is like the simplest thing to ask of each other. Ugh. As you can imagine, we made the personal choice to pass on that coffee shop and “vote with our dollars” at a place that supports safety, science, and public health.

One of the appeals of staying on the Russian River during this crazy time was having a built in outdoor activity in close proximity; the river. Our airbnb offered kayaks, floats, and a wagon to enjoy the beach and water. Leading up to this vacation, I was excited at the prospect of lounging by the river and kayaking down it. Sadly it turned out to be a pretty cold few days up there, so being outside near the water wasn’t too appealing. But, even more of a disappointment was the rocky beach near us. On the house listing there were pictures of this gorgeous sandy beach; a beach perfect for Cam to play in. In reality the beach we had access to was rocky and hilly. Not great for a little one. I contacted our host and she mentioned if we walked out more, the sandy beach typically would have been there but given the drought, the river was damned and that spot unavailable. Waaaaahhh. 😦

Not having access to the beach we thought we would – coupled with colder than expected weather – did make the vacation feel a bit reminiscent of 2020 Shelter in Place days. Although we tried to make the best of it by going for a lot of family walks around the neighborhood, taking full advantage of having grandparents around to watch Cam while Mike and I went hot tubbing, and hanging out on the patio. I was even able to sneak in a yoga session one morning out there on our treehouse patio.

On our last day the weather finally warmed up a bit. We all decided to attempt for an afternoon at the beach, despite the rocky ground. We loaded the wagon with blankets and a mega umbrella. I had the diaper bag and waters and snacks. And we lasted about 15 minutes down there. Ha. Cam wasn’t feeling it at all so my mom and grandma took him back to the house while Mike and I, determined to kayak at least once, hit the river!

While I’m typing this, I realize this was the first activity Mike and I have done alone since Cam was born / the pandemic. (What a doozy of a combo, huh?) It was such a blast being out there together. Particularly this shallow section we paddled through that was close enough to the overgrown trees and plants that we felt like we were on the Jungle Cruise (foreshadow).

We ordered pizza, made a salad, and opened a bottle of wine on our last night there; which is the ultimate vacation bookend if you ask me. After finally finishing The Ice Road, we splurged and “unlocked” Jungle Cruise on Disney Plus. I love love love love Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson – ever since his people elbow days, okayyy? – and Emily Blunt is also just great, so I was really excited about this. (Also, maybe like a lot of people after pausing “normal” life for sometime now, I am craving going to Disneyland again and somehow this filled that void a tiny bit.) Obviously no spoilers but I do recommend!

Our last morning there was a flurry of family photos All Together, packing, and cleaning. I will say the one downside to an airbnb is you often have to do chores at the end of your stay. We all hugged and kissed goodbye and hit the road back home. ❤


PS. If you’re feeling up to it, read about our other family vacations to San Diego and Solvang

vegan black bean taquitos

If you have an air fryer, make these.

That’s it. It’s that simple. You need them in your life.

With only 4 ingredients, I was surprised at what a complete showstopper they turned out to be. Although I am almost certain the real magic had more to do with the air fryer than the ingredient list… Anyways!


Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup black beans
  • 3/4 cup cheese (we used a vegan cashew cheddar but go for the real thing if you fancy)
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
  • 6 flour tortillas*
  • optional garnish: Guac, cilantro, lime

Directions:

  • Preheat your air fryer to 375**
  • Mash your black beans up in a bowl***
  • Add the cheddar
  • Stir in that salsa
  • Scoop mixture on to tortillas
  • Roll up and place seam side down
  • Air fry for 7 minutes

*I used flour because I find they roll better without breaking but if you want to go corn, I suggest oiling them first to soften a bit

**We have the Breville toaster oven and air fryer and it is the besssst (so I actually don’t know how a stand alone air fryer works… I imagine there is some kind of temperature control though)

***A friend gave us this baby food masher before we had Cam and we use it all of the time for our adult food mashing needs (even if you don’t have a baby, I recommend getting it hahah)

Cam’s first Tahoe retreat ;)

We finally did it! We made it to Olympic Valley near North Lake Tahoe with our little guy.

If you know us, you know the resort there is a special place. We had plans to go last year to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary but they were derailed because of covid. Nevertheless, we made it for our 2 year celebration!

This was Cam’s first road trip and we were nervous about how he’d do in the car for 4+ hours. Amazingly he was a champ!! He skipped his morning nap the day we left which ended working in our favor since we fell asleep literally before we turned off of our street and slept for the next 2 hours. Hallelujah.

When he woke up we were already halfway there. We quickly stopped for some iced teas, a bathroom break, and a diaper change and were on the road again.

Pulling up to the resort was such a relief. One, because we made it there in record time and Cam was great the whole way; and, two, because we were finally baaack and it was so good to be there.

The view from our room

By the time we checked in and unpacked, it was close to Cam’s bedtime. We did our normal routine but realized we forgot a book to read to him before going to sleep (!) cue the now-tradition of buying him a new book wherever we go for a vacation. Which I feel like is the best souvenir for a child anyway.

After, Mike and I ordered a to-go pizza, opened a bottle of wine, and …worked! Hah. Not the most romantic start to our vacation but we had to tie up a few things before putting up our OOOs for the following Monday and Tuesday.

The next morning Mike woke up early to hit the pool for some laps. He’s done this in the past, and I would join him at a more reasonable time – coffee in hand and ready to hot tub. Of course now that we have little Camaroni, I was up doing the mom thing instead of sleeping in. 🙂 After feeding Cam breakfast and jamming out to some Pat Benatar on the radio (which, side note, we didn’t even know the rooms came with a radio but Cam INSTANTLY found that remote and loved turning it on throughout our stay), we headed down to the pool to join dada.

Sadly the pool’s heater was broken. Happily Cam is the best baby in the history of the world and was fine hanging out on one of our laps so we could (in shifts) enjoy the hot tub. Which is our main hobby. Ask any of our friends.

After some tubbing, we packed up and excitedly DROVE TO MY GRANDPARENTS HOUSE. They only live 45 minutes from where we were staying and haven’t met Cam yet because of – you guessed it – the pandemic. It was so heartwarming for them to finally see him. And for me to finally see them. The last time I saw them was my baby shower in February 2020, right before we knew how much the world was going to change…

We ordered enchiladas and chatted and watched Cam scoot around and it all felt so normal and wonderful.

Cam and his Great Grandma. Yay!

Back at the resort later that afternoon, a very exciting milestone happened. Cam took his first steps!!! Now he is a walking machine and we keep saying he knew to take those first steps in a special place.

We woke up on Sunday with no set plans, aside from another morning hot tub sesh. Then it was all about finding baby/kid friendly things to do. We spent some time outside on a grassy patch with a bunch of games and ran around with Cam. In the past, this area was largely ignored but now I see us frequenting it.

Giant baby-sized Jenga

We made pitstops for naps back in the room. When it was warm enough, we took Cam to the pool. This mostly consisted of Mike holding Cam so only his toes dipped in and me safely (warmly) staying poolside, sitting on the edge instead of actually going in the water. We also went all out for a wayback playback and had drinks in the lobby! This is something Mike and I used to love doing and, since it was between snow and summer seasons there, everything was relatively calm so we felt comfortable with Cam running amok in the lobby while we sipped.

We did the standard take out thing for dinner that night but also had the absolute pleasure of watching Ellen’s gameshow, Ellen’s Game of Games. I had no idea this existed but what.a.gem.

Monday was our 2 year wedding anniversary (!) and I am already ready to renew our vows as an excuse to have a party with all of our loved ones again.

We celebrated with a bike ride and lunch out, both firsts for us since Cam has been born. We rented bikes and a trailer and hit the path to lunch. When in motion, Cam did great in the trailer. But the second we stopped, he was not happy about it. We are hypothesizing that his helmet was just a little too big for him and might have taken more muscle control than he has yet developed to hold that little head up. (One particular bump all but proved this theory correct when, after hitting it, we checked on Cam and he was leaning completely sideways unable to pull himself back up. So sad but so funny.) Nonetheless we made it to lunch and enjoyed a nice meal on the patio.

We wrapped the afternoon with another trip to the pool and a round of drinks in the lobby. And then it was boxed mac n’ cheese and leftover pizza for dinner. Maybe next year Mike and I will go out for a fancy dinner to celebrate our anniversary but even if we don’t, I don’t think I can ever complain about quality time spent with my guys.

On our last morning we grabbed coffee and bagels and headed down to the lake. One of the benefits of waking up early on baby-time is how empty things are. We had the whole lake to ourselves and leisurely strolled along, talking, what if we move here one day…?

We found a little park and pushed Cam in the swings while looking out at Lake Tahoe. It was the perfect way to end a great family vacation. We can’t wait to go back!


Read about the last time we visited here.

Checking in!

For those keeping score, I’m loosing in the battle of consistent blogging this year…

As always, life is busy. A lot of our meals lately have been easy ones that aren’t worth a recipe readout. We’ve also been trying our hand at Blue Aprons, generously gifted to us, so I’m not experimenting much in the kitchen.

We’ve fallen into a nice routine around here and, despite still dealing with covid-19, I’m trying to stay in the moment and really appreciate every day. A sliver lining of the pandemic that I’ve mentioned time and time again is all of the extra time we get to spend with Cam. While we don’t have any immediate plans to send him to daycare, I know eventually he will go and I’ll be missing the days where I could sneak a cuddle in between meetings.

Extra time with my mom, who helps us watch Cam 3x/week, has also been a highlight. Right now, our weeks look like this:

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, my mom comes down from 10am – 4pm to be with Cam. Mike takes the morning shift from 7:30am – 9am, while I work; and Cam usually naps from 9am – 10am. We all break for lunch together around 12pm and it is a flurry of dishes and stealing bites of food between Cam wanting one of us to practice walking with him (a back-breaking task that Mike bears the brunt of). Around 4pm I shut my laptop and go for a walk with Cam. This is one of my favorite parts of the day. It is a nice way to decompress from working and, since we’ve adjusted Cam’s seat to face outwards, he loves looking at cars, people, and dogs pass by.

Tuesdays and Fridays are more about survival than feeling accomplished. Mike and I alternate shifts between working and watching Cam. Tuesdays are chaotic and leave us both feeling pretty worn out by the end of the day. Fridays are less crazed because we both work “scattered hours” – me in the morning and Mike in the afternoon – and catch up on emails and to dos after Cam goes to bed. The solid time blocks working or watching Cam means less context shifting throughout the day, which makes it seem more manageable. Plus by this point, we’ve made it to the weekend!

A note that almost every day starts with Cam waking up early and then, after I feed him, snuggling between us in bed and watching a few episodes of Trash Truck while Mike and I try to catch a few more Zzzzs. Some people might be like, screen time (!) for a one year old (!) but I’m like, mama needs more sleep. Besides what is a better way to start the day than baby cuddles?!

A big update is, after weeks of prepping and a tortuous experience with wall papering, Cam moved over to his own room after he turned one! His first few nights were tricky but now he seems to be used to the transition and sleeps well in there. We themed his room Adventure, with an emphasis on mountains (think: I will move mountains) and I loveee it (even with our shoddy wallpaper job).

Even though California is mostly open again, we’re still hesitant about eating out. We have, however, discovered getting take out and sitting on a little grass patch inside a round about is a close second. It’s located near a bunch of restaurants so we have a lot of choices. Plus it almost feels like eating out since we are away from the house and around people; just very distanced and in the middle of a traffic circle…… ha. Honestly though, with a baby, picnics seems soooo much easier than trying to confine Cam to a highchair.

We’re also still loving Sundays at the Farmer’s Market. Often we will grab coffee on the way there and then beeline to a French pastry stand for sweet treats, enjoying them – you guessed it! – picnic style at a big, open, sunshiny field in the same area as the market.

I’ve also started a lovely Sunday tradition of virtual yoga with my friend Lauren. Since the start of the new year, we’ve joined a Google Hangout, rolled out our mats in our respective locations, and flowed to something on Youtube. So far we haven’t missed a single session and I hope we don’t anytime soon. In life before covid, I doubt we would have lasted this long – likely getting swept up in other plans. But, with less to do, it hasn’t been hard to get in the habit of making our yoga date every week. It’s just such a nice way to start Sundays and gives us some built in time to catch up every week. Win-win.

We celebrated my 2nd Mother’s Day (!) and I have to say, it is niiice to have another day – besides your birthday – that is all about you. Highlights from my day were sleeping in; coffee and bluebs muffins upon waking up; a family walk; hot tubing and reading (two favorites); and a virtual wine tasting with my mother in law. It was perfect and full of delicious indulgences.

The most exciting bits of news is that Mike and I have both received 2 doses of the covid vaccine now! We’re actually in Tahoe right now, our first time taking a vacation since the pandemic, and it is really nice to get away with the peace of mind that we’re both vaccinated.

Stay tuned for a recap post of our time spent here, celebrating our 2 year wedding anniversary!!

Cam 9 – 12 months

OUR BABY IS A ONE YEAR OLD!

I generally find it hard to believe that a year and some change ago I was preparing for a c-section to meet our little Camaroni.

This post rounds out a year of Cam updates on my blog; his first 365 days documented here every 3 months or so. In a way, these posts have been how people have gotten to know him. They have served a dual purpose: an artifact for us and a close to real-time way for friends and family to read about what Cam is like.

March 2020 will always be a standout month for us. It is the month we became parents. Of course it is also a time that bears significance for the world…

Life is (still) different from what we were used to. And because of that, Cam’s first Christmas was just the 3 of us. I can explain it as wonderfully weird. Weird because we didn’t imagine friends and family being physically absent during Baby’s First Christmas. Wonderful because … it was Baby’s First Christmas! We managed to incorporate a few family traditions while also sampling new tastes for the holiday.

You know we had to get matching jams to sleep and wake up in on 12/25. I remember my sister and I opening new jams on Christmas Eve (matching before it was trendy, mind you) so there were sweet ties to the past doing this with Cam. Mike and I also prepped his mom’s famous Land of Nod bread to bake for breakfast.

In a pandemic plot twist, we were actually able to join a tradition we typically miss. Most years we are in Canada for Christmas and I miss opening presents with my stepdad’s family on Christmas Eve. In 2020 though, everyone was virtual. (I might need the family to set up a computer for me to join from afar in the years to come.:) Cam was spoiled with sweet gifts while Mike and I indulged in a charcuterie.

Christmas charcuterie!!!? Sounds like a new tradition to me.

On Christmas we woke up and opened more gifts, munching on Land of Nod and sipping coffee. Of course this was all before 9am because kids wake up so early! Hah. The next few days were spent cozied up watching Christmas movies (all THREE of The Santa Claus movies in rotation), getting endless Cam cuddles, and generally enjoying the magic of the holidays with a little one.

Excitedly Cam was able to meet his cousins a few days later (!!!) when Mike’s sister and her family had an overnight layover in San Francisco en route to Melbourne. We met them outside and stay distanced at a park near their hotel. What a strange time. Overall we were grateful that we at least got to see them but it was hard when Ella wanted to hold and play with her baby cousin and she couldn’t. How do you really explain what a pandemic is to kids? Waaaah.

Over the holidays, Cam was waking up almost every night around 8pm. What!? Since we didn’t have work the next morning, we broke the Parenting Rules and let him come downstairs to watch movies with us but we knew the habit couldn’t last.

It turns out he had outgrown his early 5pm/5:30pm bedtime and could hang for about an hour longer. Since then he’s stuck to a mostly consistent schedule of waking up between 6am – 7am, taking his first nap 2 hours later (between 8 – 9am) for about an hour and then his second/last nap 3 hours after (between 12pm – 1pm). He goes to sleep for the night 4 hours after he wakes up from his last nap, which is typically around 6pm. I love having him awake for the extra hour because it’s usually the only time all 3 of us spend together (aside from the weekends). It’s actually hard to imagine life pre-pandemic and how long day care/office hours were. If Cam went to day care – like we had planned before covid – I would have dropped him off at 7am and picked him up around 5pm; leaving about one hour to spend with him all day. The positives of the pandemic are very few and far between but spending so much time with Cam is at the top of our list. (I think I write that in all of these updates.)

We had some really nice weather in the early part of the year – even by California standards – and were able to walk to a local park and have a few picnics. Soaking up the sun on a sprawling blanket? Count me in every time. And twice on Sundays when it includes a trip to the Farmer’s Market for pastries (which has become a family favorite).

Cam experienced his first Inauguration Day and, whew, what a slice of history. Obviously he didn’t know what was going on but it was a really emotional day for me. Such hope for his future and our country. God bless!

Around this time, Cam also discovered we have stairs. He LOVES to climb on everything. Mike’s parents (Nannie & Grandpy) got him a kid-sized chair that he scurries up on – smiles huge at us like “look at me being so big and the cutest ever” – and tries to get up on the couch.

Cam has a few party tricks now. My favorite being when we say “YAAAAAY!” he starts aggressively clapping. He takes clapping very seriously and has the look of pure determination in his eyes as he slaps his little baby hands together.

It tickles me that we don’t even call it clapping though… I will literally say to him, “can you do ‘yay?'” and that is his cue.

Ya know how they say you learn what your babies different cries mean? Cam doesn’t really cry that much but he does his “baby grunts” and we (kind of) know what each one means. There is the low, throaty excited grunt. And his quick, almost squawk like I-want-this-grunt. He also sometimes just shouts really loud but closes his eye when he does it. Like he knows, this is going to be real loud and I’m ready for it.

Recently he’s added pounding the floor with both hands and making …gorilla noises? to his lofty hand gestures. Mike and I often join in the pounding which cracks him up, and then, in turn, makes us laugh.

Since we’re still working from home, we decided to unconventionally hang a swing for him in our room. Under other circumstances, it would have gone outside but sometimes when we’re double booked for meetings, we need to put Cam somewhere that he can’t really move from – and that he enjoys so our colleagues don’t hear him cry (or frustrated grunt) while we are trying to present. Luckily Cam loves the swing and it dose the trick every time. He’s joined many Upwork meetings swinging peacefully behind me.

Aside from swings, Cam loves; Trash Truck on Netflix, goat cheese (still), watermelon, pureed soups or food with a bit of spice to them, playing with cars and trains (complete with the “buuurrrrummm” sound), typing on dad’s keyboard, mom’s snuggles and silly antics, being INDEPENDENT, bath time, and going on walks, especially if there is a pitstop at the parks for a ride in the “outside” swings.

Recently, Cam went from his signature army crawl to mastering the regular, on all fours crawl, after lots of practice with my mom. He has started to pull himself up on everything and has done a few seconds of free standing but isn’t quite walking. He likes books but is a speed reader so you have to talk fast.

Cam continues to be a good sleeper, aside from a 6-7 day rebellious stint he played where he would immediately pull himself up to standing the second we put him in his crib and start crying and crying. It seemed to come on out of nowhere and gave me a good scare that my easy sleeper had vanished. Luckily he’s back into his regular good-sleeping grove, more or less. I have a theory that he sleeps way better if we give him a big portion of oatmeal for dinner… Keep the oats in full stock over here!

He’s just the happiest, sweetest little baby and I feel like the luckiest person to be his mom. I love you.

From me, to you; mama

Hi mama,

I’m writing you a love letter, of sorts. Something for you to tuck away and read when you need a reminder of solidarity – weather it be in middle of the night when others are sleeping or almost frantically between sips of coffee in the morning.

What a thrilling time in your life! A time that few other experiences will rival, I’m sure. All of the physical and emotional transformational, juicy stuff that happens over the next few months is incredible. But also – based on my experience, at least – melancholy. I didn’t expect the lingering, passive sadness to be part of the program…

Yes, I knew about baby blues and the influx of hormones dancing around inside of me but adjusting to being a new mom in a pandemic? There wasn’t a medical term that I was aware of for that.

When your littlest love arrives, your life is brand new. You world is colored in never-seen-before hues. Most of the time it is a gorgeous view: a love truer and move divine than ever seen before. But even with that impenetrable love, some days feel never-ending. Little sleep. Mounting stress. All of the oxytocin in the world can’t prepare for the abrupt pivot being a parent brings, particularly during such an isolating time; when family is supposed to be near but, to keep everyone safe, they have to stay far.

Many of us know the mantra, we can do hard things. Which we can. But I found it important to add on to it. We can do hard things and we can do new things. Everything is so damn new, isn’t it? A new little roommate (who might not be a great sleeper). New expectations of visits (through windows instead of huddled close on couches). A new life. A new person. A new world. In my opinion, new is almost more difficult than hard. We can conquer both though. New things. Hard things.

Pandemic or not, parenting is a reckoning and there is no room for righteousness…

Truth be told, I was smug when breastfeeding came easy to me. I wore the Exclusively Breastfed badge with great, inflated honor. After all, breast is best, right? Right… Until your supply takes a dip and your baby has decides breast is best and formula is a no-no. No negotiating. No recall.

I already said it but it bears repeating; there isn’t room for righteousness in parenting. Whatever works for you and your family is best. Remember that. Don’t get caught up in any silly pride game. If I could go back, I would have found a good quality formula from the beginning and introduced it early on; if only for the flexibility it would later allow me. Of course, you will have your own “if I could go back…” tales to share one day soon too. We all do.

Although, ours will be a bit different than others, won’t they? We are still in a pandemic. And I still don’t know if there is a medical term for becoming a mom during a global crisis but it is a particularly interesting time for such a transition…

I am certain this experience is far from how you envisioned it would be. Family and friends can’t come over to visit or help or hug or meet your baby. Confetti can’t be tossed and cupcakes can’t be shared. I’ve learned though, this is no reason to believe you and your baby won’t be celebrated. You will be! It looks very different than what was expected but the love is still overflowing for you. The support is still there, albeit likely virtual and not physical.

We can feel light and joy from miles away. I’m sending it to you right now! Can you feel it? This time is new and hard and exciting and scary. It might feel impossible to stay bright but a perspective that has helped me is to remember that every baby cuddle that is missed with a loved one, is another one that I get to treasure.

The pandemic will eventually end. And the second that it is safe to, I can’t wait to meet your little one and for you to meet mine. We’re in this together; even if we have to be apart.

It’s a new year. We can do new things.

xo


Cam 6 – 9 months

Cam is 9 months old! Christmas is in 5 days! An hour might feel long but, stacked up, they are flying by.

Nine months seems big because he’s now spent as much time “outside” as he did growing inside me. 18 months of knowing this little guy. ♡

Cam has changed so much since my last post. Around 6 months old he started sitting up fully all by himself. I don’t know why but it is sooooo cute to see him sitting up. He seems so small and so big at the same time.

His 2 bottom teeth also officially cut through, which are – you guessed it – adorable! I feel like I am waiting every day for the next ones to come in but nothing more yet.

In early October, we celebrated our first Canadian Thanksgiving with Cam. Since 2013 we’ve gotten together with friends to drink Canadian beer and eat poutine. It’s usually a big event; last year we even told everyone I was pregnant during Canadian Thanksgiving because so many of our friends are in the same place at once. Of course, because of COVID, this year was a much smaller gathering. We only had 2 friends and their little one over so we could all sit outside, far apart. Nonetheless it was still really nice to spend an afternoon with friends.

The other big event in October was obviously baby’s first Halloween! Cam had 4 (!) outfit changes that day to squeeze in all of his cute Halloween wear and his costume. We were able to keep up with another loved tradition this year and had my uncle, aunt, and cousins over for pumpkin carving; which marked our 10th year doing so!! I loveeee traditions and was really glad we were able to keep this one alive. And it was relatively covid friendly being that we all stay outdoors, 6 feet apart, and wore masks. I’m also happy that Cam was able to get in on the action. He loved playing with some of the carving tools.

In a year that has taken a lot from us, Halloween was a really special day. Not only did we get to spend time with my family and keep at least one tradition alive through 2020… but we also created a new (hopefully) lasting tradition with our neighbors. We live in a little tucked away cove and decided as a community to go all out for Halloween. There are only 5 kiddos on the street so we figured why not make it really special for them? Neighbors decorated houses and cars and created the best goodie bags that were all left outside for socially distant pick ups. After trick or treating – which, side note, score for me and Mike since Cam is too young to eat any treats – a bunch of us grabbed camping chairs and sat in a giant circle outside. This was only our 2nd Halloween in this house but I guess no one has really done anything in the past. Well, not anymore! Everyone kept commenting about how much fun the evening was and how we plan to go all out every year. What a sliver (and chocolate?) lining in a hard year – a new festive tradition with neighbors!

Oh and Camden was an avocado; Mike and I? his toast escorts. A fun, simple, (last minute…) family costume.

It’s crazy what a slower pace of life we’re experiencing now. This year has really taught us to savor moments, which is particularly fitting and sweet with a little babe. We started a Sunday ritual of grabbing coffees and going to pick up pastries at our favorite place. With yummy morning treats in hand, we stroll down the still-quiet streets of a downtown area to a section that has been blocked off and scattered with Adirondack chairs.

After disinfecting the chairs, we take Cam out of the stroller, bundle him up in a blanket, and enjoy our breakfast with him snuggled in one of our laps. It’s something that we probably would have taken for granted in life before COVID… but given the time and the limit of things you can safely do outside your house, it’s become something really nice to look forward to doing together.

gimme that monkey bread, dad!

When Cam was about 7 months he decided he was DONE sitting in his bassinet in the stroller. We upgraded him to another seat attachment where he can sit more up right and he loves looking around at the world. He usually takes a morning walk with dad and an afternoon walk with mom, cozied up with blankets and tagalong plush toys.

A bigger development around this time was the 3rd nap drop. Dunnn-dun-DUNNNNN….

Seemingly overnight he wouldn’t fall asleep during his last ~2:30pm nap. “Should we drop it?” Mike and I nervously asked each other. Listen, Cam has never been the best napper – if we get an hour from him, we’re congratulating him (and ourselves) – but to lose a nap altogether, while we are both working full-time from home with him sounded stress inducing. Luckily my mom, who comes down 3x/week to help us, was able to adjust and stay longer on these days. Whew. Truth be told, Cam sometimes has slightly better naps now that he is down to 2 a day. So…. we’re managing. Also, THANKS MOM!

We also discovered that Cam HATES formula. Like don’t even get it near him. My milk supply took a random dip in the beginning of November and, since Cam was over 6 months, we decided to introduce formula to him. LOLOLOLOOOOLLLL If only it were that easy. I had NO idea your baby might not like formula. Nipple confusion? Not taking a bottle? I heard about all of that. But no one told me, “oh hey you know how they say breast is best and not to give your baby anything but it for the first 6 months? well they might not like anything.else. after those 6 months of exclusively being breastfed, soooo, good luck!”

Ugh. Luckily after a hard week where Cam basically starved himself before drinking a sip of formula, my supply made a comeback. We’ve been going pretty steady since – aside from a day or two where it seems low – so I am just hoping we can make it until he is a year, when he can have regular milk.

Which, speaking of dairy, we discovered Cam loves goat cheese! And basically anything else that isn’t baby food. Because of the cooler weather, we’ve been having a lot of soup and Cam will happily slurp down broth while scoffing at baby food. He also LOVES water and drinks out of these cute doggy sip cups our neighbors gave us.

November was my birthday and, to celebrate, we took a Friday off from work and headed to the coast. We hit up a favorite coffee shop in Santa Cruz (are you sensing a theme to what we love to do? Coffee + pastries all day every day) and walked along West Cliff. Ah, what a lovely day it was! The path wasn’t crowded. The weather wasn’t cold. Cam had fun watching the waves crash.

Although one of the funky things about COVID is having to use the restroom while you are out. I knew I would have to pee at some point but didn’t have a game plan for how to do that… LUCKILY we found a public restroom at a beach nearby and arrived right as they were unlocking the doors. We felt safe using it since we were the first ones there. I was also able to feed Cam in the car in a relatively secluded spot, which was nice.

After, we walked a bit more and then headed home via our favorite local BBQ spot to get lunch to eat by the fireplace. Cozy vibes all the way. Oh, and I also got a Biden WIN for my birthday, which was a pretty damn good gift.

For Cam’s 8 month birthday 🙂 we took him to a local park to go down a slide and on the swings for the first time. It doesn’t sound too extravagant of an afternoon but it was good fun for all of us. Cam loved the swing and would kick his little legs like he was walking when we pushed him. And for us, it’s always fun to see your baby try something new!

My favorite little bear!

Thanksgiving was a small affair this year with only our “bubble.” Next year I hope the holidays are closer to what we’re used to them being – big, merry, celebrations with lots of family and friends; packed rooms, hug, and kisses! But until we can safely get to that point, we’re just so thankful to be spending the holidays with our little guy. He is such a happy, mellow, sweet baby.

Cam usually goes to bed very early but we had one night in early December, he squeezed in a late nap and we were able to take him out to see some neighborhood Christmas lights before his pushed-back bedtime. There is something magical about seeing the holidays through your baby’s eyes. I can’t wait to open presents with Cam on Christmas morning!!

I think the biggest thing to happen in the past 3 months is Cam scooting all around now! Just recently he’s picked up major speed and can army crawl across the living room in seconds. He is also a man on a mission when we are Facetiming family and he wants the iPad.

He also loves walking around in his walker and pulling dish towels down from their hanging spots.

He cracks up when I say “give me that baby back baby back baby back riiiib,” and pretend munch on his (baby back) ribs. Or if I say “give me that TURKEY THIGH!” and nibble his thigh. And it should be noted that I do all of this in the most animated, outrageous voices. What is it about babies that makes us all so magnificently weird?

I love signing to him the theme song to Somebody Feed Phil, one of my favorite shows, and curling up with him on his play mat while he explores toys and books. He is quick with the touch and feel reads, and knows where all of the textured things are – his tiny fingers quickly grabbing at them as we turn the pages. Daddy’s keyboard is another favorite, where he sits in Mike’s lap and types on a saved notepad reserved for him. So far he’s pasted in some actual code that Mike had copied to the clipboard and has spelled out a few words (all on accident, of course).

Cam is slow to smile for strangers but warms up and gives a cheeky little grin eventually. He seems particularly smitten with his aunt Wendy and always reserves a big smile for her when he sees her while video chatting. He loves his Go Go (my mom) and snuggles into her at the start of their days together.

Cam also likes to “wrestle” and we spend a lot of time on the couch or on our bed with him trying to attack/basically eat my face and me laughing/yelling/trying to escape those little jaws. He’s a belly sleeper. Most mornings we wake up to his fists cupped tightly around his crib like he is trying to break free, which makes me laugh.

He opens his mouth wide right when he sees his toothbrush or a syringe of Tylenol, if he is teething. He loves baths. He doesn’t like like getting dressed after them, though. Sometimes he thinks sneezes are funny. He always likes a good game of peak-a-boo but requires full commitment. No hiding behind your hands. You have to make a real effort and duck down behind something or it just isn’t fun.

Cam’s favorite toy of all time is “his cube” — which if you recognize the words, “the cube. is fun. for everyonnnneee,” you know… You know.

It is fun seeing his personality develop; what he loves and what he passes on. Overall he is just fun! I love spending time with him.


Thanksgiving Leftover Soup

I’m sure many share my sentiment when I say, how is it already December?! Oh what a year it has been. Twelve months ago, we had no idea what was in store for 2020. I was 6 months pregnant, we were just starting on our downstairs renovations and coming off of Thanksgiving with my family / getting ready to go to Toronto to spend Christmas with Mike’s family. I remember I had a bad case of sciatica from pregnancy, generally felt pretty tired every day going into my 3rd trimester, and kind of overwhelmed with traveling and all of the work on the house we had to do. The holidays were a blur, honestly. If I only knew about the slower (scarier) pace of life that was about to hit us…

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the sentiments behind giving thanks and a big meal shared with others. (Christmas on the other hand? I’ve been known to dislike the cheesy music and, to be frank, the forced giving that December 25th brings; although, having Cam does seem to be changing my Grinch-y heart.)

Obviously Thanksgiving looked different this year. COVID – and therefore, the sad but undisputed decision to be socially responsible – pruned down our typical dinner guest-list of 15 and canceled travel plans altogether.

Instead of a big family meal on Thanksgiving Day proper with my stepdad’s family and then a weekend visit from my grandparents for the rest of the holiday weekend, we kept it low key and limited it to our “social bubble.” To keep things extra simple, we ordered catering from Whole Foods to just heat up and serve.

The food was pretty good but of course we had leftovers. Since it was just me and Mike who would be eating them, I decided to throw it all together with some chopped onion and vegetable broth for a Thanksgiving Leftover Soup. We used the remaining turkey meat, a chopped sweet potato, and some green beans, but this is versatile. I can imagine it being served with potatoes that you didn’t use all of for mashing, or with a side of day-old crusty bread. You can add a salad to round it out, or go full on and eat a huge bowl of leftover stuffing and gravy like I did.

There are a lot of options in making this Thanksgiving Leftover Soup and, honestly, I’m surprised I haven’t tried it before. Plus, we ate it cozied up next to the fire with a view our Christmas tree; which is a nice way to spend an afternoon. It was also so fun to wake up on Friday and put out our Christmas decorations as a little fam of 3. 🙂

Between making leftover soup and a few house projects (yes, we are lightweight still renovating), we grabbed chai tea lattes and took Cam to a nearby track for walks. We ordered matching family jams and 3 stockings for the mantel; as Christmas will also be on a much smaller scale and spent at home in California, instead of in Canada with Mike’s family.

It’s sad we don’t get to see the people we love. But it’s overwhelming happy that we have our little guy to celebrate with. It was so fun having him run around the house in his little walker. He had on a cute little turkey outfit that my mom bought him and loved playing with the feet, which had “feathers” on them. His face was a mix of confusion and glee, like there seems to be a toy on my foot and I don’t know why it’s there… but I like it.

Like the rest of the world, we’re hoping we’ll be with family next year during the holidays. Until then, we’re staying home and loving endless Cam cuddles.


All of your Autumn dreams come true: butternut squash and sugar pumpkin soup [vegan, GF]

Oh it is feeling like fall in California and I am HERE FOR IT. I’ve been making 1-2 cozy soups a week, which might be one of the few perks of covid: extra time to make homemade meals. So far we’ve ranged from grain soups (1 with quinoa and 1 with farro), to a coconut lentil soup (similar to this one), to the real autumnal winner: a butternut squash and sugar pumpkin soup.

Peeling and cubing the butternut squash and sugar pumpkin does add some upfront prep work, but it’s worth it. And with only 5 ingredients and 2 spices – after the initial effort – you’ll breeze through making this nom.


Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, deseeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 sugar pumpkin, deseeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
    • ^ combined should be about 3 cups
  • 3 1/2 cups of veg broth
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • A dash of coriander
  • A dash of nutmeg

Directions:

  • Roast butternut squash and pumpkin coated in OO at 375 for 40 minutes or until tender
  • Sautee onion until fragrant / translucent
  • Add squash and pumpkin to onion for a quick stir
  • Sprinkle in a dash of coriander and nutmeg to taste (…the true veg vibes way! I rarely give exact measurements because I rarely use exact measurements; although here I will caution less is more – unless you like your soup tasting like a PSL)
  • Add mixture to a high speed blender with veg broth and blend until creamy dreamy smooth
  • Transfer back to pot to heat again and serve

Cam 3 – 6 months

Cam turned 6 months last month and I can’t believe our baby is half a year old! You can read about his first 3 months here and here.

When Cam was around 3 months he became much more aware of objects and toys. He started grabbing for almost everything and eventually mastered switching things back and forth between his little hands but I can’t remember exactly when that started. One of his favorite things to look at was/is my morning cup of coffee. …Maybe he already knows the greatness of that black magic 😉 but probably just loves looking at all of the colors and swirls. Plus, he sees me with it everyday so is likely intrigued by that fact alone.

Cam also LOVES screens but I think all babies do? I had a theory that it is because he sees me and Mike on our phones often so he thinks, that must be fascinating! But Mike thinks it’s just because screens are interesting and we gravitate towards them. Either way, I try not to be on my phone around him too much. Mostly because I want to be present and in the moment but also because I’m sure there are better things for babies to be looking at!

Around 4 months we started a more strict bedtime routine, which was as follows:

  • bath (one of my favorite parts of the day! Cam is so calm and happy in there + Mike and I bathe him together most nights and we are completely enthralled by our perfect, happy, splashing baby)
  • get into jams and sleep sack
  • books with dad
  • feed with mom

Then sometimes I would walk around until he fell asleep and others times I would put him in his bassinet with a pacifier, hoping he was sleepy enough to fall asleep. This actually wasn’t all too bad until his pacifier popped out and he couldn’t put himself back to sleep without it. And yes, that typically happened in the middle of the night. Multiple times. I had to fish around his bassinet in the dark to find the pacifier and then try to find his mouth. It was exhausting. And I knew it wasn’t sustainable soooo at exactly 4.5 months, we sleep-trained Cam.

Our little roly poly

If I’m asked one piece of advice from new parents it will be this: sleep train your baby.

We decided to go with the extinction method, which is a bit controversial because it is basically letting your child cry themselves to sleep. I read a few books about sleep training before we started and my take was: it’s hard to let your baby cry it out but in the long run, it’s what is best for them. It is how babies learn to put themselves to sleep, which means parents also get the rest they need.

At this point, I was going back to work in 6 weeks and didn’t want to try to function on broken sleep. So, one Wednesday we decided it was time. We also went full on and took his pacifier away too. It was the hardest evening! Cam cried for just over an hour, loud screams with real tears. I had to sit outside for most of it, rereading the evidence that sleep-training does not emotionally scar your child.

Eventually he did fall asleep. And LUCKILY for us that was the worst of it. The next night he cried for about ~20 minutes, and on the third night he was already used to the drill. The next week he transitioned to his crib and we’ve been generally coasting in the sleep department ever since. YAY YAY YAY!

About a week before he turned 5 months he started rolling over from his back to his tummy like a pro. During the first days that he was mastering his new skill, both of our parents and my grandparents were able to see him roll over during our video chats. We would put the iPad behind Cam, up towards the corner of his mat when he was on his back and then the sounds of family encouragement got him to flip every time. It was so special for me to have my dad see him do this on our call because it’s almost impossible to get that man to commit to Factiming. 😉

Faceiming with G-pa

Around this time Cam also decided he had opinions about our daily walks. Suddenly he wasn’t my sleepy baby on a walk, letting me venture out all the way to the park near by our house and back; about a 45 minute walk (the same walk I did multiple times a week with him when I was pregnant). He started crying and protesting being in the stroller, cutting our walks down to about 15 minutes. Occasionally I could do our normal loop, but it was hit or miss. And then wild fire season started aggressively early and the smoke kept us inside for the last 2 weeks of my maternity leave.

Cam is still breastfeeding and I’m realizing the time we spend in his rocking chair after feeds is really sweet. After eating, he sits on my lap and looks all around; grabbing for objects nearby or scratching the material of his rocking chair. I hold him up on my legs to practice standing. I talk to him and he coos back. He’s typically pretty happy because he’s full and well-rested after a nap.

I was most looking forward to Cam trying solids! So far he’s tried sweet potatoes, avocado, banana, carrots, a kale & pear combo, and winter squash. Surprisingly winter squash seems to be his favorite, although he isn’t entirely all to interested in food…

I went back to work right before Cam turned 6 months but because of COIVD, Mike and I are working from home and Cam isn’t in daycare. My mom comes down to watch him 3 days a week and we take shifts the other 2 days. It’s a mixup of shifts and scrambling to get things down during nap time but we’re getting better at it every week. As I know everyone can relate, we are ready for this pandemic to be put to an end… particularly so Cam can meet the rest of his family!