Mama, Seattle and Baby

Dear Maya,

Here is your Mama the day before her and I got married, at our rehearsal dinner. This was in our backyard at the house we owned in Galloway, Ohio. Who would have thought that nearly 11 years later we would be living across the country and have you in our lives? I can tell you for certain that we did not.

So how did we end up in Seattle? Well when I was 19 years old I went on a cross country road trip that ended in Seattle. I fell in love with it and always wanted to go back. It turns out your mother and I both have a bit of a travel bug and it bit us at the right time. I remember when we first came out to scope out the housing situation. It was really happening. I think your mother freaked and wanted to abandon ship. :)

I think that picture says a lot about your Mother. In the height of a crazy stressful time she always takes time to laugh. That is important. That is why we love her. That picture was taken from our hotel room at the Edgewater. This was our view in the morning. I think that day was the first time Mama started to fall for Seattle.

Fast forward about 1 month and bam. We're here. This is the first house we rented in Seattle. It was on Gilman Ave in the Magnolia neighborhood.

We loved Magnolia but hated the house. So less than 12 months later we found a place on 48 Ave in West Seattle. This house is important. This is where we finally felt comfortable and at ease. It was stressful in Ohio, the move and everything. Finally we started to feel settled here. 

10 months later you came in to the world. And our world was flipped upside down again.

This post ended about 5:11 PM on March 14, 2012. Between then and your birth your mother was amazing.

We got home and we knew she was in labor. We were prepared and had an idea of what we wanted to do. We didn't want to get to the hospital early. We had practiced some breathing and exercises. Most importantly we were both calm and on the same page. You can thank your Mother for that. She was cool like the Fonz. We got home and she said she was hungry. So I made dinner. Butternut Squash ravioli with asparagus in an oil and balsamic sauce.

While I cooked you mother did her exercises on our exercise ball. We talked and took little massage breaks during the contractions.

It was probably about 8 PM when we decided it was time to go to the hospital. Your Grandma was out shopping and just got back at the perfect time. They say that once a woman can't talk through a contraction it's time to go to the hospital. Your mother hit that point in the car. We started getting a little more anxious. We pulled up and head into the Hospital and Grandma parked our car. 

Now, we had been back and forth on whether or not to use medication for the birth. We decided we'd decide when the time was right versus deciding up front. By the time we were in the triage room Mama was ready to strangle someone if they didn't give her drugs, STAT!

The drugs helped. They helped a lot. Mama was able to take a nap and within 5 hours of being admitted, you were born!

So while your birth was abnormally easy I'm pretty sure Mama is always going to use the whole "I made you" routine around Mother's Day. And rightfully so. She is awesome. She's deserves her Mother's Day "weekend" from us at the very least.

Here is a picture of her pregnant with you. She always wanted to look "more pregnant" than she did. Even though her belly was smaller you were still big. You just had your crazy little legs and feet jammed up her rib cage and pretty much kicked her the entire last trimester.

She loves you so much Mai and while I get to wax poetic about you on this blog she is the one who tends to your every need. She gives your pill every morning and has since you were 3 weeks old. She has done such a good job with it that you LOVE taking your pill and the Doctor loves the results we are seeing. All because of Mama.

When you were just a tiny baby and couldn't hold your head up yet she was the one on the ground with you and helping you learn your way in this human life. Always there with love, smiles and encouragement.

She is the one who takes you to the play areas you love. Encouraging you to play with all kinds of toys, obstacles and musical instruments.

She deals with the things about Seattle that she hates just to make the family happy. What does she hate about Seattle? For one, when in a parking lot with empty spots people will park as close to  you as they possibly can. It's almost like a conspiracy theory. Why Seattle? Why do you do this?

She has been on 2 solo trips with you and THAT is a lot of work. All because she wants you to spend time with your family and share you with everyone.

She's the one who has the patience to deal with you after you are being a little monster beast and save the day. We were at the Skagit County Tulip Festival earlier this year and you were awful. Just awful. Spoiled, screeching, whiny little beast. Daddy was done with you and ready to just go home. Not Mama. She said no. You weren't going to ruin our Tulip days. She took over and you listened and within a few minutes you were finally able to snap out of your mood and enjoy the flowers a bit.

She took you swimming for the first time in Palm Springs a few weeks back.

At the end of the day she just loves you unconditionally. Just like a good mother should. Except she's not just a good mother. She's probably the best.

So let's love her unconditionally too. Let's take her to her favorite vineyards and wine bars.

Let's take her to the sea that she loves.

Let's remind  her of how beautiful she is.

Let's remind her of the small details of our journey together and make her smile, laugh and cry. This is right after we lost our Foz Bear. We headed out to Walla, Walla to just get away. It was a long drive and a long day. Everyone was settled in the room and I was getting the last of our things. I laughed as I brought these last three things in. Three things, one for each of my girls. It was a good weekend in Walla, Walla.

But most of our let's just remind her that we love her and appreciate her. And not just on Mother's Day. Let do it every day. She deserve's it.

Thanks Mama. You truly are the best Mama! We love you!


"Best" Friends

Dear Maya,

Since you've been able to discover your world more lately you've taken a strong liking for the first princess of Team Castaneda, Stella Mae Lupita Castañeda.

Now Mama might not agree Stellie was the "first" princess of the family but we all know who used to rule the kingdom here before you came along.

Now that you're here Stellie has learned to take a back seat. That's ok. You like to share things with her.

Make sure she knows you're there. Don't worry. Everyone knows you're here. Everyone.

You both beg for the same treats. (Just so you know, Goose wouldn't eat half the stuff she eats now because of your scraps)

You even started playing together. Today you played a little tug and as close to "fetch" as goose gets with one of her toys. Here you are making sure Stellie at least has a block to play with.

You also are learning "gentle" when you interact with the Goose. You're doing pretty good and try to hold her "hand" sometimes.

And anyone that knows Stelle Belle should be very proud of her too. She is patient and calm for you always. She still needs her goose time every now and then and has recently taken up reading your Haiku book. In case you hadn't noticed she's a pretty advanced dog.

We are just ecstatic that you are getting some good quality goose time in. She was our first  princess and we spoiled her so. It's pretty cool seeing our princesses play together. Don't be too cute though or Mommy might get jealous. And be careful how close you get to "beary" - goose might get jealous too! (Probably not)

As you wish my buttercup, as you wish....


The vocabulary of a 1 year old

Dear Maya,

You are almost 14 months old now and your vocabulary is building up. I’m not 100% convinced you know the meaning of all these words but I’m pretty sure this is what you are saying. Let’s see if we can translate.

As in, “Dada!” (he’s the coolest person I know) Or as in:
Mama: “Maya, say Mama.”
Maya: “Dada.”
Mama: “brat.”

As in, “MommmMaaaa” (It’s the easiest sound to make spit bubbles with)

As in “DAD! NOW!” The other day we had this exchange as we were about to go upstairs and get ready for nighty. You and Mama were waiting at the bottom of the stairs and I was in the kitchen.

Mama: “Do you want to take her up and get in her in PJs and I’ll bring her bottle up?”
Dada: (silence) (I was busy)
Mama: “Hello?”
Dada: (silence) (very busy)
Mama: “Or do you just want to ignore me and not take your daughter to bed. We’re waiting on you?!?!?!”
Maya: “DAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Dada: (spits cola out of nose and bursts into laughter) “I’m coming, I’m coming! Sheesh!”

as in (whisper) “bebbe” You kind of stopped doing this and I hope we have a video somewhere but everytime you saw a picture of yourself or saw yourself in the mirror you whispered “bebee”

As in “Dog.” Stella is a dog. Cats are dogs. Camels are dogs. Just about every animal you see. “Dog.”

As in “Duck.” The only other animal you call out by name. I’m still not convinced you really know the difference between a dog and duck. Duck comes out of your mouth pretty randomly. I’m actually a little worried you might be cursing at me instead of naming innocent animals.

As in “I want THAT” or “I want to play with THAT!” or “what is THAT?” or “THAT! put me in my high chair so I can feed! THAT!” Its pretty much your go to word now when you want us to do your bidding.

As in “Awww, I like to cuddle my blanket, toy, mama or daddy.” In fact I saw you hug your shoe the other day and go “Awww” Those are some pretty cool shoes.

As in “Hiyee!!! pay attention to ME now! HIYEE!!”

As in “I am ok with one of us leaving the vicinity. Bye.” You just started doing this weird southern twang thing where it sounds like you are saying “Bah-bye, ba-bee!”

You guessed it. Defiant little brat.

As in “My dada is so cool he deserves to be called something more than just ‘dada’. I’ll call him DadDog.”

As in “Mmmmm! I’m eating just about anything and I like it. and I want more! THAT! THAT! THAT!”

As in “Uh-oh. I just dropped this 20 pound thing on the hardwood floor for the 12th time and now its your turn big person to pick it up and give it to me. Uh-oh...”

You actually call books “Books” and it seems like you know what “book” means but I think this word is fading in favor of some of your more obnoxious words.

you probably want down to get to “THAT!” or do some other obnoxious thing.

Do Do Do
Your latest addition is a song request. "Do Do Do" means that daddy should jump into that Police song from the 80s. We were at the store over the weekend and you and I sang this together as we cruised the aisles. It was pretty darn cute.

Here are some various clips of a few of those words in action I caught hanging with you over the weekend. (we were both still sicky)

note: if you can't play the video, try it on youtube here!

Much Love Mai, Much Love,


We have a walker

Dear Maya,

I think we can officially call April 10, 2013 as your first day "walking." Just under 13 months. On that day you took your first 5 - 7 steps solo without holding on to anything. Up until then we could get you to take one step or two if we were lucky but no more than that. After that you would tumble to the ground and kick it to your comfortable hyper-speed crawl.

I came home from work that Wednesday and you took like 5 steps to me . Then 7 back to Mommy. Then crawled the rest of the night. For the rest of the week that is pretty much how it went.

The following weekend is when you started to really get your walking feet down but as Mommy but it: "She's not real good at it." 

You probably already understand this but you're going to need some tough skin to hang with this family. 

You're still pretty cautious with it but walking is definitely your preferred method of travel these days.

The other day you started into a sprint. You fell but got right back up and were at it again. To paraphrase Rocky Balboa, That's how winnings done Mai. It's about getting back up and moving forward.



P.S. I can't help to think of the Walking Dead every time you Mommy calls you "a walker." Just don't ever try to eat my brains.

Hello again: Brand New (blog) Home Take 2

Hi folks,

Sorry for the outage but I think I've settled on a new blogging platform. seems to be created by some folks that created Posterous. Its pretty basic right now but I like what I see so far. Hopefully we'll get some style and all that jazz soon. For what its worth Tumblr was way too "cool kid" for my liking. I feel like Tumblr was created and used by the same type of people that use terms like "Bro-grammer" It makes me shudder. Word Press felt like it was taking to long to get to something of value. Plus they wanted $$$ up front before trying any of their "advanced" features. Boo.

PLUS Posthaven migrated all of our posterous posts without issue! Yay! Hopefully you can still get to all of Maya's previous adventures.

Let me know what you think. Hopefully this is the last technical interruption. 

Now back to Mai Tai

Check her out coloring on her place mat on our trip up to Anacortes last weekend.

Our little material girl

I don't know if this picture should scare me or what? It does. It does scare me. You like food, plastic, clothes, shoes and can climb the crap out of a set of stairs but are defiant enough not to walk yet. 

It actually reminds of something else I was doing earlier this week.

Notice what my answer was? "NO! Maya DID NOT pay for more than half her living expenses this year." In fact, Maya paid for exactly ZERO of her living expenses this year. Luckily Grandma likes to shop and is keeping you clothed. (see lepoard print pants above) You best start earnly your keep girlie!

Ok, I kid, I kid. You don't have to start earning your keep for at least 4 more years. After that we have to talk.

We were at your first Seattle wedding tonight and Mama snapped this shot.

I have a feeling my wallet is going to be the easiest thing you take from me my dear. :)



Easter at Deception Pass

Dear Mai,

Seattle and the Pacific Northwest has taught us one thing about spring, if its gorgeous outside, take advantage of it. We did just that today. We found out about 9 AM today that our plans for the day fell through. Our reaction? "Quick: What do we do? Where do we go? Umm... North? Ok, cool. Maybe Deception Pass?"

Within 45minutes we were packed and ready to go. Road Trip! You can tell I didn't even shower. I'm all disheveled and gritty looking. But you my dear, you look fabulous.

Now we really had no idea what Deception Pass had to offer so we figured we do a bit of research on the drive north. If nothing else we could hit the Skagit Tulip fields or bum around Bellingham. Turns out Deception Pass is pretty cool. Less than a 2 hour drive was perfect for your morning nap and you were all ready to go once we got there.

So Deception Pass is a state park with the heart of the attraction being this bridge that connects us to Whidbey Island. The bridge is crazy cool.

Mama had a mild panic attack crossing it with you and booked to the other side to get you across safely. Your mother is silly sometimes.

But we managed to stomach the heights and appreciate some of the views that bridge has to offer on foot. You can barely make out Mount Baker in the background. It was pretty impressive live.

We even got to see a bald eagle perched on a tree below us! and watch him in flight to go fishing. 

And you got to climb around on some of the rocks leading down to the shoreline. You are quite the city girl. At first you touched the mossy rocks like it was from a different planent. Not quite the same as those man made climbing areas at the mall is it?

All this nature girl stuff makes a girl hungry! (Still no reason to stuff 84 puffs into your mouth at once but I guess that's how you roll)

Enough of this snack stuff! Let's hit the West Beach and have our picnic! Tell us Mai, how do you feel about a couscous, squash and carrot picnic?

Awesome. Time to hit the beach and play in the sand a bit! Looks like city is girl is finally cutting loose. You loved playing in the sand and gathering rocks!

Mama loves to play in the tide pools and climb on the big rocks. One day soon you'll be able to do that with her. For now here she is on a rock taking a picture and then the picture she took while on that rock. 

At most of the beaches out here in the Pacific Northwest there is a lot of driftwood that comes ashore. Folks build all kinds of things from this driftwood, from art to forts. You loved this fort and probably could have explored here for hours.

It probably wasn't the most traditional Easter but it was pretty perfect for our family. Some of the families out there did have easter egg hunts. I found this one before any of the other kids. Yeah. I still got it. Maybe next year you'll be able to take part too.

Everyone is crashed out right now from our long day. It's time for Daddy to do so too. Night, night prinecess.



Baby needs a new pair of Choos!

So a few weeks back we decided that we needed to get some real shoes for you Maya. The shoes we were trying to put on you didn't fit right and we thought you might have some weird big foot thing happening. Luckily there's Striderite and they have professionals. They set us straight.

Let me set the tone. It was Aunt Becky's Birthday and this is how your mother was going to spend the afternoon.

Which meant Daddy was left to do the shoe shopping. There is only one striderite in the Seattle area and that mall is constantly packed. Especially on Sundays. I was pretty much going to have to deal with this. Don't feel bad for me. Mommy takes the brunt of the grunt work these days. :-)

We survived and oddly enough were in and out of Striderite in a matter of minutes. I have to say I think I did a pretty good job picking out your first shoes.

We head over to the play zone and instantly you were transformed from my little helpless baby to this crazy climbing kid!

You LOVE your new kicks! They helped you explore the Nirvana exhibit at the EMP.

And of course you ruled your favorite activities at the Children's museum. The slide is your new favorite thing to do.

As much as you love your new choos, you still prefer a good ol' crawl to taking solo steps. Soon enough, soon enough. I don't understand it though. You can climb all over things, stairs, take on slides and do some crazy acrobatics like this? 

I think you also like to kick the shoes off at the end of a long day. You also like to do one of Daddy's trick and wear the sock half on and half off. :-)

And at the end of a long day, Daddy and Baby deserve a nap or two.

Next up? Maybe some Chuck Taylor high tops and a pair of heavy metal boots a-la Lita Ford? I wonder if they sell those in size baby fives?



Birthday Festivities

Maya Rose Castañeda,

On the Ides of March, 2013 we celebrated your 1st Birthday. Your mother and I are so crazy some times. We put ourselves through the ringer trying to decide how to celebrate your birthday. Should we head back to Ohio? Should we do something kid friendly here? Should we keep it mellow and go out to dinner? Should we throw a kegger? Should we go to Mexico? Should we go to Alaska? Should we get a Piñata? Should the Piñata be filled with airport size booze bottles? What to do?

So, stereotypical us, we played it by ear and just winged it. We had planned on going out to dinner but we weren't feeling it as the day progressed so at about 5 hours before we were supposed to meet folks out at the restaurant we changed plans and decided to just invite folks over for cupcakes. Our friends must hate us sometimes. I'm sorry to say that you'll probably inherit some of our crazy ways.

At the end of the day, it all worked out and was perfect. We had friends, presents, some family in town and some facetime with Grammy. It was a pretty perfect day. Week in fact.

The week before your birthday, Grammy and your Aunt Linda sent you your first Kitchen! Woo Hoo! The kitchen is a pretty big hit with you and it only tackled you twice so far!

Mama put it together all by herself and only had this many screws left over after it was up! (I shouldn't it talk; sometimes it requires a six pack for me to get these things together. Here some advice for you as you grow up: Ikea stuff is much easier to put together than target. It's worth the Ikea madness in the end.)

Either way, you are a pretty happy camper with your kitchen. You also love your chair that Grammy bought for you 3 days before you were born at some crazy consignment shop here in Seattle. You'll soon discover that your Grammy likes to "Pop some tags" - if you will.

The day before your birthday your cousins Deb and Chris flew into town! We had some fun showing them around Seattle!

The day and time finally arrived and we had some great friends over to help celebrate with you. We did presents first! You made out like a bandit!

Then it was cupcake time. Here are the photos first then the video. The video is pretty indicative of how things are. It shows that we are still pretty new at this parenting thing and have no qualms about handing fire to a one year old. Second it shows how defiant your little beast self is. You refuse to try the cake. (probably because it burnt you first but whatevs) It takes Mommy shoving some in your mouth to make you try it. Then it shows your interest is piqued. You love it but you don't want it to be too obvious. You also show the power you have on us by refusing to use your hands and making mommy feed it to you. It finally shows us turning the table and just leaving it in front of you. Fine. If you don't want to eat it yourself it is just going to sit there. At this point you can't resist and dig in. At the end it also shows that you will probably eat to you explode. You don't seem to have much of an off button when it comes to eating. For what its worth, neither do I. We decide enough was enough and take it away from you. I know, I know. We are awful parents. But it was time to play with the presents!

Our current living situation finds our total living space being within about a 9 by 11 room. It was pretty hot with everyone there. We were also expecting you to make a disaster with the cupcake. Hell you make a disaster with cheerios and bananas, why wouldn't we expect a disaster with cake? Anyhow, this is the reason for your nekkid playtime.

You and Lorelei had a blast playing in your new kitchen. You also tried to climb in the oven. More advice for you: Don't climb in ovens.

This is Stacy your Birthday "twin." :-) You and her share the Ides of March as your birthday. I think that is kind of foretelling. At the end of the night you were up way past your bedtime, full of sugar and just having tons of fun with everyone. Stacy had you laughing like a crazed hyena with the Fish. It was more like.

Maya: throws fish to floor.

Stacy: Picks up fish from floor. Hands fish to Maya.

Maya: busts into hysterics.(goto step 1)

Be nice to her; she is going to babysit you soon for Daddy's birthday! :-)

Like I said earlier, it was a pretty good week Mai Tai. You are loved by many. I can't believe it has already been over a year. What would we do without you? (FYI, we'd probably travel to exotic places... I kid, I kid... for the most part :-)

Here's to a good year number two. I'm sure we'll get some good travel in this year and you'll have a lot more exploring to do. Maybe we'll get that Piñata for birthday number 2 also! 

Much love Mai, Much love,