Punkin for Punkin

Your very first Pumpkin! 

Summer is hanging on here in Seattle and you know what that means... Let's head out and make the best of it!

Now, our little summer excursions have changed a little bit with the arrival of you Ms. Mai Tai. What would normally be a weekend in wine / beer country turned into a day trip to a few pumpkin farms. That's ok, we had a blast, the weather was perfect and our little trips always tend to be a bit "interesting."

You were very busy. At first we had to walk some of the trails and we found a few Emus!

This is pretty much what the Emu thought of you.

This is what you thought of that Emu.

You got to sit down on the big kids animal train ride!

Have a little silly photo ops.

And finally decide what pumpkin felt right. All this makes for one tired baby. Next up! Your first Jack-o-Lantern!

Quality Family Time with a little Seattle tour guide

Last week was a big week for us kiddo. We had our first house guests in our new pad here in Seattle. Grandma Castaneda, Uncle Chuck and Auntie Lourdes came to visit! The week was filled with sick puppies, sick babies and sick mommies but it still worked out great. We got to hang out and for the first time, I noticed you bounding with other people besides Daddy and Mommy. It was awesome to see. Grandma and Tio y Tia got to see your crazy personality first hand!

One of the first things they noticed was how big you are getting. You're eating "real" food now and even sitting up for it by yourself! However, I don't think they were impressed with the eating environment your parents provided you.

Your eating chair before Uncle Chuck's visit.

Your eating chair after Uncle Chuck's visit.

Your very own high chair! Yea! You're pretty happy with it. Not only can you eat in safety, you can bang on your tray like a mad-baby... and also act like a big girl.

They got to see you show off for them. Acting like a big girl in your own high chair at the restaurant always makes you happy.

While they were here you discovered how to bounce in your little overstimulation station.

They also got to see your little crinkled nose, squinting snort / laugh. We are pretty sure you picked it up from the dogs.

Grandma got a kick out of your little daily "report cards" from daycare. Here are a few gems:

"Maya was pretty good today but the other kids didn't like it when she pulled their hair."

"Maya watched some friends have lunch and was very interested. There were times when her mouth went 'munch munch' too."

"Maya got a new toy that has lights and music today. Every time it sang Maya looked at us and laughed. It was a cute laugh. She made her eyes and nose all funny."

It was a great time. Daddy was able to sneak away one evening and catch a Mariners game with the family while you and Mommy rested your sick little selves at home.

I think they really enjoyed Seattle but I'm sure you were the highlight of the visit. We made a deal with Grandma that we will have a weekly "Sunday Skype with Grandma." I can't wait!

Come back real soon guys!

Hangin with Papaw and Mamaw

This second Ohio trip was pretty exciting. Not only did you get to be in your first wedding and hang with the Castaneda clan, Papaw and Mamaw Barker came up from Georgia to see you too!

First things first. Food. You had your very first high chair experience at Panera Bread in Newark, Ohio and you did swimmingly! A natural if you will. Fear not, Papaw was there to lend you a helping hand if needed.

But, as usual, you are pretty irristable so Papaw had to snatch you up!

From lunch we headed over to Aunt Patty and Uncle Gene's for some quality family time.

You even resisted your need to feed long enough to get a couple great family photos with Papaw and Mamaw!

But alas, our visit was too short. Don't worry we'll see them again soon. Papaw gave your mother a great photobook from when she was little. I can't wait to share those with you.

Flower girl Mai Tai

So the focal point of heading back to Ohio last week was for your cousin, Alyssa's wedding. Alyssa, Courtney and Aunt Linda were so excited to see you they stayed up all night waiting for you and made some welcome signs! (I think a little booze added to the"creativity" but it was very sweet)

I think your Grandma was just as excited for the wedding as she was to see you in some of the wonderful outfits she bought for you. You looked so precious getting ready for the big day.

You got to meet your cousin Hannah and she was baffled why you couldn't walk on your own yet. She decided to take matters into her own hands and coax you along. I believe here words were, and I quote: (as she opened her arms to you) "Come here buddy! (smack, smack.. the sound you would make to get a dog's attention) Come here!"

We even got a great family photo! 

So this was also your first experience with the hot summer heat in Ohio. This is pretty much what you thought of that.

That's ok, air conditioning was close by as we took shelter with Nathan the Groom.

As the ceremony began, you did your part perfect. Grammy made you this wonderful wagon and cousin Hannah practiced pulling you. You were probably the two best, cutest flower girls to ever be in a wedding. Ever.

You cousin Alyssa looked absolutely gorgeous as she made the grand entrance via airplane with her Father. (Uncle Rick) The ceremony and everything was perfect.

You had 3 outfit changes during the day. We missed photos of your second pink outfit. It's ok. It's hard keeping things clean when your a baby. Heck, it's hard for Daddy to keep things clean as an adult. It must be genetic. But all that is a big day for a little girl. Luckily you can doze off and catch some zzz's just about anywhere.

What also might be genetic is not wanting the party to ever end. You woke up and had your second wind and got to party with Mama and Uncle Gary (Big G) for a bit. He sure is tall isn't he!

Weddings can be a lot of fun and this one was a blast. Probably almost as fun as Mommy and Daddy's. Almost. ;-) 

With that said, Mommy and I were trying to teach you your first word while we were back in Ohio:


"Can you use it in a sentance?"

"Maya might choose to elope when she gets married. Elope."

Cool Travelin' Baby (Just call her the breeze)

Dear Maya,

We recently had a whirlwind Ohio trip for your Cousin's Wedding (more posts to come) but I have to tell you how impressed I am with your "coolness" while traveling.

Daddy came home a day earlier than you and Mommy.


You should probably know that your mother is a tight wad. She would rather have us fly separate to save us some dough. Your Daddy on the other hand is a spendthrift. He would gladly pay much more money to have all of us fly first class on the shortest trip possible to ensure our maximum comfort. For the most part, your mother is in the right and probably the reason we aren't in the poor house right now. Every now and then she is wrong and the money savings does not outweigh the lack of comfort / ease burden. This is one of those cases.


Grandma dropped you and Mommy off at the airport with plenty of time to board the plane. No sweat. You're cool. You've done this traveling thing before.

You even had enough time to "take a load" off at the airport. Mama was pleased as she thought she would be clear from any unpleasantries while in the air. (thought is the key word here) You board the flight on time and wait to take off. And wait... And wait.

After two hours on the runway your plane turns back to the gate and everyone exits the plane. While chaos ensues and folks try to figure out how they are going to get to their ultimate destination you're just as laid back as can be.

Finally you board again (the same plane) and head out for Chicago some three hours later than you were supposed to leave. As you land at O'hare, you and Mommy take off running to a different concourse and gate and you see the door to the flight to Seattle close as you're rounding the corner:

Mommy to agent: (probably out of breath) "Can we still get on?"

agent: "Sorry, once the door is closed it's against regulation to re-open it."

Mommy: sigh...

Maya: (thinking) "Can I eat some more?" (You seem to likey the food a lot)

With all the food, activity and crazy Ohio weekend your "regular-ness" is off and Mommy is forced to get creative with small airplane / airport bathrooms and only a few changes of clothes for you.

You're still as cool as can be and find a new strap to play with. Really. A strap. That seems to be your favorite toy right now. straps. really. I'm not kidding. Goofball.

So the next flight isn't for another 3 hours and guess what. That is delayed too. 

I think the moral of the story is never fly American Airlines again. At least not their trips through O'hare airport. Actually, just never fly American again.

3 hours is a perfect time for a nap!

You and mommy finally board and take off on the 4 hour flight back to Seattle. During this time Daddy is freaking out. I yelled at American over the phone, through email and on twitter. No one puts baby in a corner.

But finally, some 6 hours later than expected, you land in Seattle and you and Mommy get to see your Mountain!

When I see you guys I can't believe what a good mood you both are in! Tired of course, but I think I was more upset than the both of you put together. On the way home Mommy tells Daddy of your long day and how good you were. How you loved looking out the window and watching the world below. How much fun you had tearing up some American Airline magazines to shreds. (good girl) and how many friends you made along the way. (not to mention how many diaper / clothing changes you had to make) 

I guess that's just you... a good traveling baby!

P.S. - it was hard to write how good you were because tonight you were a screeching beast but I'll save that for a future post. :-)



MC 5000 foot baby (Mount Baker trip)

Well, we should really be packing and getting ready for our next move but we decided to chuck all that aside on Saturday and head up a Volcano.

Ready for another road trip baby?

This was your longest road trip to date and you did fabulous. We did cramp Mommy's style though. On road trips her motto has always been "go, go, go."

We had to make a few pit stops with you. That's ok we got to go out and smell the wildflowers a bit more.

And find unique places. (Don't ever get married at a place like this)

Sun was beating down and our final destination was Artist's Point at Mount Baker, off in the distance.

The drive up provided for some crazy pretty photo ops.

Some rock formations formed by glaciers.

And a great view of the Nooksack Falls

It also offered some gratuitous views of Mt. Shuskan at Picture Lake


and some good family photo ops.

such a happy baby!

Finally reached the last stretch of road. You'd be proud of your mama driving the last stretch up the craziest switchbacks we've ever seen. 

At the top there was snow packed over 30 feet high. In 90 degree weather!

Not a bad way to have your first encounter with snow.

Careful! It's slippery!

Again, more family photo ups at the top. And what is becoming our ritual of capturing a family self portait.
It was a good day Mai. We continue to be blessed by your road trip-ability and cooperation. We are too lucky. We can't wait until your older so we can come up and do some summer snow events with you. Er.. wait. Scratch that. It might be too dangerous. Either way, your in for a hell of a ride kiddo. :)

(more pain-stakingly, unapologetic, pretty shots from the top)

Dead Can Dance... and so can babies.

Well Mai Tai,

Your mother and I were in quite a conundrum last Friday. We bought tickets to go see Dead Can Dance and had fully been planning on taking you to the show. By the time you are reading this you are probably familiar with Dead Can Dance but just in case... they are awesome. They're a band I kind of grew up on with all my friends. I saw them for the first time in the early 90s. In the early 2000's we took a road trip from Ohio to New York to see them at Radio City Music Hall. So needless to say I'm a pretty big fan. In fact I played a lot of their stuff while you were still growing in Mommy and this song here is one of our favorites to dance to during Daddy and Maya time.

But as the time for the show approached we got nervous. Should we be taking a 4.5 month old baby to a concert? It was at an outside ampitheater and their music is sometimes classified at neo-classical so... We decided to go through with it even though we felt like rotten parents on the drive there.

Those feelings quickly vanished as we walked in to them playing Rakim.

As the song crescendoed it was time to protect those tiny eardrums.

You thought your little headphones were pretty cool.

We headed to the back of the park to grab some dinner and do a little Maya / Daddy dancing.


You got to do your first people watching at your first concert!

Yup. There are some crazy people at concerts. Especially 20 years after a "gothic band" was in their prime.


You grabbed a little dinny too.

As the show went on we got a little closer and saw more kids! There were even a couple that looked younger than you. We had so much fun we stayed for the first encore.

Mommy, who wasn't the biggest Dead Can Dance fan, was even having a blast and was jamming out to her favorite DCD tune before we left.

But we had to leave. A big outdoor concert is a big night for a little girl. Even though were home before 10 PM you were so tired you just crashed out in your little black concert tee.

So that's that. First concert at 4.5 months. I know you'll go through a phase of liking whatever kind of music you like but hopefully stuff like gives you some good variety. :)

Love Mommy and Daddy.

Mai Tai on the beach

Dear Mai Tai,

Summer of 2012 is proving to be a crazy busy summer for Team Castaneda. On July 1 our landlord told us to buy his house for a ridiculous amount of money or get out by September 1. We're choosing to get out. What does that mean? You're first house? Almost. We had an offer on a house fall through because the previous owner's thought their dirt shack was the Taj Mahal. So needless to say our days and weekends have been mostly filled with house (buying and rental) hunting. Mostly.

In the midst of all this and watching you become more awesome everyday our pups are sometimes taking back seat to our activites. I should point out that said pups are not use to this position. But we couldn't let this Goose's 12 birthday go by this year. You might never realize this but The Goose (aka Stella Mae Lupita Castañeda) is one of the best dogs to ever walk this earth. So we decided to treat her to one of her favorite doggie parks: Double Bluff Beach on Whidbey Island.

You got to take a dip in the ocean.

Doggies got to play too.

All the while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

With all that going on. What did you love most? You're Umbrella. You must truly be a Seattle-ite. Mama bear was trying to protect your baby skin and it turned into the best toy in the world. You were so proud of it.

Big days like this make for one tired baby!

You did wake up in time to enjoy some of the scenic views from the ferry deck with mommy on our way back home.

It was a great day. You were a little crabby by the end of it. That's ok. Its a big day for a little baby. If Goose makes it to age 13 we'll hit Cannon beach for that one.

P.S. - You're current nickname is Mai Tai. We figured both our dogs are named after beer, why stop there. I'm sorry if it catches on. If it does, just wear it well and be glad your real name isn't Storm. (see the naming fiasco)


So these days Maya has been eyeing our food like a little vulture. After some discussion, we decided it was time for her first cereal. I'd give this attempt a solid "C" grade. It was a great effort but I'm not sure the goal of actually eating any food was accomplished.

Disclaimer: This is an unedited video, to anyone other than the Grandmas it might be tediously boring. Also, sorry for the swearing Grandmas.