Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Chicken Salad and the End of the Running Challenge

Are you surviving the week? We've had some interrupted sleep over here (Marshall keeps us on our toes, for sure), but the days have been nice. There's a bit of a heat wave in LA right now (and the rest of California), but actually this apartment is the first we've had in a very long time that allows for a cross-breeze. We're enjoying the cool night/morning air as much as we can before it becomes unbearably hot a little later in the summer.

Today was the day to finish our 30 miles in 30 days running challenge! We completed our last miles just in time with a two mile jog this afternoon. We kept track on our refrigerator white board.

Yesterday's run was one of the toughest because we hit a LOT of uphill in the first two miles, so we did walk some. Other than that, though, we found our average speeds to be around 5.5 most of the time. Slower than we used to be, but better than nothing! Our longest run was four miles, but almost all the rest were two or three at a time. It was a great way to get back into the habit of working out every other day, so now we're ready to mix things up with some strength training, yoga, intervals, and a few HIIT workouts here and there.

Our evenings lately have included a lot of cooking, cleaning, prep for the next day, and plopping on the couch to watch a show or two before reading in bed. I'm about halfway through The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling's pseudonym), and Terry just finished Ready Player One. He's looking for another book to check out at our local library (I've got a huge stack for the summer already); any suggestions? He loves almost any genre!

I've been trying to come up with fun, creative, seasonal meal ideas lately and struggling a bit. (Yes, even with my fun chalkboard and menu planning assistant!) My friend Amanda and I discussed cooking recently and she told me she has been trying out Blue Apron, which I know a lot of bloggers love. Of course Amanda sent me a trial order (because she's Amazing Amanda), so we have that to look forward to in a few weeks! My friends Katie and Corey also gave us a housewarming gift of the same idea to Hello Fresh, so that will be the following week. My friends are way too generous, but I am excited to compare the two services! Of course I'll be sure to share as soon as we try both.

Meanwhile, I've felt motivated to try some new recipes lately. I love it when Terry requests meals, too, but often his tastes vary from mine, so we stick to the same ol' safe stuff. This week he found Ina's gazpacho recipe, which made me hesitate, but I can't exactly complain about not knowing what to make and then ignore his suggestions, right? So gazpacho it was!

I halved the recipe, but, in true Chef Julie style, forgot to halve all of the ingredients. Guess I should follow my own advice: When halving or doubling a recipe, always WRITE DOWN THE NEW MEASUREMENTS. Fail. So I halved everything except the white wine vinegar and olive oil and realized it too late. We sat down to a very acidic--but still tasty--meal last night and ended up turning to Google for help. I knew something sweet would balance the vinegar, but brown sugar in gazpacho? There weren't any other suggestions, so brown sugar it was. It worked okay last night, but today the vinegar had really set in, so we tossed the leftovers. I look forward to trying the recipe again without the vinegar flub. Poor Marshall did not care for his sour soup.

In recipe success news:

I made Julie's Chopped Summer Salad last week for a family picnic, and we loved it. This week, I wanted the same idea but decided to create a chicken salad and stuff it into a pita pocket. DELICIOUS. Here's what I did:

**Note: I recommend doing the first two steps in advance, if possible. They aren't difficult, but they require different temperatures for the oven, which can lead to feeling like you've been in the kitchen all day. It's supposed to be a simple meal!

- Marinate 2-3 chicken breasts in 3/4 cup teriyaki sauce (we used Trader Joe's Soyaki) for at least an hour in the fridge. Then bake in a baking dish lined with foil at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (check that the breasts are fully cooked). Set aside to cool.

- If you want bacon (and who doesn't want bacon?), line a rimmed baking pan with foil and place a cooling rack on top. Lay the bacon strips on the cooling rack (allows the grease to drip down and helps crisp up the bacon, plus less of a mess when cooking!). Cook in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping the bacon strips halfway. Set aside to crisp up.

- Combine the rest of the ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup hummus (we used Trader Joe's Organic Hummus Dip, which was delicious)
  • 1/2 cup green grapes, sliced in half
  • 1 chopped avocado
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped 
  • Previously marinated and cooked chicken (see above), chopped
  • Cooked bacon, chopped
Toss to combine and serve in slightly warm pita pockets (we like the whole wheat pita bread from TJ's or Whole Foods). Enjoy!

An excellent summer meal. Thanks to PB Fingers for the inspiration! I have a feeling this meal will show up several times this summer, because Terry can't stop talking about it. :-)

By the way, I stopped at Costco today and sampled these Aussie Bites, which were delicious, so I bought a box. Yum! (And here's a great example of where "some healthy ingredients" or labels like "organic" and "zero trans fats" shouldn't be mistaken for "healthy food". Plenty of added oils and sugars in here, so while I like the food and will enjoy it, I wouldn't make it a regular purchase.)

Hope you are enjoying your week! I'm looking forward to sharing some photos of our new (semi-decorated) place as well as a fun baby-related food post. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Change in Plans

Lately, in response to moving yet again within Southern California, a place I hadn't intended to inhabit longer than the four years I attended college, I have been reflecting on the path that got me to where I am, as well as where I had hoped to be now. Ultimately, a lesson I've learned over the last eight or nine years, despite trying desperately to ignore it, is: Plans change. Roll with it.

I thought I would move "home"--back to the Bay Area, near my family--after graduating from UCLA. But Terry and I had been dating a year at that point and already knew we were in it for the long haul. He wouldn't graduate for another year and a half, so I stayed in LA to be with him. After he graduated, he accepted an excellent, stable (important, given that it was 2008 and a rough time to be graduating) job that would allow him to earn his Master's degree (completely paid for by the company!). Naturally, those benefits were too wonderful and financially sound to turn down, so again we stayed. Years later, we're still grateful for Terry's job, which has allowed us to start our home (er, multiple homes), travel the world, start a family, and be a single-working-parent household.

Speaking of which, I never imagined I would be a stay-at-home mom, and certainly not for over a year! I always heard that teaching was the ideal profession for having a family, because there's "so much" time off and the hours are aligned with children's school hours, obviously. Alas, for me,  there is no way I could have continued teaching the way I did (at least as a full-time high school English teacher; I cannot speak for other teachers) and balanced having a newborn/infant. So for us, although at first it was not a planned decision, my staying home was the right one. There are a LOT of days when I panic about a future career, about finances, about having an identity outside of my family. But for now, it's working out to have me at home, so we're going to see where it leads us, and if the right job comes along I'll be grateful for the opportunity.

I always envisioned that we would follow a more traditional path as far as our home life: move to a more suburban area, buy a house, adopt a dog, then have a baby. Instead, we still live in the city, we rent and don't see ourselves buying anytime soon (see previous paragraph), we have a cat but no dog (and our place won't allow the latter), and we had a baby before any of that other stuff. Of course, I'd love to own instead of rent, but the rest of the original plans are far less important to us right now. We love the city, we love our new apartment and neighborhood, we love our cat, and we definitely wouldn't change a thing about having Marshall!

For a long time, I let myself feel upset about the fact that we didn't seem to be making any progress on the goals I had set so long ago. But I'm realizing that I need to be flexible in my goals and allow any curve balls life throws at us to become part of the plan, not necessarily an obstacle.

Truthfully, now that we live in a neighborhood we love (walking distance to everything! families playing catch in their front yards! dogs everywhere!), we are really embracing the present. More importantly, I'm trying to be less focused on the future and goals and achieving some arbitrary definition of success. Instead, I want to enjoy our new apartment in our cute neighborhood--who cares when we'll finally own a place? (Well, okay, we still care, but you get the idea.) I want to soak in my son's first years instead of panicking about the fact that I don't have a job. I want to snuggle up with our cat at night and love on our nephew dogs and my parents' new puppy instead of wondering when we'll get our own.

It's been easy to focus on the negative for too long, but I have a wonderful life. For the first time in a very long time, I'm actually appreciating the present instead of worrying about the future.

What plans have changed for the better in your life?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Some Saturday (and Sunday) Stuff

This week really got away from me! Each night, by the time we had finished cooking dinner, putting the baby to bed (there were some long, rough evenings), and cleaning up the kitchen, it was already 9 pm. I chose to spend a little quality time with the ol' husband instead of burying myself in my computer, so BLWB got a little hiatus. But I'm back!

We're super close to the end of June, and we have five miles left to run before July 1. As long as we don't get injured, we'll be able to take the day off tomorrow and then squeeze in those last two runs just in time. I'm glad we challenged ourselves, but I'm also ready for some variety in my workouts again! As I said before, the priority this month was simply getting into the groove of working out regularly again, making it a priority even when we aren't in the mood, and finding time to be active despite very small windows of opportunity. But now we see that it's pretty easy to fit in thirty minutes of exercise after Terry gets home from work, and Marshall happily chats away in his stroller 90% of the time we're jogging. At home, Marshall finds it hilarious to watch us do strength/circuit workouts, so we can fit those in before dinner, too. No excuses, I guess, huh?

We did skip one scheduled run this week because we had an impromptu date! We found ourselves with about 90 minutes and took advantage of our unexpected babysitters to run to the grocery store (romantic, I know) and to grab drinks at happy hour. It was quick but fun and a nice way to recharge in the midst of Marshall's crazy sleep patterns lately. We need more of those, so we're working on finding more babysitters to help us keep the magic alive.

Meanwhile, we have charcuterie boards after baby goes to bed.

Speaking of which, not to jinx ourselves, but Marshall slept from 7 pm (and didn't even fight going down) until 4:40 am last night. Granted, he didn't go back to sleep after that, but we're making some progress! Everything I read and every mom friend I talk to says earlier bedtimes help combat those early wake ups, so we're easing our way toward a full night of sleep over here, which we had given up on for the last few weeks.

More importantly, we're quickly approaching an age when Marshall will be able to earn his keep around here. Yesterday he practiced vacuuming with me. Vacuuming before he can walk? I'll take it.

In other important news, I just tried out this quick Yoga for Runners video, which did a nice job of helping me stretch some neglected tight spots, especially the IT band. The only bummer was the mid-video interruption for an ad, but I can't really complain about free videos, right? (Right?)

Today's lunch plans were canceled, so we're trying to think of something fun to do as a family. If we hang out at home, we generally end up just doing chores all day or feeling the need to "be productive," whereas if we head out we find ourselves relaxing, soaking up Marshall's hilarious personality, chatting with each other. Hopefully we can find a family-friendly neighborhood event or something!

It's funny how little things about our new place have started some positive habits in me. We did a fantastic job of eating at home last week, and I'm motivated to do it again, likely because we have carpet here and I can sit on the floor with my giant chalkboard to write out our weekly menu and meal plan while we watch TV at night. And now that we can do laundry anytime(!!!!), it's done before Terry gets home, so we have extra time in the evenings. This place has really been an incredible decision for us!

The next day...

Yeah, I had excellent intentions of finishing and posting yesterday, but life somehow carried on without a post. So I'll include a few updates through Sunday morning:

We did get out of the house yesterday for a fun family outing. We hit the grocery store, my eye doctor to pick up new contacts, and an ice cream shop. I had coffee ice cream with chocolate sprinkles and Terry chose two flavors: honey goat cheese and brown butter walnut. YUM. I actually think mine was better, which never happens! We let Marshall have a tiny taste of the brown butter (obviously no walnuts), and he seemed less than enthusiastic.

Marshall helped hold the umbrella.

During Marshall's second nap, Terry and I sat on the couch and read our respective books. We never do that kind of thing, but it was a little dreary outside and it felt like a lovely afternoon for some tea and reading. No regrets.

And then I got some snuggles!

Dinner was pita pizzas using whatever we had on hand: frozen spinach, mozzarella, and goat cheese. Delicious and super quick, especially because I forgot to roast up some broccoli. Oh, well.

And then last night we just watched a few episodes of Happy Endings and called it an early night. Good thing, too, because Marshall has us up quite often (see, I knew I had jinxed myself). I know it's all two steps forward and one step back, so I'm trying my best to be patient as he gets closer to sleeping through the night.

Speaking of development, the most exciting news of all: Jenn is pregnant!!! She's six months along, due in September. They're having a little boy! We're so excited for Jenn and Justin's new arrival. :-)

Congratulations, Jenn!

Hope your week starts off great!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Updates and a Glimpse at 13 Months

Happy Tuesday! I hope your week is moving along swimmingly. I've been quite tired this week thanks to some long hours in the middle of the night trying to get a certain someone to go to sleep. I'll give you two guesses who it is!

I went to the dermatologist yesterday, as promised, and it turns out my hands are just crazy dry. It's technically eczema, but nothing serious. I got a prescription for some heavy duty cream and need to (get to?) wear gloves to bed. Sounds fancy. Terry better step up his nightwear too if he doesn't want to feel under dressed!

Tomorrow Marshall and I are going to visit my friend for the day. I'm embarrassingly excited for some friend time and can't wait to hear about all the fun new things her kids are doing (she has two little girls, one older and one younger than Marshall). Plus it'll be nice to get out of the house! I've been a little too eager to hang up all our art and pictures around the house, so a break will be nice.

Terry and I are trucking along with our running goal! 10 miles to go in only seven days. We're both pretty sore from Saturday's workout, which is either a testament to an awesome workout or, more likely, a wake up call for how out of shape we are. Come on, muscles! Work with us here!

I've been on a reading frenzy! And when I say "frenzy," I mean I read one book (Lamb by Christopher Moore--hilarious and thought-provoking) in the last few weeks and just started another, but I also have a huge stack of summer (likely fall, or winter...) reading. I love having books lined up; they encourage me to keep moving! Any recommendations? On my list:
- The Silkworm (currently reading)
- My Life in Paris by Julia Child
- The Husband's Secret
- The Girl on the Train

Now that we're home from Hawaii (I was irrationally stressed about that trip), I am able to think about and get excited for the rest of summer. There's a lot on the list! A 4th of July party, my dad's 60th birthday, my 30th birthday, a girls' night away with Jenn, a wedding, and Terry's and my four-year wedding anniversary, plus hopefully lots of time with friends. We won't get to see my parents much because we need a break from all the travel and they have their new puppy, but otherwise I'm pumped!

Here's a photo of said puppy, Eiger, sleeping on the couch. Obviously this is how we should all sleep.

Aaaannnnnd...Happy 13 months to this little guy!

Some notes on thirteen months:

- The tantrums have begun. They are mild, fairly rare, and short-lived, but they are here! If we take something away, if we put him down when he wants to be held, if he is just not feeling fantastic...we get to hear ALL about it.

- We are thisclose to a walking toddler! Marshall started standing on his own in Hawaii, and he has taken a few steps since then, but I anticipate another few weeks before he's confidently walking around.

- Some firsts this last month: first plane ride and trip to Hawaii, first time visiting the delta and wearing a life jacket, first time eating In-N-Out.

- Talking (insomuch as intelligible words) is fairly limited, but the words we recognize are: dada, mama (today! finally!), dog, cat, hi, that. If he sees a picture of a lion, he roars, which might be the cutest thing anyone has ever done.

- After months of trying to teach him, Marshall can now sign "more" when he wants to eat more of something. He is still getting used to using it, but it's amazing to see him do it! He's also working on waving goodbye, clapping, and pointing out body parts (he knows head, ears, nose, belly button, feet/foot, toes, and hands). 

- Marshall plays pretty well independently around our new apartment. We finally unpacked everything and made sure the place is safe for him, so we keep the master bedroom door and bathroom door shut and let him roam free elsewhere. I can't resist checking on him every two minutes, but he's usually just exploring, torturing Scout, playing with a toy, reading a book, or trying to find me. 

Or pulling out every item on our bookshelf.

Or just chillin' with the clicker.

- He loves books, especially those with animals. Our current favorites are: Pout Pout Fish, anything with animals or flaps, a finger puppet book (he keeps kissing the puppet), and books with different textures.

- He seems drawn to toys with wheels and still loves holding an object in at least one hand while crawling, even if it means he has to crawl on one elbow and one hand. Determination, folks.

- Often in the afternoons Grumpy Marshall wakes up from the nap instead of Happy Marshall, and the rest of the day can be a little rough: lots of whining, wanting to be held (sweet, but not practical when dinner must be prepared), crying at the drop of a hat. Luckily Grumpy Marshall doesn't come around too often and we usually get our happy, silly kid.

- Marshall still eats like a champ and sleeps terribly at night. Naps are spectacular! Almost guaranteed 90 minute nap in the morning and 60 minutes in the afternoon, no fussing, no fighting. Wish I could say the same at night!

- No idea how much he weighs or how tall, but he is TALL because he can reach everything. And he's wearing 18-24 month clothing, depending on the brand.

- He has a new adorable habit of showing he's tired by crawling over to one of us, sucking his thumb, and cuddling up really close. He usually ends up rolling around and being silly, but the closeness part is painfully sweet.

13 months is challenging so far, but an absolute blast! We love getting to see more and more personality every day, including a silly scrunched up smile and lots of peekaboo.

What fun (or not fun?) events do you have coming up this summer?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day Weekend

Happy Father's Day! I hope you enjoyed a lovely day and that you were able to celebrate the fathers and father figures in your life.

This morning Marshall woke up at 4:45, and after I fed him and changed his diaper Terry got up and tried to put the baby back to sleep, but that little guy was wide awake. I did let Terry go back to bed and hung out with Marshall for a bit before we officially got the day started. Some tea and hanging with my favorite boys helped a lot!

Like daddy, like son.

After a quick gift exchange, 
Picture frame with three photos of Marshall wearing jerseys for Terry's favorite teams--Dodgers, Bruins, Kings


breakfast for Marshall, and a snack for Mom and Dad (an apple with almond butter), we headed out for a long run. After parking at UCLA, we looped the perimeter while Marshall napped comfortably in the BOB stroller. We walked intermittently but ended up completing four miles jogging and about five and a half miles total. Whew! Definitely more than we've done in a VERY long time. 

Actually, this weekend was a great one for workouts. Terry ran three miles on Friday to catch up on the miles I did in Hawaii without him. Then yesterday we completed a delightfully quick and sweaty workout together, which was fun! We haven't done a strength/circuit workout together in a long time.

I set an alarm for 20 minutes. Every minute on the minute, we did 5 push ups, and then for the remaining time in that minute we completed a different exercise. It definitely got the heart rate up and challenged lots of different muscle groups! (By the end, I had done at least 3 sets of push ups on my knees, and I did high knees instead of tuck jumps.) Give it a try!

Yesterday we also got massages! We had gift cards from Christmas and finally found an opportunity to go to Burke Williams to get pampered. It was really nice to just relax and take advantage of all the amenities. 

Anyway, back to today. After our long run/walk, we headed home, and Terry spotted a dog hanging out on the corner near our apartment without an owner around. She walked up to us as we parked, and we spent a good half hour wandering the neighborhood with her, hoping she would lead us to her house. (Marshall was thrilled! He kept saying, "Dog! Dog!" and smiling and pointing.) Unfortunately, the sweet little thing seemed like she had no idea where she lived, and she had no tags, so I brought her to our local shelter to ask next steps (our apartment doesn't allow dogs). The shelter was AMAZING and incredibly friendly with lots of sweet volunteers, so I felt okay leaving her there with all my contact information just in case. Er, well, after I cried for about half an hour I felt okay. 

Good news, though: A few hours later, the shelter called me and said the owner had come to pick up that sweet girl! The owner was so kind and grateful, and I was just ecstatic that Happy (perfectly fitting name) was back with her family. Yay for Terry for spotting the dog!

Scout was just glad we didn't add a dog to our family.

We also made a trip to the farmers' market today.

Complete with live music

And several fruit samples.

I made Ina Garten's Cream of Wild Mushroom soup (delicious flavor!) tonight for dinner, at Terry's request, along with salad and sweet potatoes. We are currently watching X-Men: Days of Future Past to round out a lovely, productive, fun weekend.

In other fun news, did you know House Hunters is on Hulu and Netflix? I just can't express how happy it makes me!

Tomorrow I have an appointment with a dermatologist, because my hands have been crazy dry and itchy for the last few weeks. Otherwise, this week brings My Gym classes, lots of meals at home, and hopefully some visits with a few friends.

I hope your week starts off wonderfully!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ready for the Weekend

Ahhh Friday. You couldn't come soon enough this week. And it's been a rather great few days, too! But jet lag, lots of baby wake-ups, and trying to finally finish up some last details around the new apartment have tuckered me out. Terry was off today, so we are ready for the weekend!

Marshall checking out a bird while we enjoyed lunch al fresco

This week has brought some lovely, not-too-hot-yet weather to LA. We are gearing up (bracing ourselves) for a heat wave--we'll see how the new place does with no AC!--and I'm trying to spend lots of time outdoors with Marshall before we hole up away from the sun next week. Tuesday we all enjoyed a run after Terry got home from work (update on our June running challenge below!); Wednesday M and I headed to a new park for a picnic and walk to Whole Foods; and yesterday we ended our run at a local park for a family picnic dinner!

Along with lots of outdoor time, we're trying to eat in as much as possible. This week we had:
Sourdough bread, grilled zucchini, goat cheese, and roasted red pepper open-faced sandwiches with broccoli

Southwest lettuce wraps with Romaine lettuce, roasted sweet potato chunks, black beans, corn, salsa verde, cheddar cheese, avocado, and sour cream (Greek yogurt if you're weird like us)--these were SO good!--with cornbread on the side

Greek salad for our picnic dinner last night, plus a baked sweet potato later in the evening

Lunches have been leftovers or whatever's around, and breakfast was the usual oats or eggs

Some photos from our outdoor dining adventures:

Wednesday night I made cookie dough and then baked the cookies in the morning (after years of experiments, I've discovered chilling the dough up to 24 hrs makes ALL the difference in my cookies!), then brought a third of them to Terry's work. I love baking for others, but I actually rarely find chances to do it. Many of my friends live far away, and Jenn is gluten-free (although I do still pawn off some goodies on her husband because he has a sweet tooth like mine). So usually I just bake for Terry and me, which isn't a problem exactly, but it's a little less exciting, because Terry eats everything. Even sauerkraut. So his (unwaveringly positive) opinion doesn't really mean I did a great job; it just means I handed him something fairly edible.

I digress. So anyway, until I'm back at work and able to bring food to my own coworkers I shall share with his. I hope they loved them.

Another aspect of returning from vacation plus finding normalcy after a month-plus of moving and packing is exercise! Ahh how easy it is to go a day--and then two, and then eight?--without intentionally breaking a sweat (I do find myself sweating an embarrassing amount while carrying Marshall and juggling groceries/boxes/other random parcels from the car to our apartment, which is approximately 23 stairs and maybe 15 flat steps). Hence our June challenge. We do really well when we set goals for ourselves, so we chose 30 miles in 30 days and have been progressing nicely. I figure if we can knock out this challenge, we'll have a little routine going--right now it's every other day right after Terry gets home from work--and we'll be more likely to stick to a more varied workout routine after June ends. Here's hoping, anyway!

So we ran once at my parents' house the day before we left for Hawaii (two grueling miles in ridiculous heat at 3 pm) and once along the beach in Hawaii before Terry got sick. Then I ran three miles on my own one day in Maui, and we knocked out two more this past Tuesday. Then last night we ran one mile to get to our picnic spot, and Terry plowed through three miles this morning. So we have 16 miles left.

Not bad, but a lot of miles left in only 12 days!

Today was a bit of recovery--we've had a tough night or two with Marshall (teething, I assume)--and lots of work around the apartment. Terry took Marshall out for a while, and I got more done in those two hours than I have in about a week! I felt like a little tornado spinning through the house. Now, of course, I'm wiped out, but it was worth it to get some art hung on the walls, lots of cleaning done, and some reorganizing finished. Now I feel like our place is actually home!

Hope you had a wonderful week and are planning a delightful weekend. We'll be visiting family tomorrow, getting massages (!!!), and enjoying Father's Day at home on Sunday. It should be lovely!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Maui Continued

We last left off chatting about the general goings on in Maui, so let's continue from Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, Terry wasn't feeling great all day Tuesday and Wednesday (chills, body aches), so we canceled our lunch date (we had hoped to sneak in one date with all those available babysitters, but fate had other plans) and headed to urgent care instead. Fun fact: In Hawaii, doctors wear flip flops.

Terry didn't feel immediately better, but he was back to 100% by the weekend, so at least the trip to urgent care bought us some peace of mind. Plus, since we knew he wasn't dying, he decided he was still up for a sushi double date with my brother and sister-in-law!

We had head amazing things about Sansei, and we wanted to take advantage of the happy hour specials, so we arrived for our 5:30 reservation (recommended if you try it) to place our order by the 6 pm cut off. We ordered a ton of food, and even with the 25% off deal it was pricey, but definitely deeeeeelicious! 

We grabbed dessert afterward and headed back to the baby and my parents, who generously watched the little guy for us. 

The next day, my dad and brother went golfing, and the rest of us headed to the beach for some sand time for Marshall. He had a BLAST getting all sandy and even taking a dip in the ocean.

At one point, Marshall turned toward the ocean and confidently crawled toward the waves. Brave little soldier. Watching Marshall play in the sand was the highlight of my trip!

Later that morning, Terry wasn't up for it but I took off on a run to keep up with our June challenge. I actually eked out three miles along the beach walk path and soaked in the gorgeous views.  

We loved our time on Maui, but sadly we had to say goodbye to our awesome patio and fun family...

...to head to Oahu!

On our way to the airport, we stopped at Da Kitchen for some local food. I asked for a recommendation from the server and ended up with the combination plate: lau lau, Kalua pork, and chicken noodle soup of some sort. It was phenomenal. The pork in particular made me regret not knowing about it earlier!

And then we were in Honolulu! We stayed at the Aqua Palms Waikiki, which was good enough for only two nights. I would probably stay somewhere else next time, though. The location was a good one, though, as we were able to walk around all evening.
By the way, we bought this Kolcraft stroller for the trip, and it was perfect. Super lightweight, comfy for Marshall, and sturdier than most umbrella strollers we saw at a lower price point.

Anyway, we checked out Honolulu a bit and ended up at Heavenly, an organic- and local-focused spot, for dinner. Terry had the loco moco with veggies and quinoa, and I had the acai bowl.

Not a bad view, Waikiki.

Saturday morning we all woke up early to head to Pearl Harbor. We enjoyed a gorgeous day and soaked in the history, but Marshall wasn't in the best of moods, so our trip was short. 

To make the most of the day, we let him sleep in the car and took a long drive out to North Shore and back. And then we hit up Ono Hawaiian Foods, a favorite of Terry's family's, for more local food. Again, delicious! I recommend it on par with Da Kitchen.

My sister-in-law Ashley recommended Leonard's for malasadas, which are Portuguese donuts. OH MAN. So good. We bought a bunch for later but they were best hot. My friend Jamie (a local--see below) said, "Oh, man, fried dough dipped in sugar? My dream." Exactly.

Speaking of Jamie, she was actually the reason we went to Hawaii in the first place. Her wedding took place on Saturday, and my parents were invited along with Terry and me. Terry stayed at the hotel with Marshall during the ceremony and then my parents swapped with him for the last hour or so so he could come congratulate the couple. 

It was a GORGEOUS wedding! It took place at Halekulani, a stunning hotel, and every detail was just perfect. I loved all the touches of pale pink, the hilarious speeches, and the fact that we ladies got real leis! Plus, Jamie (and Nicholas!) looked picture perfect. We had so much fun celebrating with them!

We also got lucky enough to get a chance to visit with the happy couple the next morning over a cup of tea. It was so wonderful to hang out and catch up (Jamie was my college roommate, and we were on the dance team together at UCLA for a year); plus Jamie and Nicholas got to meet Marshall! Hooray! I was so thrilled to get to see those two and can't wait for our next visit!

After our quick morning visit, we headed to the airport. Marshall snoozed in the car on the way there and then dozed off in the Ergo on me while we returned the rental car, which was perfect. You'll notice our relaxed faces--we're thinking, "Only one more flight to go! We can do this!" (Traveling with a baby is stressful!)

Thankfully these two didn't mind helping us out. Thanks, PopPop and JanJan!

Marshall was really great on the flight home. He slept some, played a lot, ate a bit, and loved looking at all the lights (and the wing light flashing!) during landing. I've never seen him sit so still for so long!

And now we're home, grateful for some normalcy and routine. It was a fun trip, and I'm so grateful for the time we spent with my family and the chance to attend my close friend's wedding. But three flights, two long car rides, lots of night wakings, and some serious jet lag make me wonder if we would ever travel so far and so long with a one-year-old again. 

Oh, and I don't have a photo of it (nor do I have a meaningful transition to it), but Marshall learned how to stand up by himself while we were in Hawaii! He chose the Maui airport (waiting to board our flight to Oahu) and just pushed himself up using my leg, then let go with both hands. Now he's able to use the floor to get up, but he just stands there, makes sure someone acknowledges his amazing feat, and sits down smiling. Then he claps. Pretty darn cute.

Speaking of jet lag, I'm trying to get to bed earlier tonight to get back on a normal schedule. Off I go! 

Let me know if you have any questions about the places we visited! I have LOTS of Maui tips and some general Oahu advice, too. Happy travels!