Trick-or-treating with a toddler (for the first time)

Yes, that’s right. We just took our tot trick-or-treating for the first time. She’s three, almost four, and we haven’t attempted the whole trick-or-treating-Halloween-pumpkin-carving thing at all. She had a bit more interest in the pumpkins at the grocery store this year, and had learned more about Halloween while at preschool, but had no desire to wear a costume at all.

Taking a toddler out for her first night of treat gathering is also a unique thing. My child was totally clueless. We attempted to prep her before the adventure, stressing to say, “trick or treat” when accepting goodies and offering a “thank you” once the candy was in hand.

Yeah. That didn’t happen.

Amazingly, after getting a bit of face paint, our tot jumped right into her Halloween outfit and was ready to head out. Our town turns main street into a trick-or-treater’s paradise and shop owners offer candies to tots as they walk by. It’s perfect for little kids and the street was packed. We walked up to the first spot to stop and my child seriously freaked. She hid behind me, wouldn’t move, didn’t talk, and literally tried to crawl me. I pulled her aside and we took a moment.

I got down to her level and asked her about what was going on. She didn’t seem to like all the attention being on her when walking up to a person with candy so I offered to say trick or treat with her. We cautiously walked up to the next spot and she hid again.

So, at this point, I pulled her aside again and talked it through again. The thing about little tots is that sometimes it just takes a bit more coaxing to open up. And, hey, I said if she wasn’t up for it, we could head back home.

Nope, she wanted to try again, which we did. This time she didn’t hide behind me, I held her basket for her, and she slowly walked forward for a treat.

Then she was hooked.

As we continued down the street she started speaking for herself and began offering a quiet “tanks” after receiving a treat. And as she became more comfortable I reminded her that taking a treat before being acknowledged wasn’t polite, not to grab, and that saying thank you was a must. While we walked through town, I loved seeing her opening up, feeling more comfortable, and understanding the give-and-take of the whole thing.

After making our way up and back I was exhausted, our tot had a glazed look in her eye, and we were all ready to go home and enjoy a few treats.

If you’re heading out for a night of trick-or-treating fun with your tot for the first time it’s a good idea to prep your child before the adventure so she has a basic idea of what’s going to happen. Reading a Halloween trick-or-treating book helps, as well as explaining that talking to strangers in this situation is okay. Along with begin lots of fun, trick-or-treating is actually a great way to encourage your child’s language and communication skills, and get a handle taking turns.

Understand that your tot may not be into it and don’t force it. We really wanted to have a great time trick-or-treating with our daughter, but we exchanged “that look” the second time she started freaking out, understanding that we might have to grab her and go if her behavior didn’t change. The last thing you want is for your tot to have unhappy memories about Halloween adventures.

Set limits before hand on how much candy your child gets to eat after trick-or-treating. Our tot wanted to sit down on the sidewalk and eat her candies the minute after they landed in her basket, but we reminded her we were going to keep walking, enjoying our Halloween adventure, and at home we’d have two of her trick or treat candies.

And, amazingly, we did.

Happy Halloween!


Date night FAIL

Last night the husband and I procured a babysitter, drove off to one of our favorite new spots in the area for dinner and a concert. The tot was happy sitting in front of a movie, our crazy-cool baby-sitter brought over her awesome rescue kitten to visit, and we were ready for a night out. We arrived at the restaurant, ordered drinks and dinner, and tried to decompress.

You know how it goes, right?

We found things to talk about, texted to let our sitter know we had arrived, didn’t freak because she didn’t text us back right away, ate, found something to talk about, texted our sitter again, and finished our drinks.

Did I mention this was the first time we were leaving the tot with anyone other than my parents (who don’t live in the area) at night? Yeah, we’ve left the tot with our sitter during the afternoons before to slip out for a movie or hitting the driving range, but this was a big first for us.

We were a bit nervous and twitchy.

So, after dinner, we headed into the concert. We were a handful of the first let in and secured front row spots, literally standing under where Chris Robinson would be rocking out in less than a half an hour.

I like Chris Robinson.

I got another drink for myself and one for the husband and we were feeling pretty good.

Then we got a text.

Sitter: Oh no there was an explosion and the power went out.


I frantically called the sitter. She was cheerfully trying to find candles, flashlights, matches, anything. I was trying to figure out if the explosion happened IN OUR HOUSE.

Nope. Someone had run into a pole just down the street knocking out power for pretty much all of our area.

We hung up and our neighbor called to see how we were doing. We told him we were out for a date night and asked him to check in on our sitter. He laughed.

I knew we had to leave.

But we held out for a couple more minutes while hoping and hoping the band would start so we could catch ONE song before leaving.


As darkness fell upon the land, we headed out and started the commute home that should’ve taken only a few minutes.

After 45-minutes we arrived home to a very dark house streaked with flashlight beams, a laughing tot, and a smiling sitter.

And I went about lighting as many candles in the house as possible. Instead of spending a few hours rocking out 2-feet from Chris Robinson, the husband and I spent the next few hours talking and talking by candle light.

Not a total date night fail after all.


Are you ready for some sangria?!

*I was not paid for this post, just provided with a bottle of sangria for tasting.

There’s no other way to say this — it’s been really hot here. We’re talking in the 90’s-can’t even go outside-don’t want to cook or do anything- kind of hot. I’ve been trying to stay cool in the yard with the tot and my laptop getting work done while she stumbles about in a swim suit spraying herself with the hose. So when this box showed up on my doorstep containing a vibrant bottle of sangria, I had a hard time waiting for the appropriate time of day to crack it open.

Just a reminder, I wasn’t paid for this post — just provided with a lovely bottle to taste test and then share my opinion. Eppa SuperFruit Sangria is a blend of real fruits, including blueberries, pomegranate, blood orange, and acai resulting in a wine that contains twice the amount of healthy antioxidants than a regular ol’ glass of red wine and only 120 per serving for about $12 a bottle.

And this sangria is certified organic.

The base is a Mendocino Cabernet and Syrah, made  just north of me, and creates the perfect compliment to the sweet fruits. As soon as I opened the bottle, I knew the wine was going to be tasty and wonderfully fruity. The bottle told me to pour over ice and enjoy with a slice of fresh fruit. Well, thanks, I will!

After my first sampling, the undercurrents of the wine was lovely with a fruity finish. Because the wine is combined with real, organic super fruit juice, the result is quite a treat, and definitely on the sweet side. I decided to use the sangria as the base for a lovely spritzer and topped my glass with a good shot of sparkling mineral water and a big slice of lemon.


This sangria would be perfect at any picnic or gathering — or for a fun night hanging with the ladies. And it would also be a great base for making tasty cocktails any time of year. Here’s another cocktail suggestion from Shape. Wondering where to pick up a bottle? Whole Foods carries the wine, but if you don’t have one near you, check out their store locator to find a bottle near you.

Scented fall leaf lovelies

There’s nothing like the smell of fall, with its rich earthy smell of fallen leaves, a waft of something good baking  from someone’s kitchen, and the scent of cooler air. We are smack-dab in the beginning of our Northern California fall, which usually means some of the nicest weather we’ve seen all summer. With temperatures wonderfully in the upper 80’s — or even hotter, it sure doesn’t seem like autumn at all.

To get in the spirit the tot and I rolled out some scented dough for making fall leaves that will fill even a hot house with the smells of fall. And by using fallen leaves from around the house to create the indentions, these fall leaf lovelies look wonderful hanging in a window or anywhere in your home.


1/2 cup cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1/4 cup glue

3/4 cup applesauce


It’s as simple as mixing all the ingredients together. And even though you think they won’t form a dough, sure enough one forms. Cover and let rest in your fridge before rolling.

I rolled mine on one of the placemats I made the other day that have also turned into awesome project mats. If you don’t have a placemat, rolling on a length of parchment paper on your kitchen counter works wonderfully too. Go ahead and sprinkle the dough with flour if it seems too sticky. I covered my heavenly scented dough with a layer of plastic wrap and then rolled until about 1/4 inch thick. If you’ve got a tot that’s handy with a roller, she can help create a nice, level round.

Then we placed our leaves all over the place and rolled over the top. After removing the leaves, I used a big craft needle to trace around the edges and pop a hole at one end. Older kids can use a sharp pencil or the craft needle (with adult supervision) to do this step. Don’t worry about peeling the leaves from the placemat, just find a nice spot for them to dry out where they won’t be poked and squished by little fingers.

(OH – and these are NOT cookies. I had a bit of an issue explaining that to the tot, which was the only downfall of making these with a three-year-old.)

Let the leaves hang out overnight or place in the sun until they are dry. Now you can peel from the placemat and string with a length of colorful ribbon or string. Find the perfect spot for your scented fall leaf lovelies and enjoy the smell of autumn.


Picnic under the Golden Gate Bridge

Today was awesome. We hit our local farmers market, splurged on goodies, and decided to head out for a picnic. Our plans were to meander around Muir Woods and then enjoy a picnic at Muir Beach, or on the lawn at the Pelican Inn, but we totally spaced on the fact that it is LABOR DAY WEEKEND, which means everyone in the area has plans to do the same thing. So, after a long drive (that should have only taken minutes), we decided to turn tail and head to another spot and see what might happen.

Tucked under the Golden Gate Bridge next to the Discovery Museum (which is also awesome!) is a marina and pier surrounding Fort Baker. We snagged one of the very few picnic tables and enjoyed eating all our goodies while waiting for the bridge to pop through the rolling fog. After a leisurely lunch we strolled the pier to see if anyone had snagged some crabs or tasty fish.

There’s no fee to check this area out and, if you’re brave, you can stroll along the bike path all the way up to the bridge and then walk the span. This is a popular area for tourists that rent bikes, so be ready to battle for walking space. But the views are spectacular, and if you’re coming from north of San Francisco, it’s basically free.

*I’d love to take credit for these pictures but I actually only took the first one, but my husband took the rest.


Gary Sinise Foundation and Tunnel to Towers Stephen Sillers Foundation Fundraiser

A friend of mine asked me to share this information with you about a great way to give back to those that have given for us. I don’t often get up on my soapbox about stuff, but this is a cause I am standing behind. It’s not about politics, religion, or really anything other than those that are deserving – and might not be able to help themselves due to other reasons.

Take a look at this short video sharing how you can help out injured military personnel throughout the country by building better housing for them. Together, the Gary Sinise Foundation and Tunnel to Towers Stephen Sillers Foundation, are working towards raising monies for this purpose through a benefit concert event on July 27th.

Remember, every bit counts.

If you are interested in donating, please email my friend Victoria directly at: Thanks so much – it really means a lot!

Or, if you are in the Jefferson City, Missouri area, purchase tickets for the event on July 27th – all proceeds go to the foundation!

*p.s. I wasn’t compensated for this post – just wanted to share.