Welcome to toast & cereal

This is the website of Joe, Jess, and Viola. It's about our favorite breakfast foods (toast for Joe; cereal for Jess), our adventures in Tacoma, and just about anything else that we feel like writing about. If you are looking for Jess' View From The Hilltop blog, all of the old posts are now imported and available here (on this website - minus some of the pictures ...for now).

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Baby boy on his way!

As most of you know, we are expecting a baby boy in mid-July. Though we don't need much, we've created a little list of things that would be nice to have as we prepare to welcome our new little one.


The Moon Learned to Walk

We made a moon costume for Viola this year, since the moon is one of her favorite things. She loves to ask what kind of moon is out ("is it a crescent moon tonight, mama?") and gaze at the full moon when she should be sleeping ("are the clouds fuzzy?", "mama, you have moonlight on you!").

A punching balloon turned out to be just the right size to use as the base for our papier-mâché. The whole family participated in painting on the craters.


To get ourselves in the spirit, we got some Dia de los Muertos books from the library and went to a festival at Tacoma Art Museum where we saw some real Mexican papier-mâché and decorated some sugar skulls.



Of course we also carved a pumpkin. Viola drew the face, saying, "he has so many noses!" Joe did most of the carving, but Viola punched some of the nose holes with a screw driver.



When the day came, we hurried home on an early bus to have enough time for trick-or-treating before it got dark. Viola was excited to put on her costume but there wasn't much time to get her to pose for a nice picture.


We made a little display with our sugar skulls and some candles. Joe quickly altered her Easter basket with a bat silhouette. And we were off for our first trick-or-treating!


Viola was unsure at first, especially since the first house we visited had a super scary display of moving skulls, coffins, and spiders on the porch. She tried to run away but her costume prevented her from moving quickly down any stairs. I caught it all on video, which I'll upload later. After that, though, she got into saying "trick or treat!" and especially into receiving candy. Once she got her groove in walking with the cumbersome costume, she kept saying "the moon learned to walk!" and otherwise using the third person to narrate her movements in character.

We ran into other groups of trick-or-treaters, most of whom said "look, it's a moon!" (Some others said "uh, a snowball?") We traversed our block, not even crossing any streets, and then decided it was time to go back home and hand out candy. Viola felt otherwise, but we finally convinced her.


When we got home Viola had a great time eating candy, which she hardly ever gets to eat. We had made the amateur parenting mistake of not feeding her dinner first, so we had to incorporate M&Ms into our soup and crackers. ("I call them emma-ems, mama.")


Viola was not interested at all in handing out candy, but as usual we had plenty of trick-or-treaters. After dinner Clark came over, and there was a moment of synchronicity between the robot and the moon. The moon was still mostly interested in candy, however.



"I'm Happy Easter"

That was Viola's catchphrase during this year's Easter celebrations, which spanned an entire weekend. On Saturday we enjoyed one of the first sunny days of the year with Joe's family, including his young cousins, whom Viola adores (and I think the feeling is mutual). We played with some hula hoops, rolling them down the hill. hulahoopssm.jpg

There was a special egg-hunt for the little kids. egghunt2sm.jpg Though the eggs were hidden in plain sight, Viola had lots of help from her entourage. egghunt3sm.jpg Afterward, McCallee and Abby helped her open her eggs, and devour her first jelly beans. jellybeans1sm.jpg Then there was a big-kids egg hunt, and it was Viola's turn to help out. egghunt4sm.jpg Of course, she helped them eat their jelly beans too. jellybeans2sm.jpg Now, when Viola looks at these pictures with me, she says "She has so much jelly beans in her mouth. I want her spit them out." jellybeans3sm.jpg To cap off the festivities, Judie hid the last egg, but no one took her up on hunting for it. judiesm.jpg The next morning the Easter Bunny left Viola a basket and hid some eggs around the house. In keeping with my family's tradition, she got some new underwear (though she still has to wear them over a diaper -- we're getting there!). And, of course, more jelly beans. She was so "happy Easter" that we had to put jelly beans in her cereal to get her to eat breakfast. (I know there are pictures somewhere of Easter morning; I'll add some when I find them.)

Photos by V

Viola loves to grab the camera from us and take pictures. Lately she has managed to capture some images with discernable subject matter. I find them quite delightful. I know what you really want to see right now is Easter pictures, but I'm giving you this instead.

Here I am in the yard, while we were shooting bubbles from the bubble gun. Look at what a giant I am to her!


She started acting like an art director, telling me to shoot the bubble gun right at the camera.


Here's some bubbles in the grass.


A handful of self-portraits.




And a recent party we attended.




We've learned a new emotion from Snoopy: surprised.


Usually this is followed by being really surprised (emphasized by rice and beans remnants around the mouth).


This is then followed by being happy:



Parts of speech

I've been entertained lately by the way Viola makes words into different parts of speech.

"I got ponytailed!"

"They're goodnighting."

"It's too slicey."

"It's summer in my eyes"


Grandma's visit

Last month Joe had to leave town for ten days for work. (It was another one of those Caribbean cruise deals). As soon as he left, Viola developed a fever from double ear infections that had likely been brewing for some time. We made it through the weekend together by busying ourselves seeing lots of generous friends who had us over for dinners and play-dates (thanks friends!) On Monday I developed a fever from a sinus infection as well, but went to work because Viola's daycare is too far from our house to just drop her off. My mom was scheduled to come on Tuesday, so we powered through some bad single-parent dinners and unintentionally late bedtimes with that light at the end of our tunnel. Then a huge blizzard hit the Midwest and my mom's flight was canceled, but she finally made it out on Thursday, and we had a great, if brief, visit.

Viola had lots of fun showing Grandma her battery-powered bubble shooter.

We also went to the beach for a very Northwesty winter visit and watched the Packers win the Superbowl (yeah!). Grandma got to go to daycare for a half day with Viola, and observed her in her natural environment doing "potty jobs," playing dress-up, and driving cars around in the gym.


Hooray for Grandma visits. And hooray, Joe is back in town with no plans to leave again soon. Now, if we could only shake those ear infections...



In November Viola started riding the bus with me to work three days a week, so she could attend a daycare in Seattle near my office. Our ride is about an hour each way. As you might imagine, the bus now figures largely in her make-believe and story-telling. A few weeks ago we checked out Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus from the library, which was an instant hit, both with her and with the grownups of the household.

Here's Viola remixing the title of the book:

Many times when we're waiting for the bus in the dark and cold, I can get a smile from her by asking if a pigeon is going to be driving our bus. That sets her off, saying, "Here's a bus! There's a pigeon driving!" every time a bus comes and goes. (Despite the urban-ness of our pickup and drop-off locations, however, we only very rarely see real-life pigeons.)

On our first day, waiting at Tacoma Dome Station.

We like to have snacks, read books, and draw during our ride.

She likes to look for Boeing Field or mama's building or tall buildings to point out. Just recently, it's light enough to see outside during our morning ride.


2 Years Old

Hey everyone, Viola turned two about two months ago. Here we are singing happy birthday to her at my parents' house, with her Uncle Adam and Aunt Stephanie:

I'd say she's pretty pleased.

Here's more video from her actual birthday. It was a weeknight but Joe managed to make cupcakes and I threw together some icing (who knew actual frosting took so long to make?).



For no particular reason, we decided to dress Viola up as Bjork in the swan dress this year for Halloween.


Like last year's ninja costume, this was another collaboration between me, Joe, and American Apparel. We started with a white tank dress. Joe sewed and stuffed the neck and beak. I cut feathers out of felt and flannel, and sewed them on one at a time on my 2 hours of bus time per day. Then we put it over the top by cutting apart a white boa and hot-gluing the feathers all over. Viola called it her "Juan dress."


Not a bad resemblance, I must say.


Viola was a good sport about wearing it to my office on Friday (a big hit) and to a party at Clarkie's house yesterday (where there were 2 other birds in attendance as well).


But she wouldn't put the dress on for her grandparents on Friday night, nor would she put it on for her other grandparents who were watching on Skype tonight ("No, no Juan dress.") So we greeted the trick-or-treaters in our regular clothes and still felt festive.

Last weekend we went to a pumpkin carving party. Viola drew the face, which was surprisingly face-like, and Joe executed her design (me too, a little -- I carved the hair with a wood-carving tool).


We got Viola to get close to it for one picture, but after that she won't go near it if it's lighted. I kind of agree with her -- it's a little on the scary side.


Amid all this hoopla, we managed to only let her eat seven Raisinets and one package of Welch's fruit gummies -- a parental achievement, to be sure. In the coming years it will be much harder to stop her from candy over-ingestion as well as Disney princessification. We will try, though.

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