Jason started his new job on Monday and it's been an adjustment for all three of us to figure out a new morning routine.  While waiting for his start date, Jason was a stay at home dad for about a month.  It was wonderful to have him realize that just because you stay at home all day doesn't mean it's a cakewalk.  He has a new appreciation of just how difficult it can be to get everything done while watching a child.

But by staying at home he and Dayne were able to "sleep in" on a daily basis.  Dayne would start babbling around 7 AM and Jason would retrieve him around 7:30.  With Jason's new job however, he & I both need to be up early.  He's getting up around 5 and I'm getting up soon thereafter so I can get myself ready before waking Dayne up to get him ready to go to his grandparent's house for the day.

Monday morning was easier because Jason didn't have to be there until 8.  Tuesday morning I had to go in and wake Dayne which gave me a glimpse to my future teenage boy.  He was dead to the world and when I rubbed his back and said his name he whined and burrowed further into his mattress.  This morning he beat us to the punch, waking us both up with cries around 5 AM.

I rolled out of bed, made my way upstairs and picked him up from his crib.  I was still rubbing sleep out of my eyes and wishing I could just curl back up in bed for another hour.  As soon as Dayne hit my chest he grabbed my hair, his safety blanket, sucked his thumb and snuggled in.  I sat down in the glider and felt him fall back asleep, safe in moms arms.

I sat there for a while just absorbing the moment, treasuring the weight in my arms, the steady breaths escaping from his nose.  I could be sleeping but this is one moment out of my lifetime that I will never forget.  It was nothing "momentous" or "milestone".  It's not something I'll pull the camera out to record or write down in his baby book.  Instead, it will be one of those moments I pull out from time to time in my memory bank, a time where my son was still small enough to snuggle in my lap, still needed his mommy to feel safe, still wanting the feel of my hair in his balled up fist to reassure him that I was close.

I rocked and rocked, not wanting the moment to end, wanting to stay there with him until the sun finally peeked over the horizon and he woke up because he wanted to wake up.

He'll be nine months old tomorrow.  Time is rushing by me in a blur.  It seems like yesterday I held him for the first time, marveling at every feature.  Today he's a speed crawler, cruising the furniture and throwing tantrums when he doesn't get his way.  One day he'll walk, then talk, then run.  One day I'll send him to school for the first time, one day he'll come home and shyly tell me about a girl he likes.  One day he'll graduate high school and then be off in the world on his own, making his own path, living his own dreams.  One day.

But today, this morning, that moment - he was my little boy, my baby, my love.   
It's never too early to start the education process with your kids!  Even at 9 months old, I'm starting with Dayne.  We go over colors, shapes, numbers, letters and animals among other things.  I was excited to learn about AlphaBeasts, a 15” doublesided learning companion ‘beasts’ with an upper case alphabet letter residing on one side of the doll, and a lower case character in contrasting color residing on the opposite side. Each Alphabeast has a distinctive design characteristic and physical attribute that makes them different from one another.


I was sent the "Dadildoit" AKA the "D" AlphaBeast for Dayne.

Actions speak louder than words to this beast. Dadildoit, best friend of Intooit, is always focused on getting things done. With the amazing ability to breathe fire, this beast is always helpful with projects, or then again, you might want to stand back if he becomes frustrated. Get the water hoses ready!
I wasn't sure how interested he would be in it just yet but the bright colors and the super soft velveteen shell caught his attention quickly.  I was impressed with the quality as well, the eyes & the teeth are both solid thread, the mouth itself is felt and the letter is fleece.

“Creating a oneofakind children’s toy line such as Alphabeasts that promotes learning through fun has been a passion of ours for some time now,” said Alphabeasts spokeswoman Kristin Ferguson. “It’s exciting to see them on display in homes, children toting around their favorite characters and people using them as a learning tool for their children.”

“We’ve created a better way to teach children how to spell,” added Alphabeasts spokeswoman Shylo Kline. “Instead of relying on basic flash cards or image recognition tools, children can now use Alphabeasts as “manipulatives” to properly learn both spelling and phonics through interactive play, which in turn creates a stronger foundation ongoing.”

This is a toy that will grow with Dayne, a toy that doesn't require batteries or make noise.  He's already using it as a pillow when chilling out with us on the floor and grabbing onto it whenever it's near and he needs something to snuggle.
I'm so excited to tell you that AlphaBeasts is gifting one of my readers with their ABC Book Box Set!  See how to enter below!

The 15” plush characters retail for $15.99 each and come with a detachable biographical collector’s card. The Alphabeasts Alphabet Book Box Set, showcasing the ‘beasts’ in multiple creative illustrations, retails for $15.99.

Drawing ends at 12:01 AM on Friday December 16. I’ll draw the winner, via random.org, on Friday December 16. I will send an email to the winner & you will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Please be sure to read the rules!

Use the Rafflecopter form below. If you don't see it - click on the title of this post. Otherwise email me at tarah716[at]ymail.com for instructions on how to enter.


I like spicy food but if you make it too spicy, I'm outta here.  I was sent a few products from Frieda's to try out and review for you guys.  The pine nuts and tomato pesto seemed pretty easy to find a recipe to toss them into.  I was also sent dried chipotle chiles.  I have to admit, I was stumped.  I don't really cook with chiles a lot.  So I put them off to the side and tested out the pine nuts first by making my dish to pass this Thanksgiving, Green Beans with Brown Butter & Pine Nuts.  

It turned out amazing, Frieda's pine nuts are so fresh and tasty!  I was munching on them as I was putting together this recipe.  They offer the perfect amount of crunch and nutty flavor without taking over the dish!  Pine nuts are quite versatile to add texture and flavor to green and pasta salads, tossed into a stir-fry or added to rice and vegetable dishes. The creamy texture and soft flavor are enhanced when toasted. Pine nuts are great in fruit salads or as a quick snack.  

Next I used the Tomato Pesto on a homemade pizza as suggested on Frieda's website.  Oh my GOSH it was an amazing burst of flavor vs the common tomato sauce.  I loved how it gave the pizza a whole new dimension and my friends were asking what I used to add that "flavor they couldn't put their finger on."  It's such an easy way to impress family & friends!

Then there were the dried chipotle chiles.  I pondered and searched and wondered how I would use these things.  I was a little intimidated because they clearly printed on the package to use gloves while handling.  EEK!  But I finally found a recipe that sounded wonderful and included dried chipotle chiles.  The Enchilada Lasagna would be my step out into a new food world, using ingredients that previously seemed off limits.  

I was a little nervous it would be too spicy, but I learned that removing the seeds also removes some of the heat from the chili so this lasagna packed enough of a kick to make it fun but not too much to send Jason & I crying from the table. 

Overall I was very impressed with the quality and the flavor with all the items I was sent from Frieda's.  Their company slogan "We change the way America eats" hit home with me, I love trying new recipes and this product review truly made me look outside the box on what I usually gravitate towards.  I conquered my unnecessary fear of dried chiles and realized with the proper care and handling, they're a wonderful addition to many dishes!

Frieda's offers more than 600 specialty fruits vegetables and companion items to supermarkets, restaurants and distributors.  Frieda's practically invented the specialty produce category and has introduced many once-rare produce items to American tables. Frieda's is the company who introduced the Kiwifruit in 1962, and that was just the beginning. Since then, they've introduced more than 180 specialty and exotic items to produce departments and food service distributors throughout the United States. Shallots, Cherimoyas, Donut® Peaches, Sugar Snap Peas and Habanero Peppers, to name just a few.

Founder Frieda Caplan's story is an inspiration in itself. In a time when few women ran businesses, Frieda pioneered and persevered to succeed in the male-dominated produce industry. Frieda's is the first wholesale produce company in the United States to be founded, owned, and operated by a woman and remains a family-owned and operated business today. Frieda Caplan is Chairman of the Board, while her daughters Karen and Jackie serve as President/CEO and Vice President, respectively.

Try your luck at their Holiday Gourmet giveaway they are running on their Facebook Page as well.  You must like them on Facebook and then participate in one of their posts (Answer a question, post a recipe) to enter to win!

You can find these awesome ingredients and many more on Frieda's website or by checking out a store near you via their website.  


Frieda's is offering one lucky reader a gift bag of their products!  It contains: 
  • Purple Kiwi Cookbook (Signed by Karen Caplan, Author and CEO of Frieda’s) 
  • Green Reusable Bag 
  • Pen & Notepad 
  • Tomato Pesto 
  • Pine Nuts 
  • Crepes 
  • Dried fruit
Drawing ends at 12:01 AM on Tuesday December 13. I’ll draw the winner, via random.org, on Tuesday December 13. I will send an email to the winner & you will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Please be sure to read the rules!

Use the Rafflecopter form below. If you don't see it - click on the title of this post. Otherwise email me at tarah716[at]ymail.com for instructions on how to enter.