Monday, November 25, 2013

Napa: no kids allowed

While Charlotte was off enjoying trips to the pumpkin patch with Nana, Matt and I went to Napa (technically St Helena) for our very first weekend away! I can't believe it took us almost 14 months to finally get  in an adults only trip, but that's ok. It was worth the wait. And for a good occasion: our 5 year anniversary! 

we made it!

Since we were a little early to check in to our B&B, we decided to check out a few wineries. First stop: Menaga a Trois. I love their wine! They had a few other Napa labels we got to try, all really good. We walked out of there with a bottle. Then we stopped at Matt's choice: Robert Mondavi.

So, random fact: my great grandfather went to school with Robert Mondavi. And my family sold them grapes for many many years. My great grandparents had almond orchards and vineyards in Lodi, CA and a lot of the wineries get grapes from there! Super cool!

This was also one of our favorite places we stopped. The lady that was helping us was so nice and the grounds were impeccable. Of course we got lucky with great weather too! 

Our last stop before heading to the B&B was Domaine Chandon. I really wanted to try some champagne, but that was not a good idea. Eating and then trying sparkling wine = tummy ache. Never again. Beautiful place though, good champagne, but did not mix with lunch. haha.

And finally we made it to our room at The Wine Country Inn! We had a huge room, complete with a fireplace, jetted tub, and patio! Love Love Love this place!

I think we would have been happy just staying in the room and relaxing for two whole days! But there were so many wonderful wineries and restaurants we had to check out!

out to dinner at French Blue
MMMMmmm good! And after dinner we walked a few blocks to have a drink at a bar that used to be a speakeasy. Then our B&B sent over a van to pick us up. Talk about great service!

We spent the entire second day doing pretty much the same thing: wine tasting. What else?! First up was the biggest tourist trap ever: Castello di Amorosa. Beautiful. ok wine. ripoff. 

What this picture doesn't show: the MEAN geese off to our right about ready to attack us!! We got away, thankfully, but some other guy got his pant leg chewed up. haha
view from the top. best spot.

taking picture past the designated space. haha oops!
the underground tasting room!
Then we stopped at Beringer. Really good wine. I of course fell in love with one of the pricier bottles, which Matt secretly bought and presented to me while we were out listening to music in the garden. Awww. :)

We actually liked this place so much we did two tastings. One in the main room and one in the reserve room (right behind Matt). Needless to say, lunch was next. haha.

And our final stop was a treat for Matt, Prager winery. They specialize in ports, which he loves. 

out to dinner at Market. mmm fried chicken!
And on the morning of our departure I got up extra early, grabbed some coffee and watched the sunrise. It was cold, but beautiful.

We had a wonderful little trip away celebrating our anniversary. There are so many amazing wineries in that area, we wish we could have stayed for a whole week. Plus we brought our bikes and were hoping to ride to some of them but that never happened. Oh well. And the food. Wow. Could not have a bad meal in St Helena if you tried. Every single restaurant was unbelievably good. And not outrageously priced. 

Of course we missed our munchkin like crazy, but did you see her post? She barely even thought about us. Haha, maybe that means we can sneak away again sometime in the not-too-distant future! 

Note for Military families: we got almost all our tastings for FREE! If they weren't free it was buy one get one and sometimes even % off purchases. Make sure you ask if places offer a military discount if you happen to be out and about in the Napa area tasting wine!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

weekend at Nana's

Two weeks ago I got to spend two WHOLE days with my Nana. It all started when I went down for a nap like any other day, and when I woke up, my parents were gone. Gone I tell you. I looked around for them, I even checked the dog bowl in the kitchen twice, but they were nowhere to be found. I was a little concerned, but once I saw Harley was with me at Nana's, I was sure they would eventually come back. They wouldn't leave both their kiddos. And once I stopped worrying, I started having fun. Lots and lots of fun!

We spent lots of time exploring the house, playing with toys, and chasing the kitty. And we went to the local pumpkin patch both days!

my cousin Hannah and me
Hannah with her Mommy and brother Nathan

First up was looking for just the right pumpkin. Note: picking the right one can take time….

that one

no wait, that one

let me circle this one and check it out


After finding the perfect pumpkin, I saw these large dogs in a giant cage. Other kids were riding on them so I asked Nana if I could too. She said they were "ponies", whatever, they were totally big dogs.

see, what did I tell you, dogs.

how do I look? totally professional.

cousin Hannah rode one too

Then we walked over to this other caged area and petted some more dogs. These dogs had horns. Weird. 

why hello there. May I pet you?                                    Your fur is really rough. Use conditioner bro.

you like water too? I LOVE it!! Let me have that bucket.

We tried to take a "cousins" picture, but after being put into a headlock, I was over that. I'm pretty sure they said "hug Charlotte" not "choke Charlotte". Misunderstanding? Hmmmm.

yuk! That doesn't taste yummy

And look what I found on our way out….pumpkins fit for a pumpkin like me.

It was such a wonderful day. And by the time we got home I was parched. Good thing Nana keeps this big bowl of water on the floor for all of us. I drink right from the fountain.

Day two at the pumpkin patch. If it ain't broke…

petting those dogs with horns.                                                 You. Are. A. Dog

did we not speak about using conditioner? Eh. Ok I will pet you.

And here is a kiss too. 

what??? You don't kiss dogs?? 

I'm just going to sit on the one I want. Yes, this will due.
me and my Nana!! 

I'm taking this popcorn and getting the heck outta here!

I had a super duper awesome time at Nana's house. Nana is wonderful and I love her so much! It was a fun weekend and I didn't think about my Mommy or Daddy once. In fact, when they finally decided to show up I was shocked to see them. I was perfectly happy with Nana. Well, I did miss the boobie. Oh OK….I missed Mommy and Daddy too. Twist a girl's arm why don't you. :)


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

veterans day roundup

For all the military families out there, I wanted to put together a list of freebies that will be offered on veterans day this year. The last two years Matt has been deployed and we were unable to go to any of these places, but hopefully we will check some out this year. 

THANK YOU to all who served and are currently serving in our armed forces! Freedom is not free!! And a special thanks to all the spouses out there who love and support our ladies and gents in uniform!!

JCPenney is giving military and their family members an extra 20% off purchases November 6-11. Click on that link to get the coupon. 

And I saw today that Starbucks is giving away a free tall coffee to veterans, active duty, and spouses!  

  • Applebee’s: Veterans and active duty military receive a FREE signature entrée.
  • Bar Louie: FREE meal (up to $12) on November 10 or 11.
  • California Pizza Kitchen: Veterans and active duty military get a FREE pizza at participating locations.
  • Car Wash: Veterans and service personnel get a FREE car wash.
  • Carraba’sFREE appetizer for veterans and active military.
  • Champps AmericanaFREE handcrafted burger and waffle fries.
  • Cheeseburger in ParadiseFREE All-American burger with fries. (Valid with any beverage purchase of $1.99 or more.)
  • Chili’s: Choose from eight entrees or a lunch combo.
  • Denny’sFREE all-you-can-eat pancakes from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Einstein Bros. BagelsFREE signature or classic bagel with shmear.
  • Golden Corral: Golden Corral’s annual Military Appreciation Dinner from 4pm to 9pm. Get a FREE meal.
  • Great ClipsFREE haircut for veterans and active duty military. If you don’t need a haircut, stop by and pick up a card good for a free haircut through December 31.
  • Hooters: Veterans and active duty military get a FREE meal.
  • IKEAFREE sandwich, hot dish or entreé salad from November 9 to 11.
  • Krispy KremeFREE doughnut and coffee for veterans.
  • Little Caesars: FREE order of Crazy Bread.
  • LongHorn SteakhouseFREE Texas Tonion appetizer and non-alcohol beverage from November 11 to 14.
  • Max & Erma’s: FREE Best Cheeseburger in America Combo — includes choice of soup or salad and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie.
  • McCormick & Schmick’s: Veterans are offered a FREE meal, from a choice of 10 entrées, on November 10.
  • Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt: FREE 6-oz. frozen yogurt.
  • National Parks: From November 9 to November 11, National Parks are FREEfor everyone, so this might be a good time for a road trip.
  • Olive Garden: Veterans and active duty military get a FREE meal. Family dining with them receives 10% off.
  • On The Border: Veterans and active duty military receive a FREE “Create Your Own Combo menu,” featuring more than 150 possible dinner combinations.
  • Outback SteakhouseFREE Bloomin’ Onion and drink for veterans.
  • Red Robin: Red Robin is giving away one FREE Tavern Double Burger to each veteran or active duty guest.
  • Red LobsterFREE appetizer from list of 10 options from November 11 to 14.
  • Shoney’s: FREE All-American burger.
  • Sizzler: FREE lunch through 4 p.m. Veterans can choose 6-ounce Tri Tip Steak, single Malibu Chicken or half-dozen fried shrimp entrée with choice of side dish.
  • Sports Clips: Many locations of Sports Clips will offer FREE haircuts to veterans and active military members. Call ahead to ensure your location is participating.
  • Texas RoadhouseFREE lunch for all veterans (active, retired or former U.S. military) — choose from 10 entrees, including your choice of any Coca-Cola product, sweet tea/ice tea or coffee.
  • Texas Steakhouse & Saloon: Vets get a buy-one-get-one FREE entrée.
  • TGI FridaysFREE lunch for veterans.
  • Twin Peaks: FREE meal of your choice.
  • Village Inn: FREE breakfast, with a choice of buttermilk pancakes, a Belgian waffle or French Toast.
I pulled that list from living on the cheap, but make sure to double check that the business is offering the deal this year. 

I will update this throughout the weekend if I hear about any more deals. And if you know any, feel free to leave a note or shoot me an email!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

mommy confessions: breastfeeding

random person: "How old is Charlotte now?"
me: "Almost 14 months"
random person: "OH. So, when are you going to stop breastfeeding????"

This is a conversation I, unfortunately, have often. And as I began to answer I get nervous, because I have no idea if this person is pro breastfeeding a child over 12 months or not. I get worried about their reaction, even though it isn't any of their business. Our pediatrician and the World Health Organization (and UNICEF and LLL and AAP) recommends breastfeeding long after the one year mark. Haven't we all heard the saying, "breast is best".....that's because it is.  From the moment you become pregnant people are constantly telling you to breastfeed. There is a big market in consultants to help you get that perfect latch once the baby arrives. Why? Because it's challenging. And because people make you feel guilty if you don't breastfeed. How dare you even consider giving your child formula! But all of a sudden at the one year mark the tables turn and it's frowned upon to keep it up. (and by then you have it down to a science!) What gives? Breastfeeding provides so many benefits to both Charlotte and I. Not to mention it contributes to her health, intellectual development, and social development, and not just for the first either!!  

So why oh why once Charlotte turned one I was constantly getting the third degree over continuing to breastfeed her. Especially from family. I feel like I need to defend myself all the time. Hello, can I have a lawyer present please??? Or maybe just my pediatrician!! I know, I know, I shouldn't care what other people think or say....and I can pretend that I don't, but we all hate to be silently judged and critiqued.

So to answer that random person, YES I still breastfeed my 13 month old, and (cringe) I don't know when I plan to stop.  She loves the boobie and just can't get enough of it. I hear at some point the child will self wean, and if so, that day hasn't happened for us yet. Do I wish we could reduce the breastfeeding? Yes of course. But only because she uses me as a buffet!! Pulling on my shirt and getting upset if I don't oblige. Designated meal times would be so much more acceptable, or at least convenient. And now that she is night weaned I may try and set up some more boundaries so that eventually, when she and I are ready, we can cut down the feedings and eventually drop them all together. 

As inconvenient as it can be at times, I am grateful I am able to breastfeed her at all. If I had to go back to work I would have weaned her and switched to formula a while ago. Pumping is HARD work!! Thankfully, because I'm a SAHM, I can continue to feed her on demand as long as we choose

But until that time comes, stop asking! It won't last forever. And hey, IT'S FREE!!!!!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just Jack

Last week we had to say goodbye to a very special family member.....our wonderful golden retriever Jack. It was shocking to have to let him go so soon. Nobody was prepared for it. Just two months ago he was fine. In good health. No issues. And then all of a sudden his vision started to deteriorate. He had high blood pressure, but no other problems. They tried to get the blood pressure under control but it didn't help with the blindness. And then he just started getting worse and worse. By the end he was barely able to stand and didn't seem to know who we were. He couldn't enjoy life anymore. He wasn't able to play in the water and chase tennis balls, two of his favorite things. So it was time to let him go to heaven where there was a pile of tennis balls and a few other fur family members waiting for him. 

I put together this little video, including some pictures and videos I had of Jack. I was having a hard time expressing my sadness and loss of him in words, and this seemed to work better. I was a soppy mess putting this together, so sorry if it makes you cry too.

11 years just wasn't long enough Jack. We miss you every single day. We love you sweet boy! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

well that sure was an adventure for the books

For our next move, most likely to the east coast, we plan to rent an RV and drive across the country, checking out a lot of the national parks along the way. We want to make a little family vacation out of it. But before we fully commit, make reservations, and the whole nine yards, we wanted to have a little trial run. Matt had never been in an RV, only a trailer, and needed practice driving one of these beasts. Plus I really wanted to take him to my favorite campsite as a kid: Bridgeport. So during his week long break in September we took our very first RV trip and went "camping". Grandma and Rachel joined in on the fun too. And as great as it was spending time with family in the outdoors, anything and everything that could have gone wrong with the RV did.

We picked up the RV on Saturday in Dublin at El Monte RV. It was pouring down rain. Not the ideal situation. Especially driving. Thankfully we had Rachel do the driving since she had experience driving big rigs like this. After getting it back to Stockton it was time to load it up with all our stuff and get on the road asap. That was not easy. It took forever and the rain was no help at all. We wanted to leave the area by 2pm but didn't leave til almost 5! We were hoping to get to Carson City, our first stop, before dark but unfortunately that wasn't going to happen. So we just tried to enjoy the ride. About half way to Carson City Matt took over the driving. I'm glad I wasn't sitting up front because it was dark, we were on a winding road, and it was snowing!!!! Thankfully we arrived safely, pulled in the RV and settled in for the night. 

the RV

setting up all the electrical and hoses

mmmm rocks
After breakfast we got on the road. We didn't want to spend any extra time in a concrete campsite than we had to. On our way out of town we stopped by my Grandparent's old house. The views were unbelievable. Wish they still had this beauty. 

Matt driving

After a quick lunch we were off and on our way to Bridgeport!! We used to go camping here every single year when I was growing up. We used to "camp" in my grandparents RV, play outside and enjoy ice creams in town. I have a lot of good memories and I was so excited to take Charlotte here and share it with her. And Matt too. :)

our campsite

the creek

taking a little hike

the deer

pointing at the deer behind daddy

we have a visitor!
 Every night the deer would come into the campsite and get carrots and apples from the people. They would take them right out of your hand if you let them. We watched from afar. Ticks. Parasites. Diseases. Yucky no thanks.

On our second day there we loaded up the RV and took a short little drive to Twin Lakes. My Mom and her family used to go camping here when she was little and they had some great hiking we wanted to check out. Grandma, Rachel, and Harley stayed in the RV while Matt, Charlotte and I went on a little adventure.

look who's driving!!

the lake


passed out
After two night in Bridgeport we were due to check out and be on our way to Yosemite for two nights. The morning we were supposed to leave we could not get the leveling jacks to come up. Apparently a cup of water spilled on the equipment and caused it to short circuit. We tried to dry it out with a blow dryer only to blow all the fuses in the the RV. We finally got it up and running but it didn't work. So we had to call El Monte RV and ask for help. They called and called and tried to get someone to come out and fix it. The only guy they could find had to drive from Tahoe so he couldn't get there until the next day. Bummer. They only good thing: at least we were in a beautiful spot with full hookups! There are a lot worse spots to be stranded. 

beautiful day

taking a walk

the lodge
goodbye Bridgeport!

24 hours and $400 later the jacks were up and we were on our way to Yosemite. Even though it looked like there was a crazy storm over the pass, we made it through without any issues. I really wish we could have stayed in Yosemite for an extra night. It was so beautiful there. And it wasn't crowded at all! Maybe thats because we were there on the very last day of the season. haha. But it was nice. Matt and I went to a group campfire and a really nice hike through Tuolumne meadows. 

And Charlotte got to walk around outside a lot!! All bundled up and enjoying the outdoors!

We drove through all of Yosemite on our way home and enjoyed the beautiful scenery....until we got to the part burned by the fires. Sad. We spent our last night with the RV in Rachel's front yard in Stockton. Classy, I know. But since we had to get it back early in the morning, and we didn't want to leave Yosemite at the butt crack of dawn, that's how it had to be. 

The next morning we unloaded and tidied up the RV in a hurry. And as we went to pull in the slides......they wouldn't come in. Apparently the headlights had been left on and the generator was dead. The RV started up no problem, but you can't drive down the road with the slides out. Thankfully Rachel was able to jump start the generator and we got them in. At the very last minute. We were on a tight schedule and needed to have the RV back by 11am. We cut it close. 

It seemed that everything that could have gone wrong did.....we also spent an entire day trying to figure out the DVD player (poor instructions), a drawer broke, the toilet got backed up....twice, and we may or may not have taken out the satellite dish when we drove under a low hanging tree. But apparently Rachel is a jack-of-all-trades because she managed to fix almost every single issue....including the potty. Thank god because I sure didn't want to deal with that! And somehow we all made it out alive, and are now certified RV professionals.