Family Photos 2016

As we embark on the next chapter in our lives and my husband spends the next 85 days thousands of miles away training for his new job, this photo session came at such a perfectly fitting time (which was completely unknown to us when we booked them several months ago). Marking the beginning of our new journey, these photos are such a beautiful visual memory to look back on while my husband is away and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

This session was done by the incredibly talented Brit Moss (www.britmoss.com). She was such a sweet and comfortable person to work with and her unique Indie-Boho style is everything that I had been envisioning but couldn’t find for the longest time. We are so in love with these photos and now the real struggle is going to be choosing which ones to display around our home.

Cheers and Happy National Wine day,

The Whine Connoisseur

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A new chapter.

When I met my husband, he was a long haired hippie living pretty much paycheck to paycheck. He took the bus to work at a call center where he would cold call for the sales department of a company in the hospitality industry. I would drive him when I could, but due to conflicting schedules and how far apart our jobs were, 8 times out of 10 he was on his own to get to work. As time went by, he ended up impressing the right people and got hired on directly for the company that he’d been cold calling for. He then had to take the bus even farther across town to their headquarters every day for several months until he could finally afford his own car. He never complained about it… he simply did what he had to do to get where he wanted to be in the professional world. One of the most determined people I have ever known, he worked his way up the totem pole and he hustled day in and day out for several years with that company to provide a good life for our family. Today however, I am proud to announce that he has been hired on as a Senior Sales Executive at an even bigger company, and I could not be more proud of that man.

The last few months have been a total whirlwind for us. Once he was approached with the opportunity, we were torn to say the least. Change is scary, especially when it could effect the entire course of your family’s journey. We were posed with the choice between sticking it out at a company that had provided my husband with an amazing stepping stone into the sales world, and a company that was far more established in the sales world. The choice between a company that my husband was successful at but had honestly outgrown, or a company that we were unfamiliar with but who offered a whole new world of opportunity and advancement.

In making our decision, we looked to respected family and friends for advice and support (thank you all, you know who you are), but we mostly looked to the signs. As we sat back and watched the situation unfold, it could not be mistaken that we were being guided towards the right decision. The decision to leave all that we had known for the last four years. The decision to take a risk. The decision that could get our family ahead by leaps and bounds. So, hearts racing and holding hands…we took a leap of faith.

The transition will not be easy, but it will be worth it. It requires my husband to spend the next three months across the country from us for training. I have been spoiled and lucky in the fact that I have not spent more than a couple of days away from him since our first date, and I certainly wasn’t prepared to start now. But life had other plans and we will try to make the best of it. He will be flying home every so often to check in very briefly and we will be planning a trip for my son and I to visit him mid summer. Additionally, his new job is allowing us to still go on a couple of the small vacations that we had planned out prior to the job offer, and those vacations will probably be our saving grace.

Today I dropped my best friend off at the airport and it was one of the hardest things that I have had to do in our entire relationship. I have shed more tears than I would like to admit and I can guarantee you that I will be drinking a bottle of wine and consuming a pint of ice cream in my sweats tonight once my son is asleep. I mean…I’m totally entitled to at least a couple nights of shamelessly wallowing around in my husband missing sadness, right?

Despite how rough this time apart is sure to be, there is no doubt that we have been blessed with an amazing opportunity, and even in my sadness, I know that the most important emotion to feel right now is gratitude. It is key to remain thankful, and it is key to remember that this distance is only a small period of time in the grand scheme of things. There are sure to be plenty of sad and lonely nights during this time apart, but that’s what Facetime and counting our blessings is for.

In 90 days my husband will return with a ridiculous amount of sales training under his belt, and I will proudly watch him conquer his new territory just as he did the last. In 90 days my husband will be back home, and in 90 days we can officially begin this new and exciting chapter in our life, together.

.5 days down, 89.5 to go…not that I’m counting or anything.

Cheers to changes and opportunity,

The Whine Connoisseur.

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When it all began.

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Newport Beach 2016.

At 3 months old, we took our son to Newport Beach for the first time. I was so excited for him to breathe in the ocean air and listen to the sound of the waves at the same beach that I had spent so many summers at as a child. Being a wee little newborn however, he mostly cried the entire time and we packed up and left about 20 minutes into the whole experience. Sadly, our beach ventures have gone pretty much the same way every time since then, with our son either crying, whining, or trying to run away from us the entire time. This time however, was different. Finally old enough to appreciate all that is Newport Beach, the little dude ran around playing in the sand as happy as could be and has even asked to go to the beach several times since we left.

This trip was a major reminder of how blessed we are to travel so regularly as a family. I think I often get overwhelmed by all that goes into traveling with a young child and I forget to stop and simply be thankful for the experience. With the calmness of this trip, my husband and I were mostly able to sit back and watch as our son happily ran around exploring his surroundings. This kid has experienced places and things that I never could have imagined providing my child with, and I am forever thankful for the opportunities that my husbands job has blessed us with.

We stayed at The Island Hotel Newport Beach and just like our last stay there, it was everything we could have wanted. This time we had a corner ocean view/balcony suite, which was perfect for our family and gave us enough space to not drive each other crazy. The hotel has a beautiful pool with an outdoor bar, is a five minute drive from the beach, has some of the sweetest staff members we’ve ever encountered….And don’t even get me started on the delicious patio breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant-Oak Grill (ordering a round of mimosas is a must).

After a couple days of beach going, swimming at the pool, and walking around fashion island (probably a few too many times), we capped off the trip by visiting a few of my sweet family members in the area, who even babysat Liam so that we could end our trip with a baby-free dinner at one of our favorite spots in Irvine (The Lazy Dog). Our time in Newport had a little bit of everything and was certainly one for the books. It’ll be rough topping such a beautiful trip…but you can sure bet we will try!

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

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24.

If my 24th year of life is as good as the birthday itself, then it’s going to be one for the books. Surrounded by some of the sweetest most thoughtful people, we brought in my birthday with a wine tasting/pairing party, calling the theme “Wine tasting in Napa”. From meats/cheeses and dips to chocolate covered everything and girl scout cookies, we had a plethora of both traditional and slightly unusual pairing options to choose from, all centered around a bohemian inspired decoration spread. Multiple wine glasses were broken throughout the night (precisely why I buy dollar store glasses for parties), so obviously good (and tipsy) times were being had. I woke up the next morning (my actual birthday) and went to a bottomless mimosa brunch downtown with friends, followed by an evening well spent with my family and an absolutely delicious chocolate cheesecake made by my Nona. The weekend was a dream, and I can’t help but feel like one of the luckiest most blessed girls on the planet. Thank you thank you thank you to all that played any part in making it special.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

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Nervous, Excited, and Employed.

When my son was brand new to this world and could barely lift his head, I was there to hold him against my chest and remind him that he would never be alone. When he cried out in hunger in the middle of the night, I was there to feed him until he fell back asleep. When he rolled over for his first time, pulled himself up for the first time, and took his first steps, I was there to cheer him on. I was there when he tried his first bite of solids. I was there when he said his first words. I was there when he learned his colors and when he began fully verbalizing his thoughts. I was there for every single major development my son has ever made because I was blessed enough to be a stay at home mom for the first 2.5 years of his life. It has been beautiful and emotional and amazing and exhausting. But now I must part ways with my stay at home mom title and partially re-enter the working world. The adult world.

You see, as amazing as this valuable time has been, for every minute and day and week and month that have been entirely for my son- there have been just as many minutes and days and weeks and months that have not been for me (which is exactly how it should be and how I wanted it to be, so don’t mistake that as a complaint). I knew what I was getting myself into and embraced my full time job as a stay at home mom with open arms. But as this kid approaches 3, the time has come for me to get out of the house a little more often. My days are spent building train tracks and painting shapes. Potty training and meal making. Cleaning up the same messes repeatedly and trying to convince my toddler to take a nap or not put sticks in his mouth. The most adult interaction that I have in my day is the few hours that I get to talk to my husband between when he gets home from work and when we go to bed. I see my friends maybe a couple times a month and I engage in brief 5 minute conversations with the cashier at trader joes or the fellow moms at the park. I often feel as though I have forgotten how to adult, and the time has come for me to return to a world that speaks in full sentences.

It will not be easy at first. That, I know for sure. The thought of not being there at night to tuck my son into bed makes me want to cry and the fear of not being there in the moments when he just wants his mama makes my heart ache. I’ve spent the last several months talking often about how important it is for me to start getting out of the house a little more… And yet now that it is here and looking me in the eyes, it’s scary.

Change is scary. Being an adult is scary. Re-entering a working world that I have not been a part of for almost three years is scary. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it or that I can’t do it.

So starting this week, I will be working a few days a week at the front desk of a yoga studio in the evenings once my husband gets home from his job. While it’s nothing too major to many, it’s major to me. Now, not only will my time be divided between raising my son, tending my home, being a wife, and earning my college degree… but it will also be spent punching into a time clock. The thought is exhausting and I might hate it. It might stretch me too thin and it might be too hard on my family. But I also might love it. It might fit so well into our schedules that it barely makes a difference and I might meet some great new people while making a little extra side money for my family. The fact is, I won’t know until I give it a try.

So try is exactly what I am going to do. I’m going to try to embrace this opportunity. I’m going to try not to cry the first time that my husband tucks my son into bed without me. I’m going to try to have fun with it and I’m going to try to make it work.Because the fact of the matter is that I can’t teach my son to be the change that he wants to see in his life if I don’t try to do it myself.

As much as I love my boy, I had recently found myself getting increasingly antsy with the need to get out of the house. The need to change things up a little. The need to do something for myself. These needs were making me cranky and probably unenjoyable to be around (I’m sure my husband is nodding his head and chuckling in agreement as he reads this). It was confusing to me because I am so happy to be “Mama” that it took a while for me to understand why I felt it so necessary to get out of the house and not be mama for a little while. But then it dawned on me that I am human and my need for real social interaction is a natural one and that going to work and surrounding myself with adults for a few hours a week does not mean that I love my job as mama any less.

Now, 85% of my week will be spent as mama and 15% of it will be spent as the girl behind the front desk. I am excited. I am nervous. I am thankful. Thankful for the opportunity to get out there and try something new… Thankful for a husband that is being so supportive of this adventure…. and most of all, thankful to have had 2.5 years to be mama 100% of the time. That time was precious and that time is something I would not change for the world. But now it’s time to try something new. Let the adventure begin.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

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Hello 2k16.

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As we head into 2016, my husband and I have done our share of sentimental banter about the year that we just closed out. Going back through photos, the two of us constantly making remarks like “can you believe that was this year??” And “time went by so fast!”. Ultimately, we decided that this year could be summed up as a year of experiences. We were blessed enough to have traveled to Santa Monica and Mammoth several times along with Beverly Hills/LA, Newport Beach, Venice Beach, Park City, and Saint George/Zion. We became so accustomed to traveling that going just weeks between trips would get us feeling restless and our suitcases became permanent fixtures on our bedroom floor. With each trip we became better at traveling as a family and more importantly, with each trip we were able to provide our son with experiences and memories that create such an exceptionally full childhood for him. The kid is 2.5 years old and has already walked through the falling snow of Park City. He’s breathed in the fresh mountain air of Mammoth and swam around the cold waters of June Lake. He’s chased seagulls along the beaches of the Pacific Ocean and seen the beautiful red cliffs of Zion. My husband has provided us with a year of destinations that have added such richness and beauty to my son’s early childhood, and for that, this year has been unlike any other.

When we weren’t traveling, we found ourselves doing what was probably an over the top amount of hosting. From a backyard brunch, to Liam’s second birthday, to super bowl and Halloween and my husbands birthday and Friendsgiving and New Years and our family Christmas (with plenty of wine nights and margarita days in between) our home certainly held its fair share of events. I’d like to think that between the cooking and cleaning and decorating and planning, I must have polished my hosting skills enough to possibly be considered an up and coming Martha Stuart (but I have no intention of landing myself in prison, sorry Martha).

While all of the traveling is incredible and the hosting makes my heart happy, this coming year our goal is to focus on our growth as a family. My husband and I want to continue the ‘get healthy/fit’ journey that we began in 2015 and plan on returning to a clean diet + meal prepping + P90X come Monday. We want to do more activities centered around our son and his development, such as enrolling him in sports and various classes. We want to train our puppy to become the well behaved security dog that German Shepherds are capable of being. We want to put away a good amount of money into our savings account and make financial decisions that will benefit us in the future. In 2016, our focus is family. Our focus is us. Our focus is growth.

2015 was the year that I finally gained my confidence back after losing 30 pounds of baby weight that I carried around for too long. 2015 was the year my little baby turned two. 2015 was the year my husband and I celebrated two years of marriage. 2015 was the year I continued to learn through experience as both a mother and wife. 2015 was a beautiful year full of blessings and good times. I am thankful to have had the experiences I did and to have shared them with my two favorite people in the whole world. I close the 2015 chapter looking back at it fondly, but also looking forward to what the new year will hold for us. Good things are brewing in our household, we have no doubt. It may be the optimism that comes with the start of a new year talking, but I strongly believe 2016 is going to be a good one.

Wishing you and yours all the best in this coming year.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

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Thanks.

To say that the last couple of weeks have been exhausting would be an understatement. Raising a puppy and a toddler at the same time was a much larger task than I had mentally prepared myself for and downtime is currently a thing of the past.  I’ve found myself going full blown embarrassing stress attack mode over things such as: the dog playing too aggressively with my sons favorite/irreplaceable stuffed animals… the dog and my son tumbling each other all over my feet as I’m trying to make dinner… the dog biting holes in about 6 pairs of my son’s socks. All should really just be slightly annoying occurrences throughout my day, and yet each one has just…been…GETTING to me. At one point I even turned to my husband and said “I am confident that this is how people go certifiably insane”. Now you’re probably thinking to yourself “dang, this girl is dramatic”. Welp, I would have to agree with you. And yes, I know I signed up for this the moment I decided to bring a puppy into our home. That being said… each incident built up and up and up and my amount of sleep was less and less and less. NOT a good combination to say the least.

As all of this has been going on, I’ve been so caught up in my stress and exhaustion that I have not once sat down and thought about all that I have to actually be thankful for. I live my life by the motto that you will receive back the positivity and good vibes that you send out into the universe. Every day (usually while doing chores) I take about five minutes to simply think about all that I have to be grateful for and thank our higher power for everything I have been blessed with. So, not having done so in a while, there’s nothing like Thanksgiving to bring me back to earth and slap me in the face with a big ol’ serving of grateful pie (does that even make sense?).

I’m thankful to have a roof over my head, but beyond that, to have such a beautiful roof over my head (although the actual roof itself is covered in pigeon poop usually). I’m thankful for a husband who takes care of me and our son in a way that is beyond the wildest dreams that I could have ever envisioned for my future. I’m thankful for my son, his good health, and his loving spirit. I’m thankful for a fridge that is always full of my favorite foods and a pantry that never runs dry. I’m thankful for the many loving family members that we are surrounded by who love us so incredibly selflessly. I’m thankful for Coffee Bean. I’m thankful for tacos. I’m thankful for wine and cheese, of course. I’m thankful for the many ways in which my husband’s job blesses us, from stability to traveling opportunities. I’m thankful for a functioning vehicle. I’m thankful for my education opportunities (even if this semester has been jam packed full of way too many writing assignments). I’m thankful for Bare Minerals and long baths. I’m thankful for our quality group of caring and often incredibly loud friends. I’m thankful for our pup, no matter how many pairs of socks she decides to destroy. I’m thankful for waking up every day, happy and healthy. I’m thankful for the beautiful life that I have been blessed with.  Very, very thankful. Today, every day, always.

A very happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

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Family Photos 2015

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This year we had our family photos done once again at Calico Basin. At some point (probably next year), we will surely move on to a new location, but for now, Calico Basin 1. Fits all of our photography needs and 2. Is a special place for us since we have been photographed there since our engagement photos several years ago. Mixing things up a little bit this year, we hiked further up into a more ‘desert-y’ looking area… which was not an easy task given the fact that our photographer was 32 weeks pregnant, I was wearing 4 inch heels, and we had a two year old with us. Anyone watching was surely entertained by the show as we all stumbled up/down the nonexistent trail. Liam managed to not only stay still long enough to have his photo taken… but actually schmoozed it up for the camera and seemed to ENJOY being photographed (which is a first and also possibly an act of god). Check out our photo gallery below, taken by the ever so talented Kelsey Anderson.

Two years down, a lifetime to go.

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I’ll be honest… Its hard to talk about my husband or my marriage without feeling as though I’m either bragging or attempting to write a Nicholas Sparks novel. But today is my anniversary and I have officially been married to my husband for two years, so I think on this occasion I’m entitled to a few paragraphs of shameless boasting.

2 years. 730 days. 24 months. Of long walks in the park talking about the future we are building together. Of date nights at the neighborhood bar when the responsibilities of parenting became temporarily overwhelming. Of traveling to destinations that would house some of our most special memories. Of little tiffs that we would later tease each other about. Of growing into adults that we can be proud of.

In these two years of marriage, I’ve learned that communication is always necessary and is the key to never having an issue escalate to the level of being a fight. I’ve learned that compromise can go a long way and that back rubs can mitigate absolutely any negative energy, always. I’ve learned that typically the best strategy to silencing your husband’s annoying song parodies is to sing along… or better yet, to out annoy him. I’ve learned that the small things can often mean the most and that dreaming together is the most effective way of creating your reality.

Most of all, I’ve learned that marriage is easy if loving each other is your biggest priority. I often find articles popping up on my various forms of social media with headlines like “10 things you could be doing better in your marriage!” or “5 things your spouse really wants you to say!”. But the reality is that there is not a magical list and there are no secrets. If loving each other and treating each other with love and respect is your biggest priority, you will never need a cheesy buzzfeed article to steer you in the right direction.

I know we’ve only been married for two years and haven’t yet earned the title of “Marriage Gurus” but what I can say is that I am pretty darn proud of who we are as a married couple. The man playing so happily with our baby in the bathtub right now is my best friend on the entire planet. He knows exactly how I like my breakfast sandwiches and always lets me steal sips of his water when I forget to bring my own glass up to bed. He can sit by the fire pit with me in our backyard for hours and never run out of things to say. He takes me on date nights regularly and no matter how much he hates Target trips, always lets me drag him there for a quality spending spree. He shares my love for cat/dog videos, interior design, and prohibition era tv series (all two of them…). He believes our home should never go without fresh flowers and he is totally just as partially ocd as I am. He thinks my Italian sass is funny and understands that I take my online shopping hobby very seriously. He is one of the smartest most ambitious people I’ve ever known and he protects his family with the fierceness of a giant pack of well trained german shepherds. He is the prince charming of a man that many believe can only be found in fairy tales.

Today makes two years of marriage, with many more to go. Happy Anniversary to the man that made me believe that love at first sight might really be a thing, that soul mates exist, and a bunch of other cheesy things that Disney movies teach you.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

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Camp Liam

With each passing year, I discover more and more that all of those older folk who approached my big pregnant belly saying things like:

“time flies by in the blink of an eye!”

and

“You’ll be sending that kid to college before you know it!”

….they were all right. Just two years ago on this day, I was on my way to the hospital to bring our little guy into the world. Now I sit here trying to throw together a blog post as my toddler runs around the house saying “help me! help me!” about every tiny little obstacle he comes across. My 6.5 pound baby is now capable of putting on his own shoes, verbally communicating what he wants, and riding a scooter across the park… and man is it crazy to watch sometimes.

To celebrate the big T-W-O we threw our little guy a camping themed birthday party, complete with a teepee, ‘Camp Liam” banner, and all of his favorite people. Being the obsessed and slightly overly organized party planner that I am, this party was in the makes for at least 4 months. I have surfed every pinterest board, every etsy deal, and made about 10 lists full of ideas to say the least.

What ultimately brought me to the decision of a camping theme was the over all ease of it. Camping is simple, laid back, and always a good time (unless you’re camping in the actual woods and forget one of your necessities or get attacked by mosquitoes). All we had to do was throw up a camping shade, put out some camping chairs, and fire up the grill and bam… Camp Liam was open for business.
The party took a lot of prepping and planning but was 100% worth it. Liam had a great time, was left with some awesome toys, and was absolutely exhausted by the end of it all…so I would say: mission accomplished.

Tonight we will put our one year old down for bed, and tomorrow we will wake up with a two year old jumping up and down as we attempt to get him ready for his big adventure to the children’s discovery museum. At some point in the day I’m sure that I will stare at my baby’s newborn photos and probably get embarrassingly teary eyed, but ultimately be comforted by my little man will running up to me and giving me a big sloppy kiss as he wraps his arms around my neck saying “ma-ma!”. It will be a grand and exciting day as we celebrate two years of time on this earth, two years of memories, and two years of our world being shaken up in the greatest of ways.

Happy Birthday to my two year old.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

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