The Nursery.

I started planning our growing little one’s nursery long before this babe was even in my belly. I would sit up at night pinning ideas on Pinterest, bookmarking websites that had cute decor inspo, and feeling slightly ridiculous for planning so in depth for a baby that did not yet exist.

Fast forward to finding out I was pregnant. After seeing those two lines on the test and spending my entire morning pacing around the house with an overwhelming feeling of joy, I remember wandering into the room that would soon belong to our baby. As I sat there rearranging the room in my head, I planned the perfect nursery for a little girl. Call it a mother’s intuition or call it wishful thinking… I just knew it would be a girl’s room long before we ever knew the gender.

Now here we are. Just 6 weeks from my due date and all that we need to complete this nursery is our sweet girl. Inspired by wild flowers, I created a girly little space with a boho touch. With the exception of her crib (which will be in our room for the first few months) and changing table/dresser, I utilized furniture that we already had. The leaning shelves were purchased for our first home years ago at The Container Store. The couch is part of a sectional that was in our first home as well. We’d thought about getting rid of it several times but since it was still in great condition we held onto it “just in case” we could find a later use for it…and sure enough we did. What was once the couch we bought for our first home together is now the couch that I will cuddle up and nurse our little girl on. The crib and changing table/dresser are both from IKEA. I’ve found changing table dressers to be so ridiculously over priced and not at all cute enough to justify the high price tags, so thanks to an idea I saw on Pinterest, we bought a basic plain white Ikea dresser and changed out the knobs with little crystals that I found at H&M.  It’s the perfect height to double as a changing table and will still look great once she transitions to a big girl room.

All of my framed prints came from Etsy shops Adoren Studio and Ivie Baby. The frames came from Ikea, Target, and H&M (which surprisingly has a super cute home section on their website). The furry stool is from Target and is probably my favorite piece in the room. The rug, almost all of the shelf décor, hanging flower crown antlers, wall hooks, and the pillows also came from Target because as we all know, Target is just winning in the game of reasonably priced home décor. The tapestry hanging on the wall-also one of my favorite pieces in the room-came from Modern Burlap. After spending so many months hoping and praying for this baby, the verse grabbed my attention the moment I first saw it and I instantly knew that it had to be a center piece of her nursery. Lastly, let’s talk about the giant flower S on the wall (which, for those who have been curious about her name, is totally a hint). I had seen giant floral letters on Pinterest a million times and was set on putting one in my girl’s room. Every internet search led me to Etsy, where the smallest letters were going for over $100. Since I have a million other things that I would rather spend a hundred bucks on, I decided to try to make one myself… and oh my goodness am I glad I did. With the help of a DIY website and some Michael’s coupons, I was able to put together a giant floral letter that matches the room perfectly, is double the size and cost a quarter of the price.

I could not be more proud of the little space that I put together for our girl. As the need to nest grows stronger and stronger I find myself sitting in her room on the couch several times a day, just picturing our sweetest new addition enjoying her space. The clothes and blankets are washed… the drawers are stocked and organized… Everything is in its place.

Now we wait.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

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Baby #2 is a…

At 12.5 weeks pregnant, we went in to see my high risk specialist for a cervix check. I knew it was super early to ask about the gender, but I was so anxious to know that I couldn’t help but beg him to take a guess. Right away, the doctor said “looks like a girl”.  The words my husband and I had been hoping like crazy to hear. He let us know that he was 80% sure and would check again at the next appointment. Scared of getting too excited, we shared our news with only a couple people and I did my best not to get my hopes up (and by “did my best” I mean I only added like 50 girly items to my online shopping carts instead of actually purchasing said items).

At the following appointment at 14.5 weeks, the doctor changed his certainty to 90% girl. That was all I needed to hear… from that moment on, baby became a she. I went home that day and started buying flowery little swaddle blankets and pink onesies. I sat in bed awake at night dreaming up the perfect girly nursery and smiling at the idea of watching my husband raise a little “daddy’s girl”. In the back of my mind however, I was still so nervous that we would walk into our next appointment only to find out that she was suddenly a he. I of course would still love that baby with everything I had either way, but I knew it would be a bit of a temporary shock if the gender changed on us (not to mention I sure would have an embarrassing amount of returns to make).

Finally this week, at 17.5 weeks… we got the confirmation that we have been waiting for. Baby number two is 100% a girl. The moment the ultrasound tech scanned over the little girl parts she exclaimed “oh yeah that’s without a doubt a girl” and all I could do was smile the biggest smile.  Just like that, I get to be the mama of a daughter. I want to cry just saying it–thanks pregnancy hormones.

I remember as a little girl, I always said that I hoped to first have a boy so that he could be the protector, followed by a girl who would look up to her big brother. As we began our journey into pregnancy number two, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would actually get to experience mothering a girl or if I was destined to be a boy mom. Now I am filled with so much joy to be able to say that I have got my sweet crazy boy + a girl on the way.

Trimester two has been much easier on me than the earlier weeks of pregnancy. My nausea has finally passed and most days my energy levels seem to be normal again. Best of all, my incompetent cervix has not yet come back to bother me. The high risk specialist has told us at every appointment that he is shocked by the total turnaround and that it’s like he’s looking at an entirely different patient’s cervix. I remain under careful watch and he’s ready to operate on me the second he feels he needs to, however so far there has been zero sign of the return of my cervical problems.

I have to say, it’s a bit of a shock. A good shock, but a shock nonetheless. Ever since the complications of my last pregnancy, we have been warned to expect the same thing this time around. We were prepared (or at least as prepared as one can be) for me to be on bed rest for the majority of my pregnancy. The moment I found out I was pregnant I held off making any plans out of fear that I would be bed ridden for the following 8 months. But here I am, 18 weeks along and still movin and groovin. Things could change suddenly, but for the time being we are simply hoping for the best and trusting the talented doctor who is closely monitoring me.

I have recently begun feeling tiny baby kicks all throughout my day and from time to time I have even been lucky enough to feel quick little movements on the outside of my belly, excited for the kicks to grow stronger so that my husband and son can share in the experience. I’m growing bigger by the moment and at least half of my wardrobe is now very much off limits. My cravings include bean and cheese burritos with sour cream (if there is no sour cream I will throw a pregnant lady fit and refuse to eat it), Frosted Flakes/about half of the rest of the cereal aisle, corn on the cob, and chocolate chip cookies accompanied by an almost frozen glass of whole milk. The nursery/baby item check list is quickly coming along and I find myself staring at the already acquired items in excitement at least a couple times a day. Surprisingly, I have managed to make it to the gym for a 30 minute workout 4-5 nights a week and am feeling pretty darn great about that.

Just about halfway through this pregnancy and so far it has been everything I’d hoped for and more. I plan on soaking in every sweet moment as this little one continues to grow,  awaiting the big day that we get to welcome our girl into the world.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

 

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Phoenix 2016.

Boy oh boy this post has been a long time coming. We took our first trip to Phoenix last month and due to all kinds of phone/computer issues I’ve had THE most complicated time getting all of my photos into one spot. So here we are, better late than never!

This was probably the most organized and well planned trip we’ve been on yet. The possibility/option of moving to Phoenix (to be closer to the majority of my husbands business) made this trip different than most because rather than going with just the intent of having a good time, there was also the intent of feeling it out to see if it could potentially be a good fit for our family in the future (don’t worry family and friends, this would be way further down the road, if at all). While we are going to have many many more visits before we make up our minds, I wanted to make sure that our first experience with this city was as positive as it could be since we will be spending a lot of time there regardless.

To give you a little insight on my trip planning, I have a pretty simple 3 step process. Here’s a brief glimpse at the workings of my planning/organizing obsessed brain:

1. Yelp
-I am a major lover of yelp. There is no place I go to that I haven’t thoroughly explored on yelp before I go. It allows you to not only read reviews,  but you can also see photos of the atmosphere and menu, which are super helpful when trying to find places that will make the whole family happy. It’s great for hotels too because rather than getting the fluffed up professional photographs that the hotel websites offer, you get to see real life images of what the room will actually look like when you get there (great for if you’re on the fence about a hotel). I spend several days combing through all the possible hotels and restaurants to choose from, and narrow down the best by bookmarking them.

2. Maps
-once I’ve narrowed down our hotel(s) and top restaurant picks , I run them all through maps to see how far they all are from each other. This helps when it comes to making the itinerary because it’s far easier to stick to exploring one area each day, rather than dodging all around in a new city (especially a big city like Phoenix). If you are really unfamiliar with the area and don’t even know where to start, Yelp can be really helpful for this part as well. Often times I will just enter the address of my hotel into yelp, filter my results based on distance, and sift through the places that I had bookmarked. Combining this method with maps will get you a really accurate idea of where everything is at and will make the adventure a bit less complicated.

3. Itinerary
-after I have my spots picked and have them all grouped based on proximity, I start my itinerary. I break it down by day, followed by a list of several potential activities and a restaurant choice for each meal of that day. I know there are plenty of people out there that prefer the spontaneity of a less organized trip but when you’re planning around your husbands meetings + your toddlers mood swings, an organized itinerary makes everything so much smoother and less stressful. We have run into situations far too often where we have no idea where to eat lunch, barely ate breakfast because my husband had a meeting, and now come 1pm we are all cranky and irritable because we are starving and have no idea what restaurant options are even in the area. Itineraries completely solve that problem and allow you to actually enjoy your time. We don’t always stick exactly to the plan, but having that plan as a backup to go off of is a total life saver.

Our first two days in Phoenix we stayed at the Arizona Grand resort. The rooms and service weren’t exactly my favorite but the grounds were really sprawling and beautiful. There’s a Mexican restaurant on the property with amazing enchiladas (and sangria). Sadly the hotel’s water park was closed during weekdays because we went after the high summer season but there were several pools that were still accessible and still plenty of fun for the little dude.

The second half of our trip we stayed at the AC hotel in Tempe, and I absolutely loved it. The property has only been open for a few months so everything is nice and new. There is a rooftop pool with beautiful views and the location is prime. There is a long walking path along the water and tons of restaurants within a 5-10 minute drive.

…Which leads me to one of my favorite parts of traveling: the food! Phoenix has a ton of amazing spots to choose from.  My favorites included:

1. Snooze AM (fun/hip/eco friendly college student breakfast spot with an awesome staff)
2. Culinary dropout (unique/trendy decor and delicious small plates/appetizers)
3. Olive and Ivy (great ambiance, even better food and cocktails)
4. The Hash Kitchen (quirky breakfast spot with an interesting twist on classic dishes)
5. Zu Izakaya (traditional Japanese. Lots of sushi, Saki, and grilled teriyaki to choose from)

As for activities, we checked out Scottsdale quarter (which has a really cool/unique splash pad area and tons of shopping), explored the downtown Phoenix area, and checked out a couple of pretty parks. We did a ton of driving to just get familiar with the area and had a lot of fun looking at the versatile range of adobe-esque houses in the area. If you’re as into home design as we are, I highly recommend just driving through the neighborhoods of Scottsdale for a while, even if you have no intent of ever moving there…if anything you’ll spot some really pretty houses and some of the biggest cacti you’ve ever seen.

We left the trip with a good feeling about Phoenix and all of the possibilities + adventures that it holds. It is such a cool desert city with so much to do and so much that we have yet to explore. While this is just the beginning of our Arizona travels, our first taste was certainly a sweet one.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

 

If we’re being honest.

I’ve never been a big fan of change. I’m a creature of habit, a lover of routine. I take comfort in familiarity and am all about my planning and my schedules. It may sound boring, but it’s what works for me. Since my son was born, my family and I have settled into a groove that has worked for us and life ran pretty smoothly.

With my husbands job switch, that all changed. Going into this, we knew what to expect and decided that it was worth it. There would be three months of out of state training during which we would live separate lives thousands of miles away from each other. After returning, my husband would be working from home for the first time ever and instead of traveling to his previous territories for business, we would now be traveling to Arizona. We knew what we signed up for, but I don’t think either of us fully understood just how hard all of it would actually be on our family. Sometimes I can’t help but to feel as though our perfectly put together puzzle was taken apart and all jumbled up, and now we are left with entirely different puzzle pieces to form a new picture with.

None of this is a bad thing whatsoever, it is simply a different thing. While we are so excited to begin our traveling with this new company and we are so excited to settle into a life where my husband gets to work from a home office, it has not been an easy road. Three entire months away from the man that I have never spent more than 3 days apart from has easily been one of the most trying experiences of my life. There are visits for a couple of days every other weekend, but its just that… visits. Visits that never feel long enough. I cannot even begin to tell you how often I fantasize about the day that he comes back home to us, not for a visit, but to stay for good. To settle back into our home and our life together. To settle into a new routine, a new groove, a new normal.

We have both talked a lot about how this time apart feels pretty purgatory-esque. He’s away training, unable to actually start up new business ventures until he’s finished. I’m at home with our son, unable to fully settle into a new way of life knowing that once he’s home, everything will change again. The entire summer has just felt like the longest wait of my life.

It’s safe to say on any given day of the week that at some point I’m having a mild emotional breakdown. Going from co-parenting with the best most helpful spouse around to solo parenting entirely on my own 100% of the time has been a shock and a total roller-coaster. Like, I’m talking the craziest roller-coaster the amusement park has to offer. Mind you, all of this came in the midst of the terrible twos transforming into threenagerhood, or as my friend informed me the other day “the trying threes”. My son’s new favorite hobbies include having meltdowns over simple statements like “you can’t have ice cream for dinner”, as well as jumping off of the dining table and climbing up onto the kitchen counter (claiming that he is “rock climbing”, duh). I am fairly certain that he shows all signs of being a future extreme sports star, which isn’t exactly comforting for this overprotective mama. These days, I consider it an accomplishment worthy of a trophy (or maybe like…a free pedicure)  if I manage to get through an entire five minute shower without him destroying something and I’ve become accustomed to warming up my dinner a good five times before I actually have a moment to finish it. This blog post has been in the making for a good 3-4 weeks now and is only finally happening because I’ve been blessed with a small miracle called “my kid has decided to nap every day this week”. Then of course, right when I am at my wits end and about to finally suck it up and hire a babysitter to take him off my hands for a while, he snuggles up next to me and gives me the sweetest cuddles. He kisses my forehead, tells me he loves me, falls asleep holding my hand… and just like that, all is forgiven and I am ready to brave it out another day.

Perhaps the only few things getting me through this incredibly difficult stretch are my occasional weekends with my husband, really good friends, and visits from my grandparents. At the end of a long day, a wine night and adult talk has a way of totally renewing my sanity. In the middle of a rough day, lunch from my grandma has a way of just lifting my spirits (those cafe rio salads are magical I tell you). And at the beginning of an already exhausting morning, coffee with my grandpa while he goes on and on about politics/his homeland in Italy has a way of distracting me in the best way possible. I’ve found during this time that the only way to get through this is to count the small achievements and to focus on still doing things for myself sometimes, even if that just means curling up on the couch with a pint of gelato and binge watching bad reality tv for two hours after my son has gone to bed.

Beyond the difficulties of parenting on my own, there has been the obvious difficulty of living so far away from the man that I have always had such a deeply close connection with. We understand each other better than anyone on this planet. He’s my best friend, my partner, my love. Distance sucks.  Feeling as though we have had two different lives this summer sucks. I will never have a true understanding of what his life and training in Ohio has been like and he will never have a full understanding of what my life as a solo parent has been like. The best we can do is focus on communication, understanding, and always always always loving each other through it.

Our mantra through all of this has been “this is just temporary”. We like to envision ourselves a year from now, settled into our new way of life, looking back on this time and laughing at how dramatic we were to feel as though it would never end. I am fully aware that it could be worse. It could be longer, there could be no weekend visits, there could be far less opportunities to talk on the phone. All across the country right now there are military wives with deployed husbands that are going through a far more difficult experience than I probably will ever know. There are single moms that do what I’m doing day in and day out with little to no assistance. This experience has given me the utmost respect for these strong women, that’s for certain.

We are officially two and a half months into this training with only a couple more weeks remaining. Mid August, my husband will return home briefly before heading out to shadow for a couple more weeks. And with that, it will all be over. He will be fully trained for this new and exciting position, he will be living back home, we will be traveling on business adventures to Arizona… together.

With each day I find myself breathing a little easier knowing that we have almost made it. This summer certainly has not been what I’d had in mind, and while it may have been far from easy, it did come with its share of experiences. It has allowed me to strengthen my friendships. It has reinforced the importance of communication and being open and honest with my emotional struggles. It has taught me that I’m a pretty badass mom. It has taught me that no matter what total curveballs life may throw at me, I will deal with it and I will be ok. It has given me time to become a more creative parent and to work on my parenting techniques. Most importantly, it has reminded me that no matter where my husband is in the world, our love will always get us through. No matter how hard this has been for both of us, and no matter how much has changed this summer, the one thing that has never changed is the crazy amount of love that I feel every time I hear my husband on the other end of the phone (Yeah yeah yeah, I know that sounds so cheesy and sappy but it wouldn’t be us if it wasn’t).

This summer took me far out of my comfort zone to say the least, but we have finally arrived at the final stretch and we are SO close to creating a new “normal” for our family. 2.5 months down, 2 weeks(ish) to go. In my husband’s words, “This has been hard, but it has not left us shaken”.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

 

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Three.

We’ve officially got a threenager on our hands and he certainly seems to have gotten the memo. With all the attitude of a teenager packaged into a toddlers little body, that kid  has been giving me a run for my money these days. With his new age has also come a whole new world of vocabulary and while he thoroughly enjoys arguing with just about everything that I say, I cannot help but to burst out laughing at half the sentences that he manages to put together. One moment the kid has got me on the verge of fuming, the next moment he’s squeezing my face saying “mama, love you soooooooo much!” and in those moments, all I can think is that motherhood is the most amusing and beautiful journey I’ve ever been on.

To celebrate three, we hosted a brunch themed birthday party. I’m fairly positive that Liam would be perfectly down for eating turkey bacon and donuts at every meal for the rest of his life if I let him, so I figured nothing would make him happier than a house full of his favorite people and a table full of breakfast.

I centered the decorations around shades of blue with silver/metallic accents. As always, with the help of Etsy I found a donut banner here for the photo backdrop, and I also found the cake topper and drink stirrers here. For the photo backdrop I used a metallic tassel garland that I found on Amazon.

For food, donuts were obviously the star of the show. I ordered a variety of gourmet  styles from PinkBox donuts, 80% of which were gone in the first hour. I tell ya, say the word “donuts” and people come ready to eat their weight in sugar. Of course there was also turkey bacon–three entire jumbo packages of it because well, people like their bacon just as much as they like their donuts. Keeping with the brunch theme, rather than filling the cupcake stand with cupcakes, I filled it with blueberry muffins and a spinach-artichoke crustless quiche (Pinterest recipes for the win). I made pancakes and as much as I would love to say they were from scratch, given the mass quantity of pancakes that I needed to whip up real quick, I got shake and pour Bisquick (which ended up being such a lifesaver time-wise). To top it all off we had sausage patties, my family’s traditional super chocolate cake, and a bunch of fruit.

No birthday brunch is complete without a mimosa bar for the adults, which is always a hit. We stuck strawberries and raspberries on the drink stirrers, had grapefruit juice and orange juice to offer, and an ice bucket full of champs.

Activity wise, I was able to find the perfect sized kiddie pool on Amazon that we put in the backyard along with water guns and a water table. Put a bunch of kids in a backyard with multiple water activities and they’re happy for hours, it’s awesome. Luckily the weather was on our side and the backyard was actually really comfortable to be in, which is almost unheard of for Vegas in July.

Most importantly, my son had the best time ever. So many of his favorite people were able to make it, he had like 3 donuts and a stack of turkey bacon to himself, and our living room was covered in new toys for three days straight.

This house officially has a three year old, and we are so excited to see the new developments that come with this age.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

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Palm Springs 2016.

My husband and I have not been on a solo vacation since several months before I got pregnant with our son. That’s almost 4 years you guys. 4 years of not one single true vacation. Don’t get me wrong… I have so much fun traveling with our son. But as every parent knows… a vacation with a toddler is rarely a true vacation. Since becoming a mom, I could not help but fantasize about a vacation in which I could sleep in until whatever time I wanted… lay out by the pool relaxing with a drink in my hand without having to keep anybody entertained… pick restaurants based on trendy atmosphere rather than the children’s menu… and so on. Well, that vacation finally came and it came in the form of Palm Springs last week.

Several months ago I got a promotional email from hotels.com, which is really what sparked this whole thing. I sat there for a few minutes thinking about how great a romantic summer vacation with my husband would be, if only we could find a convenient time. And then it dawned on me… there would never ever be a “convenient time”. Whether it be work, money, lack of babysitting, or a million other variables… it is so easy to always find a reason not to take some much needed adult time to yourself. The truth is, it will extremely rarely (in fact probably never) be easy to find someone willing to watch your super high energy toddler for two whole nights while you run off to a desert oasis to lay by the pool and drink mimosas all day with your spouse. It’s just not going to happen until you make it a priority. So, that is precisely what we did. I booked the hotel right then and there, texted my saint of a sister begging/bribing her to babysit, marked it in our calendars, and just like that… we at last had a romantic get away set in stone.

Not surprisingly, Palm Springs turned out to be everything that I needed. We spent our stay at the Ace Hotel/Pool club and couldn’t have been happier with our hotel choice. Our room had a really cool private patio entry, the decor was spot on to the bohemian desert oasis vibes of the hotel, and possibly the best part… it was about 15 steps away from the pool entrance. The great thing about Palm Springs in the summer is that it is so absurdly hot and dry that there is almost nothing to do other than relax by the pool, so the place just has vacation written all over it. I really don’t know how anybody gets anything done around there because I know I personally found myself just wanting to be in the pool at all times. The small fraction of time in which we weren’t being total sloths by the pool, we were able to check out a few other cute spots around town, like the beauty that is the Moorten Botanical Garden, as well as the stunning ‘Alice in Wonderland-esque’ grounds of Le Parker Meridian Hotel.

After that vacation with my husband, I can confidently say that every couple with kids should make it a priority to do a “no kids vacation” every so often. Whether it be to Palm Springs (which I would highly recommend) or just a fun staycation in your own city, child free bonding time is so very important. Not only did I return from the trip feeling refreshed and relaxed and ready to be a good mom again, but I also came back feeling closer than ever to my sweet husband.

And as for my son? He apparently hardly noticed that we were gone. No matter how guilty you may be feeling for leaving your little one(s) for a couple of days, the truth is, sometimes they need a change-up in the schedule and a little bit of time away from you as much as you need a little bit of time away from them. My husband and I got a relaxing vacation, and my son got some quality bonding time with his aunt, so it was really a win-win.

I have no idea when the next opportunity for another romantic little getaway will be, but I sure am happy with the time that we got. Until next time, Palm Springs.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

 

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

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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A Winter Wonderland: Park City 2k15

I feel fairly certain that every Christmas song ever written was inspired by the winter wonderland that is Park City. And while that is definitely a very fabricated exaggeration and while I most certainly will not fact check that statement, you get the picture. This was the second December in a row that we have been blessed enough to visit park city during its most magical season and once again, it did not disappoint.

We started off the trip with a plane ride that ended up being far more enjoyable than one would expect when traveling with a toddler. Everything went smoothly (despite leaving the house 30 minutes late), the airport was amazingly accommodating towards travelers with young children, and Liam only had about 2-3 minor fits on the plane, which I deem a major success.

Park City is about a 30 minute drive out of Salt Lake, but the drive is so scenic that it really feels like 10 minutes. A quick stop at a business meeting for my husband, lunch at an awesome BBQ joint, and a few too many tantrums later and we were at our hotel. We chose to stay at the Westgate Park City thanks to our incredibly enjoyable experience there last year. They have a one bedroom villa that is perfect for families, is in prime location for just about anything that one would want to do in the area, plus the balcony view and fire place provide the perfect setting for a vacation full of cozy bundled up evenings.

Our first night there was spent with a lot of middle of the night wake ups. And our second night. And our third night. How is it that somehow a three foot-ish human being can manage to take up 75% of a king sized bed?

Minus the poor sleep however, I would have to say the trip was a great success. My husband had several business meetings in the area that show potential, we ate a ton of delicious food, and went on long drives through the beautiful snowy mountainsides. We drove through neighborhoods full of dreamy homes, walked around with coffee as the snow fell on us, and got to frolic around main street for a while. On our second night there, Liam fell asleep in the car on our way back to the hotel with some take out. My husband somehow managed to quietly ninja walk him back up to the room and put him into bed without him waking, creating the most relaxing of evenings for us. Curled up on the couch in front of the fire watching Elf with pizza, beer, and my husband, all I could think was “man…someone up there REALLY loves us”.

It was the kind of trip that did nothing but remind me of how incredibly blessed we are. There were tantrums and there was not quite enough sleep. My son threw a water glass all over me at a restaurant while it was snowing outside and on a couple of other occasions judgy uptight old people stared us down with the wrath of god in their eyes while we tried to get our two year old to behave. But none of that mattered because I was with my two favorite people in the whole wide world exploring a winter wonderland that looked like something out of a magical fantasy novel or a snowglobe. The pictures do not even do this place justice, so I highly recommend that you all put this place on your travel to-do lists.

There’s nothing to put you in the Christmas spirit quite like a trip to a small snow covered mountain town. With Christmas next week, I go into the holiday feeling blessed blessed blessed and am greatly looking forward to seeing my little man’s excitement on Christmas morning. Wishing all of you and your families a whole lot of loving, smiling, eating, cheersing, relaxing, laughing, and celebrating as Christmas rolls around.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

 

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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