Hello 2017.

2016 was a lot of things for us. It was change. It was adventure. It was new beginnings. 

While I dropped the ball on my healthy lifestyle the last half of the year and I still have not managed to figure out how to get all the things done and simultaneously finish my coffee while it’s still hot, this year did bring its share of accomplishments and positive changes. I still am not supermom (my son has confirmed this by repeatedly telling me that he cannot see my muscles when I flex for him) and I still have not made a single trip to Target in which I left with only the items on my list… however I have added “working mom” to my list of accomplishments and I’ve finally mastered the art of making the perfect flank steak +garlic mashed potatoes.

This year brought a lot of unexpected events. Within the course of 12 months, my husband decided to change companies (and had to spend 3 months away from us training across the country), we traveled to more destinations than we ever have before, I took on a part time job, my husband managed to break 3 iphones, I had like 4 different hair styles/colors, and our son developed a serious love for telling fart jokes to as many strangers as he can. There were highs and lows as there are every year, but overall I am ending this year feeling like one of those most blessed ladies on the planet.

If I was to narrow my lessons for the year down to one all encompassing lesson, it’s probably that things don’t always go to plan… and that’s ok. I have always been a planner. I try not to let anyone see the “notes” app on my phone because there are so many lists and plans going on in there that it’s honestly surprising that I haven’t started a line graph documenting how often my son makes comments about pooping/farting or how many times a day I say “honestly”. Planning and being prepared is my comfort zone and that’s how I like it, however almost nothing that went down this year was “in the plans”. And yet what do you know… Everything turned out ok. More than ok. Life has a way of working itself out and whether I care to admit it or not… Life does not care if I made a plan for this or a plan for that. Everything happens when it happens for a reason, and while I still have no plan to stop planning, I have learned to be more accepting of when things do not happen according to my schedule.

Going into the new year, I feel optimistic… I feel excited… I feel blessed. I have a sweet/successful/super handsome/loving husband who is currently in an ongoing battle with my grandpa as to whether or not he should grow out his beard. I have a son who is absolutely taking his sweet time at potty training but says the funniest things I’ve ever heard in my life and always tells me that I’m pretty. I have a job that challenges me and keeps my mind moving and allows me to still spend most of my time at home with my family. I have a home that makes my heart happy. I have a sweet puppy that won’t stop jumping on my house guests but has the most amazing tolerance for loud three year olds that want to use her as a jungle gym. I have a small but great group of friends who thoroughly enjoy getting down with wine/cocktails whenever I need one (or five). I have family near and far that constantly remind me that I am loved (even if it’s a string of texts at 5 in the morning or comes in the form of 6 back to back snapchats). I could not imagine needing anything else as I take on this new year.

I wish you all nothing but happiness. If this year was good to you…take time to count your blessings and cary that love into the new year. If this year was bad to you…take time to count your blessings and clear your head, and shake it all off. It’s time for resolutions and positivity and optimism and all of the cheesy “new year, new me” phrases that someone is bound to make fun of you for. It’s time to take on 2017… Happy New Year my friends.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

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Zion 2016: some tips on”glamping”

A list of some things that I just can’t stand:
1. Bugs
2. Dirty things
3. Bugs

Despite this fact of life, I still love camping. I grew up going on several camping adventures every summer and so many of my favorite childhood memories are centered around it. But what I love even more than camping is glamping (glam+camping for those of you who are unfamiliar with the funny little term).

My husband has finally wrapped up his summer long work training and had a whole week back home between his travels. Zion has been calling our name all summer and so… off to Zion we went. I’ve always heard that September/October is the best time to visit the park + it’s only about a 2.5 hour drive for us + our garage has been exploding with all of the camping supplies that my husband insisted we absolutely needed at the beginning of the summer so the whole trip just easily fell into place.

One of my least favorite parts about camping (besides the bugs and decreased ability to maintain proper hygiene) has always been the mess associated with meal time. Fortunately for us, Pinterest has completely changed the game and is full of all the ‘make ahead’ meals you could ever want. I spent the entire day before the trip prepping all three days worth of food. I froze most of our food prior to leaving so that it would last longer in the ice chest and I double bagged everything so that it wouldn’t get ruined as the ice melted. The awesome thing about make ahead meals is that you wrap everything in foil and all that you have to do come meal time is throw it over a fire (or a small camping grill like we used) and 20 minutes later you’ve got a delicious hot meal with no dirty cookware.We keep all of our dry food in one large plastic container and keep the container in the trunk of the car where its guaranteed to stay dry and bug/animal free. I like to keep the container stocked full of lots of snacks because lets face it… there is nothing like kicking back in a fold out chair with your feet up on a log while passing around a bag of Chex Mix and seeing how many of the brown pieces you can sneak before anybody catches you.

**Tip: If you rely on your morning coffee like we do, a french press is an amazing way to make the perfect cup of coffee at your campsite. Simply grind some fresh coffee before you leave, store it in an air tight container, and boil some water in the morning. Easiest and freshest cup of coffee you could possibly have while camping. And let me tell you… Something about a good cup of coffee in the cool quiet morning as the sun rises over the campground that is just total perfection.

A few of our favorite meals on the trip were:

 

Campfire Breakfast Burritos:

(This recipe is even better if you sub the frozen potatoes for freshly chopped red potatoes tossed in olive oil/garlic powder/onion powder/paprika/chile powder and add some salsa verde before you roll it all up! We also sub turkey bacon instead of regular bacon)
http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/side/potatoes/bacon-egg-and-potato-breakfast-burritos.html

 
Campfire Potatoes:

http://www.cleverlysimple.com/campfire-potatoes-on-the-grill/

 

 

Campfire Sandwhiches:
(we substituted the roast beef with turkey)

https://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/923025032/hot-roast-beef-sandwiches-pioneer-woman/

 
To “glam” up the site a bit, we brought a tapestry for a table cloth, which I think added a lot of character to our camp and was super easy to just bring home and wash at the end of the trip for plenty of future use. I also got some cheap wine glasses that come 4 for $5 at Target. They’re perfect because if you break one its not the end of the world since they’re so cheap but they are so much better than drinking wine from a solo cup. We brought some decorative candles for the table that we found at homegoods and they doubled as additional light sources in the evening.

Overall I would say the trip was definitely a success. Our camp seemed to have been situated on top of the central meet up point for the entire ant population of Zion, which was less than ideal, but beyond that everything was great. We were able to accomplish an entire 2.2 mile hike that went along the river . Normally I wouldn’t be bragging too much about 2 miles, but when those 2 miles consist of a three year old hiking *mostly* all on his own, I think it’s pretty justified. There was a bit of rain on our second day so we hid out in the car for a while and went for a scenic drive until it passed while The Lumineers and Deathcab For Cutie sang our tired little hiker to sleep. When it wasn’t raining, we played by the river and my husband and son caught little frogs and lizards while I took probably way too many photos.

Zion will forever hold a special place in our hearts because it was the first destination my husband and I ever visited together back when we were dating. Sharing it with our son and watching him find so much happiness there was everything I could have asked for to close out the summer.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

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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

 

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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It takes a village.

I’ll start off with this: my kid is SOCIAL. He will talk to anyone, anywhere and wants to be friends with whoever happens to be playing at the park when he arrives. Normally this isn’t an issue. My husband and I take our son to the same park every single night, and have been since the time he was kicking around inside my tummy (during a fit of desperation, I heard swinging could induce labor… so I took to swinging nightly in my final weeks of pregnancy). Normally when we arrive at the park, my son runs up to whatever other kids are there, they become instant friends, we exchange a few friendly words with the fellow parents, and laugh as our children frolic around together. Tonight however was different. As soon as my son ran up near this particular group, the parents sent out “are you going to come get your child away from us” vibes. On any other occasion, I would admit that I may have been reading deeper into it than need be, but moments later, the group migrated to a different area of the enclosed toddler park. Still, I thought to myself “perhaps I’m being dramatic and it was just a coincidence that they wanted to move spots when my son got there”. But again, my son ran after them to try and play with their children. Moments later, the group migrated. And then again, it happened for a third time.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are times that my son can be a bit ‘in your face’ and downright obnoxious if you don’t know him. But in this particular situation, my son really had done nothing to this group other than want to play in the general proximity of them. He was not being too invasive, he was not being mean… he simply wanted to play. And yet time and time again, the mom would herd her children away from him. Finally, the mom decided that she was tired of actively keeping her children away from my son and took them to go to the big kid side of the park, past the enclosed toddler gate. However, while doing this, she held the gate open and watched as my son escaped… not saying a single word. No “hey, your little one is trying to run out!”… No “hey sweetie, stay inside here with your mommy”… and No “hey kids, hurry up and close the gate so this little guy doesn’t get out”. She allowed and watched my son run out of the gate without doing a single thing about it. My husband and I believe in watching our son from a distance and allowing him his own space to play, so we had been observing from afar. Upon seeing him make a break for it, I had to go running off towards my toddler track star of a son across the park, just barely reaching him while he was still within eyesight… but I shouldn’t have had to because she shouldn’t have allowed him that opportunity.

I’m not saying that everyone has to like my child. I’m not saying that everyone needs to allow their children to play with my child. And I’m not saying it is anyone else’s obligation to step in to parent my child. But as a fellow mother, I do feel that it should be instinct to watch out for the well being of other children… meaning that when you see a child trying to run out of the toddler gate, you don’t actively hold the freakin gate open for them to run out of sight. When I’m at a park watching children play, my first instinct when witnessing a kid about to fall, is to lunge to catch them. My first instinct when someone’s child is about to run off while they are looking in the other direction is to alert them. My first instinct is NEVER to turn a blind eye to a situation that could result in a child being hurt or lost.

I feel that the parenting community is a strong one. There is no one that ‘gets us’ like fellow parents do. We should be each others biggest supporters and we should view ourselves as a giant unstoppable team of parenting greatness, driven primarily by the hopes of creating a generation that will thrive. And yet it often feels like parenting is instead turning into a giant competition in which its every parent for themselves…whether it be a rude and unnecessary comment on a fellow mother’s Instagram (adult cyber bullying at its finest), an unpleasant glare from the mom in the grocery store who clearly does not approve of your parenting methods, or the parents at the park who (upon bringing their child to a very public place) expect your toddler to keep a 15 foot distance from them at all times.

It is important for us to remember that our children will practice what they see. Looking out for another child on the playground or giving a fellow mother a helping hand teaches our children to look out for each other as fellow human beings. I feel as though this post could become rather preachy rather quickly, so I will wrap things up… but really guys, can we just all play for the same giant parenting team? We might not all agree on what the most flattering ‘parenting team’ uniform color would be (but let’s be real, its maroon) or what discipline technique is most effective, however I think that we can all agree that we want the best for our babies. In order to give them the best, we need to show them a world that knows compassion and acceptance and love and the value of a strong community… And to do that, it truly takes a village.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

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Moms, don’t feel guilty.

I recently had the opportunity to guest blog over at Positively Oaks. To check out my post about 5 things that mom’s just shouldn’t feel guilty for, head over to:

http://www.positivelyoakes.com/blog/2015/07/29/moms-dont-feel-guilty/

Cheers,

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