Friday, October 4, 2013

Oh How I Love Fall

 The title here just about sums it up.  I am one of the many fall lovers in the world.  Perhaps it is because I grew up in San Francisco and our fall is most of America's summer.... I am not sure.  But when September approaches I get giddy at the thought of all things fall.... boots, sweaters, pumpkin everything, changing leaves, earth colors, the chill in the air, and this year... the harvest up in Napa!  YEE HAW!

B's best friend Mike came to stay with us for 3 weeks and help B with work because he has just been inundated with new jobs (which is fantastic, but sucky at the same time!).  I would like to award Mike the "Best House Guest of the Century".  He just didn't even leave a footprint!  If I was staying with friends for 3 weeks, I'd be moved in! Haha!

Anyhow, we were all sitting on the deck talking and the subject of our weekend activity sans children came up.  B and I had never been up to the wine country, so I thought that it would be not only a great chance for us to head up there, but also for Mike to see more of the Bay Area.  And thus, our Napa trip was born!  Sadly, Mike was under the weather on the day we went, but B and I had an amazing day.

We started our journey by heading up to Rutherford to visit Frog's Leap Winery, which was recommended by a few friends of mine.  While it was indeed, gorgeous, the wines were just kind of eh.  The best part of the winery was the grounds. They of course had an enormous vineyard, but also fantastic gardens.  And we aren't just talking flowers.  They had fruit trees, vegetables, and even pumpkins!  When we were tasting our wine, the sommelier suggested that we walk the grounds and if we had the urge, to pick a snack.  Apparently she had no idea what she was suggesting to a girl like me.  Telling me there are free snacks is like telling a normal person there's free money in the garden.   I was so excited that I had brought a large purse!

First I was thrilled to find red bell peppers growing.  Then I grabbed a couple pomegranates (which, I might add, my 5 year old LOVES pomegranates now so really I was doing a service to my family by picking those : P ).  Then I saw an apple tree.  And B saw some squash he wanted.  By the time we left my bag was overflowing with fruits and veggies.  Thank you Frog's Leap!  Your gardens were much appreciated!
Our next stop was undecided, and my most favorite restaurant was located about a mile from Frog's Leap, but a mile in the wine country is filled with way more than one winery.  So we decided to stop at Caymus Winery, about 1/4 mile down the road.
Caymus was a little pricey, so we shared our flight (which quite frankly was smart because they poured some large tastes!).  We just sat in their gorgeous garden and talked about life, love, our family... it was wonderful.  And it was also wonderful to just enjoy each other.  Times like those make me fall in love with B all over again.  He truly is my best friend.

After that we headed a little farther away to Benessere Winery in St. Helena.  I had read on Yelp that it shouldn't be missed.  I would say if you want a tiny, casual, family run winery, it definitely is a great stop.  It doesn't necessarily have the "wow" factor like the other wineries, but it was quaint and our wine guy was super friendly.  AND there was a woman working who, when I asked her to take a photo of us, she decided to take us outside for a complete photo shoot!!  Which, I am obsessed with photos so I was in heaven.  Wine, sunshine, photos, my love... put them together and what do you get??? Heaven!  See below :)

With the kids' custody schedule the way it is, my calendar is measured in two increments: with kids, and without.  When I don't have the kids, B and I try to take advantage and continue to do things like we are "dating".  And when I do have the kids, it is all about the kids!  I try to go to kiddie amusement parks, create play dates, visit family, etc.  My kids hit the jackpot when my cousin emailed, inviting us up to Portland to visit her and her daughter for the weekend.

The kids hadn't flown since the end of 2011.  We went to Chicago and they vaguely remember flying.  When I told them we were taking an airplane to Portland I was asked about 100 times "Are we going today?!!!".  When the day came, they were more than ready to experience air travel!  B had to work, and my cousin's husband was out of town so it was a mommy-kid weekend. Kind of like Sister Wives, no??  If sister wife life is like that, I will totally be one.  We had so much fun!

We left the sunny San Jose sunshine for overcast skies in Portland.   But nothing could dampen the kids' enthusiasm for flying to see our cousins.  I must say, despite a delay, they were pretty well behaved at the airport and were excellent once we got on the plane.  Everything was fascinating to them, including the safety instructions and barf bag on the seat in front of us!  They did not argue over who got to sit next to the window (shocker for Mom), and they were thrilled when they got to pick their drinks and snack.  Now it is a short flight to Portland, and thank GOD for that, but I would give my kids an A for behavior while traveling this trip!

The one caveat on this travel alone with kids thing is that any time anyone had to do anything, i.e. go potty, buy a soda, etc.... everyone and everything had to go with us. And that SUCKED.  I couldn't leave 2 kids in a seat and say "Be right back", so we dragged our carry ons up and down the airport a few times, until I had had enough and just left them in the boarding area.  If someone wanted to steal toy dinosaurs and coloring books, so be it. I was sick of packing up!  Thankfully, my cousin's husband was kind enough to park and wait for us inside of the airport and help us carry our junk from the gates, to the baggage claim, to the car.  Sooooo nice of him, and much appreciated.

The highlight of the trip for me was that my cousin had purchased tickets to see Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5.  Yeeeehaw!  One of my favorite concerts was seeing Kelly Clarkson last year.  She is absolutely incredible.  When I saw her, it was in a tiny venue in San Jose, and we had awesome seats, and I could literally see her from about 10 feet away.  Yeah.... this concert was slightly different.  We were in an outdoor amphitheater.  In the back.  In the rain.  In the cold.  Without seats.  This princess was like "oh hell no!".  But this princess also loves Kelly so I sucked it up.  By the time we got to Maroon 5, it was absolutely POURING.  As in, sheets of rain.  The grass had turned to mud, and I was tired of being rained on.  Maroon 5 was great, but my enthusiasm was indeed "dampened" by the rain. (Chuckle Chuckle).  This photo does not include my plastic bag poncho that I was so incredibly grateful to have because by the time we left, I was wet... even with the poncho.  I would have died without it!

Another highlight of my trip was getting to see my cousin's new house!  In the Bay Area it is rare to hear of my friends making home purchases.  Particularly an actual HOUSE.  With over 2000 square feet.  In a cute neighborhood.  With a yard.  I could not be happier for her.  Her home is adorable, and decorated beautifully.  Congrats Cara & Jared!  Below are my munchkins and Cara's daughter Kate modeling in front of the door.  Classic "Welcome to my new home" picture! (Notice all three are wearing rain gear!  Welcome to the Pacific Northwest)

On Saturday, Cara had to work, so the kids were mine to entertain.  We had originally planned to go to the zoo, but the pouring rain had other ideas.  So instead, we went to the Portland Children's Museum.  The kids had a blast, but their favorite exhibit was the veterinarian office.  Benji was checking out all of the animals, while the girls were very interested in the kennel and putting bandages on the cats and dogs.  Crazy kiddos!  They also got to paint their own faces so all of my photos of them at the museum have them with kitty cat and a "SpiderMan" face (aka bright red all over).

Aidan was begging to play in the rain all day. From the time they were dressed until the time we got home from the museum, she was just DYING to use an umbrella and those rain boots and go to town.  So once Benji went down for a nap and I got Cara's okay for Kate to be out there, the girls went to town in the backyard.  Water logged chalk drawings, trampoline, puddles...they had so much fun!
Our trip was only Friday through Sunday, but by the time Sunday rolled around, the kids were exhausted!  How can you not love these sleepy little faces??
When we got home, it was back to the old grind and.... OCTOBER!  I am slightly obsessed with deorating my mantle in our playroom.  I had decorated for a general "Fall" theme, but was waiting until October to put out all of my Halloween decor. When I told B I was changing it for Halloween specifically he looked at me and said "You certainly have a lot of time on your hands!".  Ummm no.  I just love to decorate!!!  Here are a few pics of the playroom decor.  I feel like it is the least "finished" of all of the rooms in the house, simply because of layout and the fact that it is full of kid crap.  BUT, I tried :)  I included all angles because I don't think I have posted updated pics of the house in awhile.

And then there's my beautiful, wooden front door.  For some reason I have a love affair with the color of the stain on our front door.  It looks so warm and cozy. We added the topiary planter thingies a few months back, and I got lucky to find some garland in my Halloween bins.  I plan to add some pumpkins once we take the kids to the Patch.

And then throughout the house there are little Halloween touches here and there. Like my spiders in the dining room, a ghost flag thingie in the kids' room, and I have our ficus tree decorated with garland and orange lights.  I think the kids are going to absolutely love it when they get home from their dad's house.

So, as usual, I have been very busy!  My weight has remained exactly where it was before, which, is a good thing or a bad thing depending on your viewpoint!  For now, I am just happy that I am stable, and that life is good!