Our trip to Disneyland: part 3

Our last day at Disneyland brought us back full circle – Dumbo was the first ride my boys ever rode. They were obsessed with elephants at the time and I think we went on this a good dozen times. Each day.

Alex chose to wear one of his pajama tops (made by me) for the day:

The carousel is always a favorite!

The boys tried their best to pry the Sword from the Stone:

In the end, my husband told them, “maybe next time”.

On Thursday, we started the drive back home, with a stop at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History — more specifically, their Dinosaur Hall:

The boys loved seeing all the skeletons and interactive features — their interest in dinosaurs is not as strong as it was a couple of years ago; now Godzilla and superheroes have taken higher places of importance, but still, dinos continue to fascinate them.

We drove home after our brief visit, with a few stops for nourishment and bathroom breaks — the sky looked like this for most of our drive back:

But it wasn’t too bad, even when it did rain. We got home late, tired, happy, the boys eager to play with new toys, us adults eager to fall into bed, but all of us very, very grateful to Gran and Grandpa for taking us to Disneyland. Again. My little man did so well this time around, he was very clear when it was all getting too overwhelming for him and he and I would go back to the hotel room so he could spend some time in more calm surroundings. My big boy is such a good big brother, always looking out for Alex and such a delight to hang out with. There were a few moments of crankiness, but hello, some of them were mine, too.

Good-bye for now, Disneyland — I am sure we will see you again!

Our trip to Disneyland, part 2

Our trip to Disneyland continues with some collages I made of the boys:

My boys LOVE Tarzan’s Treehouse – I went up that thing once and decided that was the last of it for me. My back started to kill me and it took two rides of the Indiana Jones Adventure to fix it. That thing is better than a chiropractor, I swear. I went on it once when my back was pretty locked up, and when it was done I swear half the pain was gone, so of course I went on it again. It worked like a charm. Worth the price of admission right there ;D

Ssshhh – don’t tell them it used to be the Swiss Family Robinson tree house.

If you liked Cars, you will love the new Cars Land opening in June, they’ve recreated Radiator Springs and have several attractions and shops almost ready to go – a friend of my husband’s is an Imagineer working on this project and s/he showed us the preview room (open to everyone) which includes some of his/her work. Don’t want to get anyone in trouble so that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Alex decided he was getting overwhelmed by it all so he and I went back to the hotel room after lunch and we just hung out, played on my laptop, and I caught up on a new cookbook I got.

More about our trip in the next post!

Our trip to Disneyland!

We were gone last week, and for a very good reason – Gran and Grandpa decided to take us all on a vacation to Disneyland!

My oldest made it clear upon arriving at the hotel room that he meant to have a ferociously good time!

He was also very happy to see the many Avengers posters around D’land and Downtown Disney 😀

Waiting in line for the Jungle Cruise – the boys’ all-time favorite!

My youngest loved looking out the hotel room window — we were on the third floor and he thought it was awesome being able to look down at all the cars and people 😀

My little guy wasn’t tall enough for Star Tours so Grandpa kept him entertained.

(yes, we are totally getting lots of ideas for a future birthday party or room makeover!)

More on our trip to D’Land in my next post!

Wedding guests

Our dear friends J&M were married on April 7th and we were thrilled to witness their two lives becoming one. I call J my husband’s “boyfriend” and M and I kid about their “man dates”, and M has become a dear friend, I must admit I teared up during the ceremony.

The venue was the gorgeous Mission Ranch in Carmel — owned by Clint Eastwood — and the weather could not have been more perfect. Sunny but not oppressively hot, with a nice breeze to keep everyone comfortable.

Some wedding guests were uninvited, but very charming:

The rehearsal dinner was held at a local Italian restaurant — the food was amazing and my tiramisu was divine!

The wedding and reception were wonderful – I don’t like to “scoop” the bride and groom’s photos so I will wait for them to share their professional photos and/or the ones I took and shared with them, and then I’ll share them with y’all. My husband was a groomsman so I hung out with the men throughout the wedding day, even documenting the moment when the sandwich shop where they were going to get lunch at was closed, and we had to head to Safeway instead. It was a sight, 4 guys in tuxes and me taking pics like a paparazzo ;D

Hope this Monday is a beautiful start to your week!

Swedish baby shower

Over the weekend, I had the honor of hosting a baby shower for my sister-in-law, K. Her husband is from Sweden, where they live, and she’s visiting for a couple of weeks, so it was out only chance to get together and celebrate. I keep referring to her baby as baby Thor or baby Freya, but no, those are NOT the names they’re considering 😀 In fact, some of the names K likes for a girl (they don’t know the gender yet) are the ones I would have given to my child if I’d had a girl. I would LOVE it, if K’s baby is a girl, for my new niece to have those names I love, so yes, I am a little biased in what I hope she has.

Since we don’t know the baby’s gender yet, I decided to do the shower in the colors of the Swedish flag – blue and yellow:

I even learned to make pompoms!

Some of the wine was renamed with the names of Swedish places and the mommy- and daddy-to-be’s last name.

My husband did an amazing job decorating the house for Christmas, it looked beautiful!

I came up with a few games, including a crossword puzzle:

I had a blast planning and hosting the shower and even got gifts from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for hosting! My husband was a fabulous assistant, he took many photos, helped set up, kept people fed and with drinks, he made my job so easy. K said she had a good time and was very thankful, which means the world to me. I am so excited for baby Thor or baby Freya to arrive next spring!!!

Christmas in the Park

It has become a holiday tradition for Gran and Grandpa to take our little family to Christmas in the Park. This year it was even more special because my sister-in-law, K, is here from Sweden where she lives with her husband. We all met at the light rail station and took the train to downtown San Jose.

During the walk from the downtown station to the park:

I love taking pics of my handsome men 😀

Here are my men with Gran and Grandpa, and Auntie K.

My little man’s favorite perch is his daddy’s shoulders – thank goodness he is still small enough!

My husband, his sister K, and the boys on the train – it was free until 6pm, score!

My youngest hams it up for mama’s camera 😀

My oldest did not want to go on the Ferris wheel

But my youngest was game, so he and I went up!

Last night was also the tree-lighting ceremony, I caught a pic as the tree was lit

We had a great time looking at all the displays – thanks Gran and Grandpa!

Birthday weekend, part 4

After lunch and a nap, we got ready for dinner at Allegria.

Last year, our friends C&D had come to Napa with us and they’d gifted me a bottle of Caymus zinfandel.  I decided to bring the Caymus to my birthday dinner at Allegria and share it with my hubby and our friends J&M.

The wine went perfectly with our entrees and it was a delightful dinner.

Little did I know that our friends C&D would gift me another bottle of Caymus for this birthday – score!  Now I have wine for next year’s birthday dinner ;D

On Sunday, we had breakfast at the hotel and then headed home because we had invited people to celebrate with me – the party started at noon and we got home about 90 minutes before that.  My mother-in-law had watched the boys for us, my father-in-law got the house ready for guests, and both of them along with my husband did all the food.  I am so grateful to them!

I saw something this board on Pinterest and decided to make my own:

The afternoon was wonderful, it was so nice to see so many people from so many facets of my life.  When thinking about what to say if people asked what I wanted for my birthday, I took my inspiration from the book that started my veggie garden adventure – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver.  For her 50th birthday, Barbara asks everyone to bring her a plant.  I couldn’t do the same since her birthday was in May, perfect for planting, but mine is in November, and I was guessing many plants would not survive the winter.  So instead, to those who asked, I simply asked for seeds.  Any type of veggie or flower would do.  And oh my goodness, I now have a serious stack of seeds for my 2012 garden!  Plus other, very generous gifts that will all come in handy.

I didn’t want to blow out FORTY candles so my husband, helpfully, decided to get four “decade” candles.

My boys had tons of fun as well since they had lots of friends to play with.

It was such a wonderful end to my birthday weekend, so many wonderful friends and relatives.  Despite all the whining and moaning I’ve done about turning forty, I know am a very lucky girl.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Birthday weekend, part 3

After leaving Castello di Amorosa, we drove to Joseph Phelps for the tasting our friends C&D had set up for us.

Joseph Phelps has not only great wines, but also glorious views from their tasting terrace:

The tasting we had included their Insignia wines:

My favorite was the 2006 Insignia, followed by the 2005 Cab.  I am a Bordeaux girl at heart but love Cabs as well, so this tasting was right up my alley.

Me with our friend M.  Yes, I am a hobbit.  Ironic since she is from New Zealand 😀

For lunch, M had made reservations at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, a super charming restaurant from the owner of Brassica and Mustards.  I loved that the window boxes surrounding the restaurant were full of vegetables!

I had the Backstreet Burger, my husband and J had the Adult Grilled Cheese, and M had the Duck burger.  Everything was delicious and we headed back to the hotel for a nap.  More about my birthday weekend tomorrow!

Birthday weekend, part 2

My husband had planned a surprise for Saturday morning, my actual birthday.  He and our friends convinced me to get up early and “beat the rush” — I am a morning person and I thought, hey, if you want to get up at 6am too, whatever.  Well, the three of them were in on the secret, which was a balloon ride!

Unfortunately, Calistoga was very foggy that morning so it was canceled.  Boo.  Hiss.  At which point my husband told me of the plans and I was disappointed but not as much as the three of them, who were so excited over the balloon ride.  Oh well.  It was a super sweet plan and someday we’ll go up and see the sights from way up high.

Instead, we ended up going to a winery I’d been wanting to visit for a while.  If you ever get a chance, you should visit Castello di Amorosa.

image above from destination 360.com

Dario Sattui, owner of V. Sattui, built this castle in the style of a medieval Italian castle, and only produces Italian style wines.  You can read the story here.  It is quite historically accurate – following modern codes and regulations, of course – and it was nice to see details like the one my husband pointed out; a warming fire used to heat the rocks that made up the walls and then that heat would radiate into the rooms, making them cozier.

This place is breathtaking, and to someone who a) likes wine, and b) is a history addict, visiting Castello de Amorosa was a great experience.

My husband at the entrance of the castle.

The banquet room

My husband chose to have the wine & chocolate tasting.  Honestly, this day just kept getting better and better!  Our guide, Alene, was awesome, full of information, engaging, etc.  After the tasting, we headed over to Joseph Phelps because our friends C&D had set up a tasting for us there.

I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow 😀

Thursday Favorite ThingsWeekend Bloggy Reading

Where we were . . .

was Santa Cruz, California, a short drive from our home but about 25 degrees cooler. We had planned this trip a couple of months ago because Tuesday was our wedding anniversary. We have been married 8 years now and decided a quick getaway was just what we needed.

I’m sorry to say, I did not take a single photo. We brought the camera but decided to just enjoy every moment instead of scouting for photo opportunities, so all these pics belong to the talented people who took them – if you’re one of them and don’t want me to use your photo, let me know and I will take it down. All of them are linked to their original accounts.

On Monday, the first thing we did upon leaving our house and our kids, was buy some shirts for my oldest – isn’t that the sign of parenthood? You stop looking for stuff for yourself and it’s all for the kids. Anyway, my oldest loves collared shirts so we got a couple of really cute ones for $4.99 each at the mall, then popped in to see X-Men: First Class. It was ok, but the best thing about it was the eye candy.
X-Men First Class: la bande d'annonce débarque

After checking in, we had an early dinner at Kianti’s
Kianti's Pizza & Past Bar restaurant
my original pasta dish had meat sauce that was way too spicy for me so the server graciously offered a garlicky cream sauce instead which was super yummy. Both my husband and I were happy with our meal. We decided to call it an early night and then he got me hooked on Master Chef.

The next day we had one of the best breakfasts EVER at a place nearby called Zachary’s.
I loved that everything was locally produced, fair-trade, organic, etc. and the prices were totally reasonable. See, restaurant owners, it CAN be done! I am totally going to try to recreate their home fries with my homegrown potatoes. After breakfast we walked around downtown for a bit:
Santa Cruz Downtown
There are so many cute stores as well as some severely overpriced boutiques. I saw some cute sequined lace-trimmed tank tops for $5 at one shop and didn’t pick up any but then made my husband take me back on Wednesday. Yeah, I know, he’s really patient. Anyway, we saw Bridesmaids, it was so funny, I loved it.
What happens in this scene at the bridal salon is just hilarious, I couldn’t catch my breath I was laughing so hard! Afterward, we headed over to the wharf and stopped by Marini’s for some chocolate fudge. YUM! I nearly emptied the sample dish, it was so good.

We had some awesome seafood dinner down by the wharf, then went back to the hotel for some more Master Chef and to gorge on the fudge.

On Wednesday morning, we had ourselves some Starbucks (we’re such capitalists!) and then went back to the little shop with the cute tank tops. I got two, one in a marigold shade and one in – of course – turquoise, some NYX gloss, cheapie eyeshadows and nail polish.

At a cooking store we found an entire collection of dinosaur cookie cutters and of course, got them all for our pancake- and cookie-loving boys.

Back home, we ran to Toys ‘R Us because our Spidey Sense was telling us we needed to get things for the boys and we found some serious loot – three huge Godzilla figures, I am telling you the boys were jumping up and down in glee when they saw them. My awesome mother-in-law then gave the three men some haircuts before she left.

That was our first half of the week: relaxing, laughing, sleeping in, strolling around, and just generally enjoying each other’s company. But we missed our squirrelly monkeys!!! Now I am home, and I am content.