Monday, November 30, 2015

Our Thanksgiving

And just like that Thanksgiving is over. I remember after Halloween I said something to the tune of November being a relaxed, laid back month, but even without tons of stuff on the agenda it still flew by at lightning speed. 

It's crazy to think that last Thanksgiving we announced to our parents that we were expecting baby #2 and this year Declan was sitting at the table with us. 

Joe's mom and her husband flew in on Wednesday to spend the weekend with us and my parents and brothers drove over for Thanksgiving day. It was a full house and both Ez and Declan gleefully soaked up every single minute of extra attention. Ez took on the role of commanding each person to sit down, whether it was on the floor to play with him or at the table the second all the places were set. Declan was just happy to watch all the hustle and bustle from his grandparents' arms. 

Our menu consisted mostly of classic faves with a few twists. We had: turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, mac & cheese, homemade rolls (by my mom), zucchini casserole, butternut squash and blueberry salad, and salmon en croute that we got from Whole Foods. It's salmon, cream cheese, and spinach wrapped in puff pastry. So yummy! There was so much food that I couldn't take more than two bites of each thing before I was completely stuffed. Until dessert, of course. Then I magically found room for two pieces of pie (apple and pecan are my faves). 

After we all stuffed ourselves we walked over to the park and attempted taking approximately six hundred group photos. It was naptime by then, which means only about six out of six hundred photos turned out somewhat decent, but I kinda like the grumpy kid outtakes just as much as the smiley photos.

Then rest of our afternoon and early evening was spent half watching Star Wars while playing Headbandz, a ridiculously hard but fun and silly game which I highly recommend for big group settings. We also celebrated my stepdad's birthday, since he and my mom are spending the actual day at....(drum roll)...Disney World!! They're actually on the plane right now. Happy (almost) birthday Grampa! Have fun you two!

Food, family, games, and laughs = one successful Thanksgiving. I'm sad it's over, but also so ready to completely embrace all things Christmas. I just couldn't commit to trees and decorating until Thanksgiving had passed, but now it's game on! 

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is sitting around with their loved ones, wearing their stretchy pants, getting ready to feast. Maybe even round two, if you got an early start. For the second year in a row we will be doing Thanksgiving with two sets of grandparents, as well as my brothers, and it's a tradition I hope continues for many years to come. 

I've taken a mini unplanned blogging break this week, but with so many things to be grateful for this year I wanted to take a quick moment to jot them all down.

First of all, as always, I'm so thankful for Joe. Corny as it may sound, he's the yin to my yang, my partner in crime, the peanut butter to my jelly, my umbrella on a rainy day. He's 100%, without a doubt my soulmate. Hopefully I say this everyday, but especially on Thanksgiving, here's a big thank you for all you do and for being you!

I'm thankful for these two happy, healthy, always keeping me on my toes but also always making me laugh boys of mine. Some days I can't even remember what  life was like pre-parenthood, but I know it didn't hold a candle to this kind of happiness.

I'm thankful for all the friends and family, both far and near, that have shared in roll-on-the-ground, gut-busting laughs as well as a few tears with me. I love you all! 

And I'm also thankful for this big community of moms that share their honest parenting experiences both in real life and here in blogland. From the triumphs, to the humorous, to the sleep deprived and downright scary. It's nice to know we've all been there and we're all in this together!

K, sappy post over. Time to go back for leftovers!

Friday, November 20, 2015

9 Non Chocolate DIY Advent Calendars

I know, I know, it's not even Thanksgiving yet and here I am with a Christmas post. But guess what? There's only one weekend between Thanksgiving and December 1st. I know, right? Where did this month go?? So if you want to make your own advent calendar, now's the time. Thankfully I spent a few late night nursing sessions scouring Pinterest, so if you're a procrastinator like me I've got you covered with a few fast & easy DIY advent ideas here. And I don't know about you, but after Halloween and Thanksgiving pie the last thing my kid needs is an extra piece of chocolate each day. Ez is the poster child for going bonkers 2.5 seconds after consuming a tiny morsel of chocolate. No thank you. Also, let's be honest, I'll probably just steal all his chocolates when he inevitably forgets about them, and that's the last thing I (or my jeans) need. Unless See's makes an advent calendar. In that case I'll take two. 
  1. Romantic Notes Christmas Tree: This is something I did for Joe the past two years. I got the little numbered envelopes from Michaels and then wrote 24 reasons I'm grateful for Joe on heavy cardstock paper and folded them up and put them inside. Romantic Christmas-themed dates would also be a fun idea. You can check out more spouse advent calendar ideas here
  2. Shoe Organizer Advent Calendar: All you really need to do is add some numbers to each pocket and you're good to go. This one's perfect if you have bigger gifts in mind. 
  3. Popsicle Stick Activities: Red paint, a jar, popsicle sticks and you're done! Vicky also gives 35 great Christmas activities to choose from, ranging from stuff you can do at home in your pjs to family outings.
  4. Paper Chain Christmas Tree: Take one chain off each day till Christmas morning. This is a great visual aid for younger kids that want to know how many days left till Christmas. Also, this is about as low maintenance as it gets, which is a huge bonus in my world.
  5. Mini Muffin Pan: I've seen this idea all over Pinterest and assuming you already have the muffin pan and some craft supplies this is basically free. If you want to go the non-chocolate route you could get a mini tree and put a small ornament in each tin. Most young kids are gonna try to redecorate the tree each day anyway, you may as well just embrace it and give them their own tree to play with.
  6. Colorful Envelopes: Pretty self explanatory. This is another great way to do an activities or romantic advent calendar.
  7. Toilet Paper Elves: These are so freakin' cute that even if we don't do this for our advent calendar we'll definitely be making a few just for decoration. 
  8. Free Santa Printable: For some reason Santa gets left out of a lot of the advent calendars, so I thought using his beard for the countdown was a creative idea. Also, all you need is a printer and some paper for this one. Score!  
  9. Magnetic Tins: I love that this DIY project would be reusable for years to come. I'd probably go the same route as #5 and combine small ornaments with a mini tree. Or you can use some of these non-candy ideas
What kind of Advent calendar does your family use? There are so many creative DIY ideas out there, I kinda want them all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Home Tour: Declan's Nursery

We've lived here about two and a half months now, and I have yet to share any home pictures. Probably because it took about two months to actually unpack every last box. And then there was the business of getting some prints of Declan for our walls. I think Joe may have a heart attack if another orange box from Shutterfly arrives on our doorstep. But now things are put away and the walls are cheerfully adorned, so I figured I'd kick off the home tour with Declan's room. 

I didn't originally plan a nursery for Declan because he and Ez were sharing a room at our last house. All the furniture was just arranged in the only way it would all fit and everything was very cramped and inconvenient. It just wasn't the best setup. Now they each have their own room and I think it makes life and sleep schedules much easier. 

Declan's room is probably my favorite room in the house. I took the mom initiative to decide that Declan loves elephants. He has no say in it, but if he sees them often enough, it may turn out to be true. His room is really bright and since Declan isn't mobile it tends to remain organized for the most part. Unlike a certain two year old's room.  Or my closet, for that matter.

One of my favorite things about his room is that there are so many handmade touches from friends and family that really show how loved Declan is. The balloons, Declan crate, and teal letters were made by my close friend Jennifer. The striped kitty on the shelf over the changing table was knitted by my sister/Aunt Anna. The blue animal print quilt hanging over the crib was made by Joe's cousin. And the elephant print was actually taken by my sister/Aunt Bianca on a recent trip to Africa. It's a three month old elephant, and I love how playful he looks. Perfect for a baby or toddler's room. You can see more of her gorgeous photos here.

Monday, November 16, 2015


By now you probably know that Joe and I love to visit college campuses that we have absolutely no affiliation with. Each campus has its own unique charm and character and we both feel at home at school. We're the sort that would be professional students if we could somehow support ourselves. You may also have picked up on the fact that we've recently become obsessed with Parenthood. So it was only logical that we had to visit UC Berkeley. ASAP. 

You know how Parenthood gives you that warm and fuzzy, perpetual fall feeling? Well that's exactly how Berkeley is. The campus is like a forest with beautiful buildings scattered between the trees. There were so many scenic tree-lined paths winding every which way and I wish we had enough time to explore each and every one. UC Berkeley is hands down my new favorite school. 

Many of the trees were turning yellow and red, which only added to the charm. We stopped on a bridge over a little creek and music started chiming from the clock tower. It was like we stepped into a freaking Disney movie. Obviously I wanted to stay forever. 

Right outside the campus there were a ton of restaurants, cafes, and shops. We grabbed some burritos and coffee and walked around a little bit before heading home. If I had to describe the town I'd say it's somewhere between hippie, sporty, nerdy, and hobo chic. We will definitely be back. 

Mr. Grabby Hands disapproves of my hat:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Rainy Day

Last weekend the weather forecast promised all kinds of rain. I know a lot of you have been dealing with tons of rain lately and you're probably sick of it, but rain is a novelty for us so we were pretty excited. If it were just me, I'd use a rainy day as an excuse to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a book or a good show. But kids disrupt that rainy day coziness by bouncing off the walls after twenty minutes of being cooped up. Even Declan gets mad if we don't go for our daily walk. So instead of staying inside we decided to throw on some hoodies, grab our umbrellas, and go out and about. 

We started off our day with brunch downtown, and since it wasn't raining yet we dined on the patio. Afterward we were going to head back home, but Ez wasn't ready to call it quits so we wandered around SJSU and let Ez burn off some energy. I don't know what it is about cloudy days but it makes everything green look even greener, so you'll have to excuse me but I couldn't help taking lots of naturey pictures. While walking around we came across this cute little cafe inside an old historic Victorian home with a friendly stray cat hanging out on the porch. Of course we had to stop in for some avocado smoothies. 

Finally we thought there was a good chance Ez would fall asleep on the ride home so we headed back. Ez fought the good fight against sleep though, even after walking a ton, so it was onto plan B: puddle splashing at the park. Nothing like lots of stomping to wear a kid out, right? Unfortunately for us our park has a really good drainage system and there weren't too many puddles to be found. Luckily we found a stray ball lying around and played umbrella baseball for a bit. Having the park all to ourselves on a weekend afternoon is practically unheard of and Ez took full advantage of splashing in what puddles we could find and just generally running around like he owned the place. 

Eventually we lured Ez back home with the promise of mac & cheese and he finally settled down for a nap so I got my rainy day wish of snuggling on the couch watching Parenthood. It was the best of both worlds.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Disney, Pt. 3: Goofy's Kitchen

On Sunday, our final day at Disneyland before our 7+ hour drive home, my mom booked us brunch reservations at Goofy's Kitchen. Let me tell you, so much has changed from last year when Ez tried to leap over the table to escape Minnie. This time he just bashfully smiled down at the table when she said hi to him and was a little awestruck to be meeting his favorite Mickey Mouse Clubhouse characters in person. 

After brunch we headed to Disney California where the grandparents offered to wear Ez out in Bugs Land while my brother and I rode Tower of Terror and Cars (my first time!). We did the single rider pass which only took fifteen minutes and we wound up on the same car anyway. I'm a little sad the height requirement was so high for that ride. Ez would've loved it, and I think the target audience should've been younger kids. Hopefully he still likes that movie once he grows half a foot!

Since we're wrapping up the Disney trip, now is as good a time as any to talk about the long road trip with a toddler and a baby. In case you're wondering how the whole "wear 'em out before the car ride" tactic went, Ez was so worn out that he took a mini nap on the walk from Disney to our car, after which he was wide awake and completely revved up for the next four hours. He spent those four hours randomly screaming for no reason at all, and demanding that Uncle Brett sing the ABCs over and over while laughing maniacally in the backseat. 

For two kids that can't really communicate with each other, I have to give them props for being an amazing tag teaming duo. If one fell asleep, the other immediately woke up. No sooner would we get one of them content and quiet and happy than the other one would pick up the slack and start screaming. I think my brother said it best when he said he had two simultaneous headaches going on in different areas of his brain at once. 

What advice do I have for anyone attempting this? Don't!! Haha...just kidding. Kinda. If you're brave enough to attempt it, then just soak up each and every moment of silence. Don't ever try to fill silence up with words. Just enjoy it. Store those quiet moments in a little box hidden away in a corner of your mind, and when all chaos breaks loose go hide in that box. 

It's possible that you may have picked up on my ever so subtle hints that the car ride was traumatizing and awful. I don't want to give the wrong impression though. I loved all my road trip mates. Thank you Uncle Brett for coming along for the ride! And while there were several hours where Declan was distraught and the rest of us were deliriously hysterical, not to mention a pit stop at a bee-infested gas station and one sketchy nighttime detour through the town we dubbed Murderville (thanks Waze), we all survived, we all recovered, and if I had to do it over again I would, because our Disney trip was just that fun. Am I planning another trip for the near future? No. But I would go back and do it again that one time. 

And that wraps up our Halloween Disney trip. A very bittersweet one, because our annual passes expire in December and we won't be renewing them. In case you missed it, you can read about Mickey's Halloween Party here, and day 2 here. Until we meet again, Disneyland!

Cutest lil Goofy ever.

And just for fun, here's a little video of a delirious Ez cracking up for no reason at all toward the end of our first car trip: