Monday, February 26, 2018

Springtime at Disneyland

We decided to extend our long President's Day weekend with a three day trip to Disneyland....along with everybody else on the planet. It was crowded and chilly by Southern California standards, and half our favorite rides were closed, BUT, the kids didn't notice any of that. The world through their eyes is such a magical place and their energy is infectious. They were bouncing with excitement from the moment we walked into the park and are still going strong four days after getting home. Ez has been reenacting the Flik's Flyers ride and demanding "take a picture of me!" You don't have to ask me twice, kid. 

Despite a few snags, everything was blooming and gorgeous, we wound up finding new favorite rides - hello, Rockets & Buzz Lightyear, and we got in some quality time with Grandma (aka, Joe's mom). Ez got his fill watching the Radiator Springs Racers (yes, he still prefers watching to actually riding), Decky got to ride Monsters Inc. on repeat at the end of each night, and Joe and I got to sneak off for a mini Space Mountain date (thanks Grandma!). We were all happy campers. 

Decky's top 5 favorite Disney moments:
  1. Touching DJ (the musical car) - two different dancers tried to intersect him and block him, but he was not to be deterred. The look on his face afterward was priceless (see above photo) and he was so proud of himself.
  2. Stealing: a popcorn bucket, balloon weights, a kid's Buzz Lightyear doll right out of his hand, strollers, and balloons...seriously, this kid is a klepto and nothing is safe within his reach.
  3. Running right onto the Monsters Inc. ride at the end of each night. The idea of actually waiting in line is lost on him so for once nobody was reigning him in and dragging him back to his place in line.
  4. Any and every flying type ride.
  5. Getting a new balloon and immediately getting to work popping it (fyi - Disney will exchange popped balloons).

Ez's Top 3 Disney Moments:
  1. Beelining straight for the Radiator Springs Racers the moment we got there. 
  2. Meeting Woody & Jessie from Toy Story - aka, his idols.
  3. Somehow talking us into way too many new toys. He is an excellent negotiator.
  4. Becoming a space ranger and defeating Zurg (on the Buzz Lightyear ride...can you tell what our current favorite movie is?)
  5. Monster's Inc., Flik's Flyers, and the Rockets (in that order, according to him).

And in case you were wondering what Declan and Ez's least favorite moments were, those would be the times we dragged them on Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, the six hour car ride home afterward, the time we refused to buy an $85 Mack truck (for Decky), and the time we decided to actually ride rides instead of watching Radiator Springs Racers for three hours straight. 😂

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Valentine's Day

I hope you all had the most love-filled Valentine's Day! 

Between Joe and the grandparents we were all extremely loved on yesterday. It felt like a heart-filled, extra chocolaty mini Christmas. Not only did Joe get me a gorgeous bouquet, hummingbird gifts, and lots of chocolates, but he took the kids to the playground for a few hours so I could enjoy some alone time. Best gift ever. I'm one lucky gal. 

I think my favorite part of all was this being the very first school-year Valentine's Day and all the excitement that came along with that. Ez completely embraced the Valentine's spirit of making cards and heart-shaped crafts. I'm not sure what we'll do with our mornings now that it's all over. And while he was so excited to hand out all his Valentine's I don't think he even realized that he'd be receiving cards from all his classmates as well. When we collected his Valentine's out of his art bucket and brought them home he was brimming over with excitement. And boy, did his classmates spoil him! He got stickers and stamps, temp tattoos and pencils, heart-shaped glasses and even a mini skateboard, a race car, a toy soldier (like the ones in Toy Story!!!), and, his personal fave, a little rubber ducky covered in hearts. Oh, and candy. Lots and LOTS of candy. Kids have definitely stepped up their Valentine's game since I was in school...

We capped off the evening with a low key sushi meal, Toy Story, and two boys riding that sugar high. Best Valentine's Day yet. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day! A Year's Worth of Dates

Happy Valentine's Day, my friends! We've been busy crafting away, making little pom pom love monsters and heart-shaped cards for all the kids in Ez's class, as well as felt roses for his teachers. I always remember making elaborate Valentine's Day cards with my mom growing up and I was so excited to continue this tradition with Ez and Declan once they started school. 

To celebrate this day of love, I thought it'd be fun to recap the past year's worth of date nights and weekend getaways, which don't always get a lot of mention on the blog. Fun fact: we've never hired a babysitter for Ez and Deck. Not once. Thankfully, we do have a few willing family members who take on the job for free (seriously, thank you so much!!) and we managed to do a couple getaways and staycations last year. 

First up, and I'm not sure this should really count as a date, but we like to take opportunity when it presents itself, even if we are mid-move with just hours to pack up half a household. So, in true Joe and Nina fashion, we made the most of our move last January with a mini dinner & cupcake break, followed by scrabble & wine to celebrate our new place. Cheers to that!

Last Valentine's Day we decided to go all out with a weekend getaway to Monterey, where we explored the wharf, and the beach, and, possibly my favorite part, we met a super playful otter putting on a show for us just as we were about to leave. 

In March we opted for a staycation, and wandered around Sacramento, checking out coffee houses, bookstores, the Governor's Mansion, and basically all the stuff we've always wanted to explore that don't include a playground 😉

A family trip to Disneyland may not seem like a date, BUT, if you go with enough family there's always a chance to sneak off for a mini date to ride the big kid rides while someone else watches the kids. Definitely one of our favorite date spots (as if you didn't know that already!)

Between May and June we were too busy doing family stuff for a real date night, but we made up for it in July with a movie date to see Wonder Woman and a birthday weekend getaway to Tahoe & Reno. Gambling, a cirque du soleil type performance, LOTS of good food, and kayaking - one of my favorite birthdays yet. 

September was one year married for us!! We celebrated with sushi (pretty much a given on 9 out of 10 of our date nights) and our first movie at the Tower Theater (Wind River - surprisingly good), a trip to the California Museum, and, of course, cutting into our year old cake (also surprisingly good). 

November was DISNEY WORLD!! We had a pretty good day date around Epcot, which is basically THE dream date spot. Tons of great food, drinks, and beautiful scenery. I wish we lived close enough for regular date nights there. 

Somehow, in the midst of Christmas shopping, and wrapping, and colds, and family time we snuck out to see Lady Bird, which I've already raved about on Instagram because it's all filmed in Sacramento. Being able to watch it in Tower Theater and recognize all the landmarks was such a special experience. 

And that brings us back to January, with not one, but two date nights. First up was a trip to see Star Wars, which at first we liked, but as the movie sank in, we realized we didn't like it so much after all. Then we capped the month off with another staycation where we tried a new to us restaurant and went to see the Sacramento Contemporary Dance company, followed by a cozy night watching Chicago and playing Mario Kart. 

What a year we've had! Fitting in romance between potty training, and the preschool plague, and all the other madness that comes with raising two rambunctious boys is not easy, but I'm so lucky that Joe always makes it a priority to schedule in time for just the two of us AND come up with creative date ideas. 

Happy Valentine's Day to my bff, partner in crime (and parenting), the funniest person I know, my soulmate. Men like you are one in a million, and I definitely won the lottery with you. 

PS - Did I mention how lucky I am? ❤

Monday, February 12, 2018

Ezzyisms: 4 years, 9 months

I remember back before Ez could really speak, I'd hear parents talk about the funny things their kids would say and I could NOT wait for that phase of parenthood. Well, my friends, we are finally there. Not a day goes by that Ez doesn't crack me up. Sometimes intentionally, usually not, but he has the freshest, most hilarious view of the world, and I really wish I were more on top of recording it all. The last time I did an Ezzyisms post was a whole nine months ago, which is a shame, because so many funny moments that I thought I'd remember forever have already come and gone. I mean to write them down, I really do, but, of course, I don't. Except, I finally did! A few of the funniest moments from the past few weeks made it to a notes folder on my phone, and now, finally, they're making their way to the light of day. Here's a little glimpse into Ez's world, in his own words:

  • shaking his head "I don't live in Sacramento..." <Joe> "Where do you live?" <Ez> "The playground." <Joe> "The playground??!" <Ez> "I mean, I live in a house." 
  • <trying to say Millenium Falcon> "lemony falcon" "melanie malcolm" "romero camaro" (??!)
  • "What kind of car is that?" <talking about a car that just cut me off> Me: "We'll just call it an impatient car." Ez: " daddy." 😂
  • "Babe, that's disgusting." <when Joe burps, farts, or does any other gross boy things.>
  • "We're going to the cake pop store." <aka Starbucks>
  • "Can you please stop that?" <anytime Joe or I sing>
  • "Mommy just ate it all." <EVERY time I finish a meal...he's giving me a complex>
  • "We just need a little pit stop." <whenever we stop at the gas station.>
  • <Falling asleep then suddenly waking up, giggling hysterically, and shouting> "you CAN'T fly!!!" (Toy Story)
  • <my mom, aka Gangy, asked if she and Grampa are old> "No...Gangy's not old. Grampa's old."
  • <Declan was making all kinds of random noise during a road trip> "Decky, can you NOT do that?" <a few minutes later> "Decky, you can be quiet, or you can not be loud." (such a little dipolomat, outlining all of Declan's options.)

Ez's current obsessions include:
  • Toy Story - especially when Buzz attempts to fly, and the rocket scene at the end
  • UPS trucks (????)
  • Roaming the backyard for hours at a time now that we're having Spring like weather
  • Ice Cream trucks & his toy ice cream set he got for Christmas
  • weekly 3 hour trips to Wacky Tacky (an indoor playground)
  • reading (aka, reciting by memory or being read to)
  • asking what everyone is eating all the time 
  • Star Wars, especially the droids and space ships
  • That song "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" 
  • Ice Cream sandwiches, cheetos, melon, and apples
  • Panera Bread
  • the mini carts at Trader Joe's
  • bossing his brother around
  • doing everything by himself (aka - stay away Mommy! DON'T help!)

Four, almost five has been such an age of growth for all of us. We've seen Ez branch out more than ever before, creating his own little world outside of our home, and he's doing an amazing job. He went from crying every time I dropped him off and not being able to tell me a single thing that went on at school, to excitedly telling me about his day, what games he and the other kids played, and what fun stuff they have planned for later in the week. It's like I blinked and all of a sudden he went from toddler to school aged kid. We are so, so proud of him and all the hard work he's doing each and every day.

While I sadly failed at catching all the variations of "millenium falcon" on video, I did get a few fun Ezzyisms:

Monday, January 29, 2018

Our 1 Year Sacramentoversary

Yesterday one year ago was the start of a new chapter for our little family. We woke up in San Jose to walls and walls of boxes, got ourselves an early breakfast of donuts, and got to work helping the movers load up a truck. Box by box our whole life seemed to disappear into that moving van surprisingly quickly. Then we hopped in our cars (also loaded with boxes) and made the ninety minute trek to Sacramento, to a new home that feels as perfect for us today as it did one year ago, to a new chapter of Joe working from home instead of commuting, and to lots of unknowns. I remember feeling the normal moving stress, but also butterflies of excitement because it seemed like the best next step for our family.

Ez and Declan joined us in our new house exactly one year ago (after spending the night with my parents) and they immediately made the place their own, exploring every room, closet, and cupboard, tearing through bubble wrap and packing paper, and making their own cardboard box playhouses. We walked to the neighborhood park and let them wander through the backyard, and it's safe to say they were pretty happy with the new place.

Fast forward one year into living here and Sacramento has not disappointed one bit. It's been such a great fit for our family, with plenty of outdoor adventures waiting for us, lots of kid-friendly activities, amazing restaurants and farmers markets, and parks around every corner. It somehow strikes the perfect balance of being a city with a small town mentality. Clearly I can go on and on about all the reasons I love Sacramento, but, for your sake, I'll narrow it down to my top 5 favorites in a few categories 😉

Top 5 Restaurants

  1. Coconut's Fish Cafe will always hold a special place for us, because not only is it delicious Hawaiian inspired food, but it's one of the first places we ate at here, and one we continue to go back to. 
  2. Sai Varee has some of the best Thai food (we get the salmon fried rice every time) and we seem to find ourselves coming back here at least once a month. 
  3. Bacon & Butter is tops for brunch, just ask the lines and lines of people waiting outside. Definitely get a bonut if it's on the menu (biscuit + donut) - seriously one of the best things I've ever tasted. 
  4. Fox & Goose Pub is another one of the first places we ate at and continue to go back as often as possible. Any place with vegetarian chili automatically gets 5 stars from me. Also, the ollalaberry scone + Devonshire cream is amazing (and I'm not even a huge scone fan).
  5. Baker's Donuts - it was really hard to narrow down just five places, and it's kinda weird to put a donut place on the list, BUT, Sacramento really loves donuts (they even have a donut festival) and I really love donuts, so onto the list it goes. (Fruity Pebbles is my must-have.) #basic

Top 5 Outdoor Spots 

  1. Auburn is one of our favorite hiking spots, there are tons of trails, lots of trees (and shade!), and during the summer it's the perfect place to dip our toes in the river and cool off. 
  2.  The Sacramento River was one our go to spots on the hottest summer days. It has some perfect shallow spots for wading, cooling off, splashing, and boat watching. 
  3. Consumnes River Preserve is the perfect easy but still scenic nature walk, especially if you love birds. It's flat and easy for kids, but just don't go during summer when everything is dried out and most of the birds have moved on. 
  4. Pena Adobe is new to us, but it's quickly become one of our top hiking spots. It's got cows, a tree swing, plenty of rocks to climb on, and a relatively easy (though hilly) path. 
  5. UC Davis's Arboretum is mainly on this list because we once saw a river otter swimming around, and it was the cutest thing EVER, but also because we love wandering around and and all college campuses (Sac State included!). 

Top 5 Kid Activities 

  1. Wacky Tacky is definitely top of the list if you ask Ez and Decky. This is an indoor playground that we visit once a week so the kids can run around for a few hours (yes, hours - they have boundless energy). This place has been a lifesaver on rainy days. 
  2. Wading Pools - Sacramento (and Elk Grove) have SO MANY free wading pools just for younger kids. Last summer was definitely one of our best yet because we got to go swimming almost every day. Everywhere else we've lived the pools have either cost money and/or been super crowded because there were only a couple to choose from. 
  3. Fairy Tale Town is one of those places that doesn't seem super impressive to me, but the kids go absolutely crazy there every single time and never want to leave. They also do a lot of fun holiday events (like trick or treating, or the Grinch + fake snow) so that wins them extra points from me. 
  4. The Sacramento Zoo is not super huge, but they have giraffes and big cats, so that's good enough for us. Bonus points that we can see the giraffes from the street every time we drive by. 
  5. The train museum is pretty amazing for kids, and even if you don't want to pay to go inside there are a bunch of old trains you can check out right by the river as well. 

Top 5 Holiday Events 
  1. Old Town's Festival of Lights is a must see. Preferably several times throughout the Christmas season. We love the little bits of Sacramento history they work into the story, and, of course, the lights and fake snow. 
  2. Bastaio Farms Goblin Gardens Pumpkin Patch. Halloween is the BEST time to live in a farming community, and this past fall we had our pick of corn mazes and pumpkin patches (we literally went at least twice a week all of October), but, our favorite was definitely Bastaio farms. The corn maze was the perfect size (big enough to get lost in, small enough to not take ALL DAY to get back out), the pumpkins were prime, and the giant tubs of corn kernels and mini tractors to ride were just icing on the cake. Ez still asks to go back weekly.
  3. Fab 40s Christmas Lights - Ez and I have FINALLY found a town that matches our enthusiasm for Christmas. Yes, we've lived in other towns with neighborhoods that decorate, but, what sets Sacramento apart is the festivity of everyone wandering around looking at the lights. It's like an impromptu parade/party every night of December leading up to Christmas. Horse drawn carriages with lights on the horses, old vintage cars all decorated and driving up and down the streets, even Santa Clause riding a lit up bicycle. Not to mention the houses are gorgeous and so festive. Just writing this is making me miss Christmas all over again... 🎄
  4. Noon Year's Eve at the Crocker Art Museum was the ideal new year's celebration for kids. It had all the classic New Year's Eve stuff: a ball drop, a countdown, dancing and a DJ, giant bubbles (if that's not part of your traditional New Year's Eve, then you're missing out), and, the best part? It's all takes place at noon. This past New Year's Eve was the first time we got to really celebrate the New Year with the kiddos, and we all had the most fun ever. 
  5. Global Winter Wonderland was such a good way to extend the holidays a teensy bit for us. They had amazing light displays set up to look like various landmarks from different countries, some of which you could actually climb on or walk through. 

Top 5 Sacramento Memories 
  1. Ez's first day at school is one of those milestones that snuck up on us all too quickly. Schools were one of the first things we looked at when we moved and after lots and lots of searching we finally found the perfect preschool for Ez, which he seems to love (most days). 
  2. Mini kid-free staycations with Joe. As much as we love exploring with the kids, every now and then we love to drop them off with the grandparents and have a night to ourselves exploring the less kid-friendly aspects of Sacramento. Aka, drinking fancy lattes out of real mugs, eating at places that don't specialize in mac & cheese (HELLO sushi!), and wandering around without any real plans, just checking out new to us places and events like the governor's mansion, or the Sacramento Contemporary Dance Company. 
  3. Garbage day!! It's basically a national holiday in our house, and this is our first place since the boys have gotten into garbage trucks where we actually put the trash cans out front (as opposed to the big communal trash bins). 
  4. The hours and hours of backyard family time we've enjoyed. This is also the first really functional backyard we've ever had, and I don't know how we ever survived without one. From sprinklers and a wading pool during summer, digging in the dirt during spring, and splashing puddles during winter, we've already built so many great memories out there. 
  5. Technically this would have probably happened anywhere we lived, but watching Ez and Declan's relationship grow this past year has been amazing. Maybe it's the space in this house for them to run laps, or the fact that we have five different parks within walking distance from us, but they love chasing each other, falling on the floor giggling hysterically for no reason at all, and sliding down the slide together, and wrestling...ok, usually only one of them likes that. 
Sick of hearing about my love of Sacramento yet? You guys have no idea how hard it was to narrow down our favorites to these few. And I didn't even mention the Capitol Building, or the Tower Bridge, or all the quirky little used book stores that have sparked a full on book collecting obsession in our house. One of our favorite parts of living here is that Sacramento does such a great job of fostering community, with tons of events and festivals all throughout the year, and we do our best to explore it all. If you're not completely sick of Sacramento yet, check out Lady Bird for a little glimpse into some of our favorite landmarks. Has anyone seen it already? How'd you like it? Also, what's your favorite thing about the town you live in? 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Family Goals: More Walks Together

Some of our family goals are already slipping a bit (spending less at Starbucks 👎), but others I think we're really kicking a$$ at. Family walks, for one thing. Truth be told, winter and fall are my favorite seasons for walks. There's beauty in every season, but something about bare branches against gray skies gets me every time. To steal a line from Anne Shirley:

That being said, it can be very easy to get into the habit of just staying in and snuggling on cold dreary days, (I know you East Coasters are laughing at me right now ❄❄❄) so we're trying to be deliberate about getting out as often as we can and exploring new places. 

One gem of a hike that we recently discovered has a lake, rolling hills, cows, (yes, COWS!), and, the icing on the cake, a swing on the most climbable tree at the top of the prettiest hill. We were all in love and will definitely be going back. Also, proud parent moment that both boys - well, technically all three boys - walked the whole three miles without having to be carried, or even whining too much about it. 

Have you and your family decided to focus on any health oriented goals this year? Less sugar is another one, for us. And getting in all our yearly checkups, which we're so good about with the kiddos, but tend to forget for ourselves. Cheers to a healthy year, my friends!