Friday, September 30, 2011

Owen reading

Caught Owen reading a book this morning in his own make-believe language.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

First preschool Field Trip ~ Reston Zoo

The rain held out this morning so that we were able to head to the Reston Zoo for Owen's first Little Sprouts Field Trip! He had so much fun! Vivian took a little morning nap on the drive there, so she was up and able to enjoy the field trip too (although she didn't know what to think about all the animals her brother was feeding.)

Grandma and Poppy left this morning to head back to Hershey. They were so helpful when they were here - we miss them already! Lucky for us, Ben gets home today! Owen can't wait to show him his new big boy room that Grandma helped us design. (pictures on the way - it's almost done.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grandma & Poppy are here!

Ben left for a business trip on Monday evening, so my mom and dad came down from Hershey to spend a few days with us. Yesterday we just hung out at home since it was rainy and yucky out. But it cleared up this afternoon, so after the kiddos woke up from their afternoon naps, we drove over to one of Owen's favorite playgrounds - the Fire Truck playground, as he calls it - to run around before dinner.

Vivi LOVES the swings as much as her big brother does!

It was a fun hour at the playground and then it was time to head home for dinner.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bear bottom

Aunt Hillary picked out these adorable jammies for Owen. When I first saw them, I thought they looked big, but they fit him perfect. He probably won't be able to wear them much longer since he's growing fast, but we'll definitely be saving them for Miss Vivian.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ruffle bottom

Vivian loves to crawl over to the sliding glass door in our kitchen to stand up and look outside. That is, when we leave the baby gate open.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday Owen!!!

I cannot believe that our baby is 3 years old today! Where has the time gone?!?!

He has changed our lives in so many ways. I cannot imagine my life without him in it, and yet, I often stop what I'm doing to stare at him in amazement. He is half me and half Ben ~ we created him and he's this incredible little person. I love seeing him grow up, but at the same time, I wish he could stay my baby forever.

I wish I could write more mushy stuff, but I have to go make more cake pops for him to take in to preschool tomorrow. I guess I'll end on this note:

I love being Owen's Mommy.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Owen's 3rd Birthday party!

Our little man turns 3 years old tomorrow! We wanted to have his party on the weekend so that our friends and family could join us, so we had the shin-dig today at one of Owen's favorite places: Frying Pan Farm in Herndon.

The party was a hit! I was a little stressed during, as we had to time things just right for the hay ride and the merry-go-round, not to mention the fact that I only packed enough plates for pizza and not cake (thank you to my wonderful husband for running out to the closest store to grab some!), but everything ended up coming together and I think everyone had a really fun time. My mom made him an adorable blue shirt with a #3 racecar on it which he LOVED wearing. And if you asked him how old he was, his response was/is: "Three in September!". :) Now that the day has come and he really is 3, I'm working on teaching him, "I'm 3 years old!". Ha!

My only regret was that we did not get a family picture. :( I was too busy running around orchestrating things that I completely forgot. Talk about mommy guilt. His past two birthdays we've taken lots of pictures, but it just didn't happen this year. Lesson learned. Here are some of the great pics I did take and love:

Thank you to all our friends and family for coming to Owen's birthday party and for all the fun gifts! You made Owen's day super special!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vivian's 9-month checkup

Vivi had her 9-mo checkup yesterday. We have a healthy, growing girl on our hands! Her stats:

Weight ~ 21 pounds, 13.2 ounces (90%)
Height ~ 28 & 12 inches (75-90%)
Head ~ 18 inches (90%)

Vivi got two shots and was a trooper. She only cried for a few minutes and stopped once she got ahold of her paci.

Her pediatrician said we should start doing three meals a day, and that we could begin to give her tiny pieces of whatever food we are eating. So tonight for dinner I gave her some bits of Ben's chili and shredded cheddar cheese - she loved it!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Taste test

I decided to try my hand at making cake pops for Owen's birthday party this coming weekend. Ben smartly suggested that I do a practice run. Thank goodness I took his advice. The first batch was definitely a learning experience.

To make them, you bake a cake then let it cool. You then use a fork to crumble up the cake and mix it with 1/2 can of frosting. (I did it the easy way by using store-bought cake mix and frosting, but you could of course make them from scratch and I'm sure the pops would come out even more delicious.) Once you get the cake and frosting formed into a dough, you then shape it into balls the size of a golf ball, put them on a cookie sheet, and pop them into the freezer for 20 minutes or so. Then you melt chocolate (I used candy melts from a craft store's cake decorating section) and dip the cake balls into it, sprinkle it with sprinkles, and let dry so the chocolate hardens.

Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, the cake balls kept breaking off the sticks, so I had to try to reform them into smaller balls. That helped, but I then found that I couldn't get them to dry standing upright, so I had to put them on a cookie sheet to try which flattened the top. Good thing for a trial run.

Owen was my taste-tester and I think the cake pops passed the test. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First day of Preschool

Owen started preschool today at Little Sprouts! Since I'm staying home for now, we knew we wanted Owen to have some sort of preschool experience this year since he loves the socialization and enjoys learning. So I found an awesome in-home preschool really close to home which is the perfect size with great teachers and it's very affordable. We signed him up back in June to reserve his spot for fall, and this summer he went to summer camp one day a week there which got him excited about going back to start school.

He has school on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9am-12pm and then he goes to "Mom's Morning Out" on Wednesdays at the same time. I wanted to give him consistency in his schedule instead of having one day on and one day off, since he seems to do much better with routine. Plus, it gives me a few hours of one-on-one time with Vivian which is really nice.

Each week they do a different letter of the alphabet and on Thursdays the kids bring in an item from home that starts with that letter to share with the class. They do tracing letters, sing songs, play games, and read stories. He is in heaven. I'm excited about it because Miss Karlene only does one class per school year and then follows them until they leave for Kindergarten. She has 8 kids in the class of 3-yr olds, and next year she'll do a 4-yr old class. I can't believe he'll be starting Kindergarten in 2 years. He's growing up too fast!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Owen learns to ride

My friend Andrea recently posted about how Olivia has been riding her tricycle outside lately, and she's really been having fun with it. When I saw her video, I remembered that we had given Owen a trike for his 2nd birthday, and he had not yet learned how to ride it. I guess I thought he may have been traumatized by the little accident last year when he took off down the driveway without a helmet on. I guess I wasn't super excited about it because of that, and had kindof forgotten about the trike.

Today was the perfect afternoon to put Vivi in the Bjorn and walk over to our little playground to teach Owen how to ride his trike. The playground has a big tennis court and a basketball court, which are perfect for trike riding because they're nice and flat. There were kids on the tennis court, so we took over the basketball court. I gave him a few pushes from behind, told him to push the pedals, and he would go a few feet. After awhile he really got the hang of it and could keep himself going and even start from a stop on his own. He picked up on it so quickly - I was very impressed!

It taught me that kids are resilient and they easily forgive and forget. So I shouldn't hold off on something they would really enjoy because of something that happened in the past. Because chances are, they've long forgotten about it. :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Vivian is 9 months old!

Happy 9 months Vivi!!!

Here's what she's been up to this month:

* Wearing 12-mo and 12-18mo clothes
* Wearing size 5 diapers
* Drinking 26-28 oz of formula a day
* Eating fruit in the morning, veggie at night
* LOVES, LOVES, LOVES eating Cheerios - (little Miss Independent!)
* Drinks water from a sippy - both the regular sippy and the straw sippy
* Sleeps with her paci and sleepy giraffe and we added another lovie blankie to her crib with silky edges and she loves it too
* Still is our serious baby - such a tough cookie - challenging to get her to belly laugh or smile at strangers who come up to us in stores to say she's cute
* CANNOT STAND having her diaper changed most of the time - squirmy doesn't even come close to describing it
* Crawling everywhere and pulls up on all furniture
* Started using the walker toy to practice walking
* Babbles and makes other sounds to let us know she's trying to talk
* Her favorite playmate is Owen, even when he's a little rough-and-tumble with her

I can't believe she'll be a toddler in 3 short months! :-0

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Heading home

This morning we were up at the crack of dawn to drive from Sonoma to SFO for our flight home. It was neat seeing the fog over the valley and then seeing the orange sun pop up. I snapped some pictures on the way to the airport.
We made it in plenty of time to drop off the rental, check in (the baggage check guys got a 5-pack of craft beer courtesy of Ben since our bag was overweight), go through security, get to the gate and grab breakfast and books for the flight.

The flight actually went by pretty quick. We landed around ten of seven and took the train over to baggage claim. Amazingly our three bottles of wine which were in one of our checked bags wrapped in teeshirts and jeans, made it safely to VA. YAY! Luckily there was no wait for a cab and we were home around 7:45pm. Ben's mom had taken over babysitting duties for my parents so they could head back to Hershey in order to pack up for their Alaska cruise leaving Saturday (their 40th anniversary present to each other). Vivian was already sleeping, but Owen was wide awake after having taken a 3-hour nap earlier today. We were so glad because it gave us a couple of hours to hang out with him before he had to go to bed.

We want to thank Grandma Killi and Poppy for babysitting this week so that we could make the trip, and Grandma Marshall for her help this evening. Without you guys this vacation would not have been possible. It was a nice little break and a fun way for Ben and I to celebrate our 8-yr anniversary. Thank you!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sonoma - day 2

Happy Birthday Mom!!! Hope the grandkids are behaving for you.

We picked another five wineries for today and started off right after breakfast. (Nothing like a glass of wine at 10:15am!)

Schug was first - small, but nice wines.

Then we visited Cline. Clearly, I did a terrible job of picture-taking at the beginning of the day since I only had two pictures from the first two wineries. Cline was very busy - unfortunately we were there at the same time as a tour bus. But we liked their wines. Not enough to buy any though. Onward!

The third winery was Jacuzzi, which is owned by the Cline family. They had a huge room where they sold specialty olive oil and you could try any of the varieties so Ben and I started there. That was fun, but I was nervous about traveling with it, so we opted not to purchase any. Their tasting room was really big and we really liked their wines. I especially liked their dessert wine which I tasted in a chocolate shot glass - yum!

Next we went to Gloria Ferrar which is actually a champagnery. Again, I did not take enough pictures to justify the beautiful view from their patio. We enjoyed a glass of champagne and spiced almonds sitting out on the terrace. It was lovely.

Lastly, we picked Ravenswood since we recognized the name and wanted to see what their wines were like. I was a little freaked out by the "Caution - Rattlesnake Area" sign on the walk up to the tasting room. Luckily we didn't see any.

We chose a pizza spot for lunch and we almost had the restaurant to ourselves.

Another great afternoon for a nap. I had to wake Ben up so that we could pick someplace to go for dinner. We decided to head up to Healdsburg since we had heard so many great things about the Healdsburg Bar and Grill. We took the long way there, which ended up being very scenic. By the time we got there, we were starving. The food was amazing and I spotted a frozen yogurt place for dessert, so we did that too. The square was quiet, so it was a nice spot to enjoy our froyo. I didn't take many pictures tonight, but did snap this one of the froyo place - Snowbunny.
I called my mom to wish her a happy birthday and heard that they got an Elmo cake at Wegman's to celebrate. They had to convince Owen it wasn't his birthday. :)

It was the perfect way to wrap up our 2.5 days in Sonoma. We got back to the B&B, packed up, and set our alarms for tomorrow - we're heading home bright and early.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Murphy's on the square

We got to the Farmer's Market just as it was finishing up. We were able to walk around to check out all the vendors before grabbing a bench in the rose garden where we ate the rest of our cheese and crackers from lunch and finished off the bottle of Chard.

Some folks we met during the day said that after the market was over, the party continued at Murphy's, so we headed over there for some live music and dinner. I had some oysters from the grill and a cup of beef stew, while Ben had garlic fries. It was a relaxing way to finish up the day.

So many wineries, so little time!

Breakfast was at 9am, and we ate until we were stuffed: blueberry pancakes with walnuts on top, sausage, and cantaloupe was on the menu served by our host Darla. Then we went back to our room to plan out our route for the day.

Everywhere we drove, this is what you saw when you looked out the window:

Ben had chosen five vineyards that were "must-see" based on feedback on a Sonoma online forum, and we were not disappointed.

Ledson was first, and the castle was its claim to fame I think. The wines were good, but we only purchased one bottle. The grounds were beautiful and our host did something cool which we had never noticed in our experience wine tasting: he "seasoned" the glass by taking a small pour of wine and rolling the glass back and forth several times on its side. He said it coated all the impurities on the glass so that you would only taste the wine. Interesting. Just think of all those impurities we've been tasting in the past! I took a picture.

Next we went to St Francis which also had a beautiful tasting room and grounds. (I'm sure the gorgeous weather only enhanced our experience!) We liked their wines too, but nothing jumped out at us as amazing, so we kept going.

Then it was on to Chateau St Jean where we loved the wine so much, we bought half a case - an assortment of their wines which were on the tasting menu. The Merlot has already been gifted to my mom for her birthday (tomorrow!). :)

Kunde was our forth winery of the day, and we had perfect timing because after our tasting was over, we were able to join in on the free tour of the cave wine cellar where they store the wines as they are developing. It was really cool.

It was past time to get lunch. Ben knew this because I had started to become cranky. It was now almost 3pm and we hadn't eaten anything other than crackers since breakfast which was 6 hours earlier. We drove over to the market which was recommended to us and picked out a sandwich, crackers, cheese, and water. (Ben also just had to have this special craft beer 6-pack, more on that later).

The last stop of the day was Benzinger and it was fun. We bought a bottle of their Chardonnay to have with lunch. We were huge fans of the Sonoma Chardonnays. It seemed that every winery we went to had one that we really liked.

By the end of the day we were definitely ready for a long nap. We woke up refreshed and ready to hit up the Farmer's Market on the square before picking a place for dinner.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wine country - here we come!

This morning we stopped by Erin and Francisco's new house for the post-wedding brunch on our way to Sonoma. It was nice to be able to see everyone one more time before heading out.

Ben was very good (despite my terrible navigating attempts) at getting us from place to place. We crossed over the Golden Gate bridge and within 45 minutes, we were entering Sonoma County.
The temperature rose about 20 degrees on the drive, which was a welcome change given how I packed.

Our first stop was Viansa Vineyards, and we did a tasting and chose a bottle of Chardonnay to enjoy while we ate a picnic lunch. The view was incredible. We had visited this same winery seven years ago when we were in San Fran for Alex & Marisa's wedding, so it was neat being there again.
From there we went straight to the B&B to check in and relax a little before venturing out to the town square to walk around. We picked a Mexican place for dinner and it was very good. A quiet evening to rest up for a long day of wine tasting tomorrow. :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

San Fran trip - Wedding Day

This morning we walked around the city to find a spot for breakfast. We saw a beautiful art display at the Union Square park, ate at a cute diner called Roxanne's, then walked through Chinatown on our way to Fisherman's Wharf. There weren't as many sea lions as there were 7 years ago when we were there for Alex & Marisa's wedding, but we took some pictures and video to show Owen when we got home.

Then we hopped a cable car back to the hotel so that we could get ready for the wedding. The ceremony was held at the Presidio Chapel, and it was the perfect spot. Erin was stunning in her gown and the service was beautiful. They took pictures outside afterwards and then we had some time before the reception, so we headed out with Ben's cousins and Aunt Nanc and Uncle Myron for sushi. Uncle Myron was sneaky and grabbed the check to treat us all.

The reception was at the Foreign Cinema and it was incredible. The band played great music the entire night and the food was amazing. Everyone danced and had so much fun. It went by so fast and before we knew it, we were saying goodbye. Until the next family wedding ~ Evie and David in May 2012!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

San Fran trip - Rehearsal Dinner

We're here in sunny (chilly) San Francisco for the wedding of Erin (Ben's cousin) and Francisco. The flight was fast and we got our rental car (thank you Lindsey!) pretty quickly compared to the other rental car agency lines.

Finding our hotel proved to be a bit challenging since we opted for no GPS in the car and neither of us has an iphone. But we eventually made it there, checked in, and promptly headed over to the restaurant across the street for happy hour. We met a really nice local guy who gave us a bunch of info about the city. He even wrote us directions to get to the MUNI (their metro comprised of cable cars which run above and below ground) to take it over to the rehearsal dinner at Park Chow.

I was a little shy about taking pictures that night, so I only have a few. But we had a great time catching up with family and meeting Erin's fiance Francisco. The food was amazing and we were all stuffed by the end. Ben was able to figure out how to catch the cable car back and decided to call it a night when we got back to the hotel since I was still on East Coast time. Looking forward to exploring the city and the wedding and reception tomorrow!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Packing for San Fran and Sonoma

Drove back home from Hershey yesterday afternoon so that I could do laundry and pack up for our trip to San Francisco tomorrow. Grandma and Poppy are going to stay with the kids. Looking forward to having a little break, but I know we're going to be itching to get home by the end of the 6 days....