May 2, 2016

A Peek at Our Week: April 25 - May 1

This was just the chilled out kind of week that I love the most.  We painted our fingernails, played some games, watched the ducklings in our neighborhood, went to Mornings with Moms at school, had a few playdates, and watched a movie.  The one part of our week that was not at all chilled out was the severe weather that had us hanging out in the closet for part of Tuesday night.  Oklahoma in the springtime.  *sigh*

This is me headed to school drop off on Monday.
Sometimes you gotta throw a sweatshirt on over your nightgown and go.
Shoes are optional.

Mondays are hard.

We made it through Monday and rewarded ourselves with afternoon manicures.

This week I broke out an old favorite: The Picnic Game.
My kids all love this one at this age.

In the closet on Tuesday evening.

These two slept through it.
But Kate was a little worried.
Sweet Momo.

Telephone poles were down all over town, and more than one tree was completely uprooted.
Thankfully our house is several miles from here.

Our book club book for the month of April was heavy, but awesome.
Thus all the dogears.

Our drive to school every morning.
We love our tree tunnel!

This week Annie invented Colors the Cat.
Colors has purple fur, a yellow chest, green paws, blue legs, and a pink tail.
This was 100% her creation, and now she insists we address her as Colors 100% of the time.

We love our neighborhood walks.

This picture blew me away.
She looks so big.

Shenanigans at Mornings with Moms.

My Ella Mae.
Hand on hip, wearing her shades.
Watch out for this one.

This girl loved the heart glasses.
And wiping the filthy floor with her beloved blue blanket.

My ladies and me.


Messy playdate with a friend!

Our attempt at berry picking was thwarted, so we went to the cinema instead.

Zootopia got ten thumbs up from our crew.

Snapping after church.
I fear I love snapchat a little too much.

Lazy Sunday afternoon.
So fun to see the love between the two little sisters.

And that's our week!

April 26, 2016

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

While Nick and I were footloose and fancy free in California, my mom and my sister kept our three children.

This was a dream come true for me.  As a general rule I have trouble leaving my kids, but this rule does not apply when I leave them with my mom or my sister.  My only fear when leaving my little ladies with my big ladies was that Ella, Kate, and Annie would never want to go back to their boring old mom.  My mom and my sister are just that awesome.

Because these awesome women know me, they sent me pics all weekend and made sure that I got to FaceTime with my girlies every day.  A few of their gems are below.

My big girls with their awesome Aunt Teene.

Impossible to say who was loving it more, my daughters or my sister.

I got to experience all the laughs with none of the cleanup.

Funny or disturbing?
You be the judge.

Two very tired two-year-olds.
Callen and Annie were bingo-ed out!

Cousins on the couch!
Brennan, Price, Kate, Ella, Annie, and Callen.

On Saturday my mom and dad came to my sister's house to enjoy those six gorgeous grands.

My mom had Monday with this little fairy all to herself.

And we got to do this every day.

I cannot explain how amazing it was to know that my kids were having a blast and being loved on while I enjoyed three responsibility-free days.  

My mom and my sister.  I cannot thank them enough.  I owe them everything.

I seriously don't think I could do life without these two amazing women.  

April 25, 2016

A Peek at Our Week: April 18 - 24

Any week that begins in northern California is a good week, but this week only got better as the days went by.  The everyday routine with my ladies, evenings with all five of us together, awesome friends here for supper on Friday evening, and then the entire weekend spent gardening.  My fingernails are still black around the edges, and I couldn't be happier!

Last day in Cali with my love.

This is my crew on Tuesday afternoon!
We're all together again, we're here, we're here!

After three days of pleasing only myself, I was quickly reminded of the crazy demands of a two-year-old.

I have taken thousands of pictures of Annie eating because she is my least picky eater.
She polished off her avocado and scrambled eggs and proceeded to eat about a quarter of my "roll" (omelet).

On this day she at an entire Philadelphia roll plus one piece of my spicy salmon roll.
And just like that I figured out why she referred to an omelet as a roll.  :)

Friday was Mattie's birthday!
I didn't get a picture of the birthday girl, but we made her cupcakes.

Cupcake action shot by Kate.
Confession: Thusie did not get to eat cupcakes.
But our guests enjoyed them and we did sing her happy birthday.

Krispy Kremes for Saturday breakfast!
We're so health-conscious here!

Kate shows off her new hibiscus.

Admiring our handiwork.
All nine garden beds are set for summer!

Kate's on poop patrol!
She ASKED if she could do this and was disappointed when she didn't find any poop.

Patio snuggles with my middle.

Sunday morning sunshine.
The two littles play with blocks.

Sleepy early morning eyes.
I love this man and the munchkin in his lap!

Ella is conspicuously absent from just about every photo these days.
She's either reading a book, playing piano, working on art projects on her own, or sleeping.
I think we're getting an early glimpse into living with a teenager.
After our leisurely start on Sunday we had to hustle to get to church on time.  Annie insisted on going to Godly Play with Ella and Kate during the service (she did great!) and Nick and I got to enjoy an entire message with no distractions.  What a great way to end the week!

April 22, 2016

Sonoma Valley 2016

Nick and I have been thinking about going away without our kids ever since we decided to move back to America.  That's right, we've been thinking about a couples getaway for well over a year.  *sigh*

We are not typically indecisive about trip planning.  During our years in Europe we sat down in early January and mapped out our travel plans for the entire year.  Our goal was always one trip a month, so that was a lot of planning!  But this one was harder.  We have never traveled without our kids.  We don't even know HOW to travel without our kids.  We tossed around a dozen ideas.  Chicago.  Boston.  Miami.  Seattle.  Mexico.  But we felt badly about going any of those places because we knew our girls would love to go too.

Then Nick had an unexpected opportunity to visit the Bay Area for a computer-related thingy, and we realized we'd been given a golden opportunity.  I could tag along and we could extend the trip to include time in wine country!  And the girls wouldn't mind one iota  And I would be in heaven because...WINE!

Just like that, it was settled.  Three days split between Sonoma Valley and the Bay Area with no one to please but ourselves.  Yes, please.

Warning:  I got a little snappy on this trip.  A photographer I am not, so crappy snaps suit me just fine.  I knew I would want to frame at least one decent photo of my boyfriend and me, so we did have other people take a handful of good quality photos.  But most of the record of this trip is via snapchat.  And that is a-ok by me.

Leavin' on a jet plane.

Since our flight was scheduled to arrive around midnight west coast time (it actually arrived well after 1am) we stayed in an airport hotel.  It was not fancy in the least, but it was clean and the bed was comfy.  We were very happy that we didn't have to drive at what felt to our exhausted bodies like 4am.  We woke up in full-on vacay mode on Saturday morning. 

Leaving the hotel and hitting the road.

We hopped in the rental car and took the scenic route to Sonoma.

It doesn't get much more scenic or iconic than this!

Our first stop was Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards.  After living in Germany's Rhinegau region (i.e. where some of the best Riesling in the world is grown and produced) for three years, I had no desire to tour another vineyard or see another fermentation tank.  I wanted top-rated bubbles, all the charcuterie I could gobble, and views for days.  Glorious Gloria Ferrer did not disappoint.

So excited about this flight!

I love everything about this man.
It takes a special guy to embrace the pink and be a hero for all four ladies in his life.

A superb flight plus cheese plus cured meats plus local olive oil.

It was 11:52 and Nick thought it was afternoon.  :)

So happy to see that face across the table.

Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards
16 April 2016

After all those delicious bubbles, we dropped our bags and our car at our airbandb accommodation and ubered  to Gundlach Bundschu for more grapey goodness.  We snagged a bottle of their new season of rose (we weren't driving!) and then scored what is probably the most amazing view I've ever taken in.  Our picnic table was completely surrounded by trees at the back, so we could not see another human being.  It was seclusion at its finest and my hubs and I laughed until our cheeks ached (topics covered: machine guns, unicorns, beach bums), reminisced about falling in love and then growing even more deeply in love, and generally solved all the problems of the world.

My view.
Or I should say Nick's view.

My view.
For real this time.

This 35 year old lady had had enough!

After slowing making our way through a bottle of wine, we headed back to our room for a well-deserved nap.  Our dinner reservation was for 8pm, so we had a couple of hours to rest before we went out for the evening.  We fell asleep at 4:30pm...and we woke up SIX HOURS LATER.  We slept through Nick's alarm, through several texts from my mom, and through a call from the restaurant asking us to confirm our booking.


Nick and I woke up feeling something similar to panic at 10:30pm.  We were bummed that we had missed dinner (we had read so many great things about El Dorado Kitchen!) and we felt somehow that we had failed.  How pathetic must we be to have failed at vacay?!

Then we took a step back.

 Perhaps this is what parents of three young kids do when they get away from their children for the first time ever.  We hold off on amazing restaurants and a rare opportunity for daytime sex IN ORDER TO SLEEP.  What did we do on our vacay?  We traveled halfway across the continent just to get 14 uninterrupted hours of shut eye.  Incredible, fabulous, mind-blowing sleep.  Yes indeed.

The up-side of going to bed at 4:30pm is that you wake up feeling absolutely amazing at 6am the next day.  I swear Nick looked 10 years younger.  We parked at the square in Sonoma for breakfast and enjoyed one of the most amazing creations on earth: The California breakfast sandwich from the Sunflower Cafe.  Heaven on a slice of multigrain, I tell ya.

Sunflower Cafe, Sonoma, CA.

We woke up at 6am.
We are rocking this vacay.

Enjoying a morning on Sonoma's town square.

We drove out of Sonoma and up Moon Mountain for our appointment at Repris.  This botique winery came highly recommended by my brother- and sister-in-law, and they never steer us wrong.  This was an amazing experience in every way.  From the drive up Moon Moutain to our tour of the caves and vineyards to the tasting at the end, Repris was awesome.  The delicious wines only made the experience better.  Amazing.

Had to stop on our drive up Moon Mountain to take in the views.

At Repris!
Our tasting was in that tower with the 180 degree view of the property.

He's a caveman.
With wine.

In the caves with my love.

Repris Winery
17 April 2016

After Repris we drove to their commercial wine bar on Sonoma's square.  The wines at Pangloss Cellars aren't quite as mind-blowing as those at Repris, but they are pretty fabulous in and of themselves.  Best of all, you don't have to be members to enjoy their wines.  If you're in Sonoma, this tasting room is definitely not to be missed.

I think that says it all.

We are now Repris members.
But you don't have to join in order to enjoy Pangloss Cellars.

I'm not going to lie.  After two days of wine, this old lady was DONE.  I cannot drink in the daytime.  I couldn't even do it in college, I most definitely cannot handle it now.  We got in the car to drive to San Jose and all I wanted was greasy, salty, nasty food and to never so much as look at a bottle of wine for at least a solid month week day few hours.  (What can I say.  I love wine.)

My darling designated driver (Nick) drove us to San Jose, stopping twice.  Once for beef jerky and water, again for In-and-Out Burger.  Both of these stops were amazing.  There's a time and a place for elegantly prepared organic farm-to-table dining, and there's a time and a place for the kind of mass-produced, insanely processed, nitrite-laden, sodium nightmare you can only find here in 'Merica.  I can be a massive food snob, but give me a couple of glasses of wine and I'll eat pretty much anything.

That's right.
Nasty food after wine in the afternoon.

Our Sunday evening was a social affair.  We met up with some awesome friends who lived in Germany and then in England at the same time as us.  Alicia and Ryan had moved from England to California just over two years ago, and we had a great time catching up, laughing about our difficult adjustment to Stateside living, and learning about life on the west coast.  It was an excellent evening and so nice to know we always have friends to visit in the Bay Area.

And speaking of friends in the Bay Area, our second engagement of the evening was with the ultimate friend: Nate Dogg E Fresh!  Nathan was in town for business, so we had a glass of wine with my favorite of all Nick's brothers and laughed until our cheeks hurt.  It's pretty awesome to spend an evening on the patio in the perfect weather with two of your favorite people on earth.  We missed Mary, who was busy holding down the fort in STL, but we were thankful for the chance to spend the evening with Nate.

Monday was Nick's work day.  He geeked out with fellow coders while I explored the area and shopped on Santana Row.  

Trust me, we were not the only ones taking selfies outside of Netflix headquarters.

Shopping on Santana Row is more glamorous than it sounds.
My one and only purchase was this pencil sharpener.

After Nick's big day at the office, we celebrated our trip with bubbles!

And pizza.

This dinner.  We enjoyed the food and wine immensely, but the best part was the conversation.  It was a discussion I'm not likely to forget any time soon.  The hubs and I were able to get some thoughts and feelings out there in the open that had needed serious discussion for quite some time.  We turned out to be of the same frame of mind and in the same place emotionally.  It was an excellent moving forward conversation, which seemed appropriate for the final evening of our getaway.  It's amazing how focused a conversation can be when there aren't three little people wanting some part of our attention!  

Reality was sinking in that this was our last day.
Paradise can't last forever.

We rallied with a little bit more shopping.

And strolling on Santana Row.
I would go anywhere with this guy.

We called it a night relatively early since we had an early morning flight back to Tulsa.  We were sad to say goodbye to California, but we were so excited about the prospect of seeing our kiddos.  Absence does make the heart grow fonder.  :)

I continued my snapfest on the trip home.

I wanted to hold on to this vacay for as long as possible.

And just like that, we were home in grey and gloomy T-Town.

Such an amazing trip!  We got our fill of sunshine and togetherness, so a little rain wasn't about to damper our spirits.  So thankful for the time with my hubs and so grateful to my mom and sister for making it happen in such a stress-free way.  It's so wonderful to get away, but it's even more beautiful to come home to family and a life that we love.