Saturday, January 19, 2013

Overnight in SF

Ryan and I had such a great time on our mini-getaway to the city!

Friday afternoon we dropped the boys off with our friends Sarah and John Farrell around 3:30. The boys barely gave us a second glance before they were off playing, and Ryan and I drove straight to the Omni Hotel, the same place we stayed the last time we did this, almost two years ago. In fact, our night was almost an exact recreation of that night. What can we say? We got it right the first time!

After sipping some complimentary hot apple cider and checking out our beautiful room, we headed on foot to Tony's, my favorite restaurant. It's about an eight-block walk, and I savored every minute of holding Ryan's hand; it becomes rare once you have two kids to hang onto! I relished being unrushed in the city, taking in the random sighs and smells, the tiny Asian markets that gave way to the glowing Italian restaurants of Little Italy.

Don't mind the no-flash, nighttime iphone photos!

After the best pizza ever, we walked a few blocks up Columbus to get hot chocolate from XOX Truffles, whose yelp reviews brought us in. Made from melted chocolate just like it should be!

I felt like a different person, walking the city at night! Usually I am homebound by 6pm at the latest!

Back at the hotel, we sat in the elegant lobby and talked for almost an hour. We agreed later that that time spent talking about our future was our favorite part of the getaway. 

The next morning my eyes hit the clock at 7:18, which is unheard of around our house because the boys wake up like clockwork at 7. I didn't even bother getting out of bed until almost 8!

(Our morning drinks spread, complimentary thanks to Ryan's hotel points.)

On our way home we made two quick stops at Honda and Toyota dealerships, because would you believe it's time to start at least thinking about a van? We will be a family of five in 8 weeks or less! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Boys and Bikes

I admit this is one Christmas present I was hoping would not happen. I avoided the subject as much as possible with hopes that Ryan wouldn't find time to buy it, and I'd be left to buy Trenton something totally tame for his Christmas present. :) But bikes of all kinds are in my husband's blood, so I should have known he'd pull it off! He had the motorcycle shipped directly to Provo, and we managed to pack our suitcases and other gifts around it in the trunk to get it back home with us to California. 

Since then, we've ridden it a couple of times, but only as practice runs in empty parking lots. Today was our first day taking it to our beloved "Shells," a beautiful, hidden spot with sculpted biking hills, right next to the bay. 

Today we also bought T a dirt biking helmet. Our 4 1/ 2-year-old wears an adult small, and even that is a little snug! (I love how it compresses his cheeks!) I think he loves the helmet almost as much as the motorcycle. It hasn't left his side all day, and he's sleeping with it right now as I type! 

He did SO well on the hills today! He was the perfect amount of cautious, starting out slow and only choosing hills that he thought were manageable. He was much more confident after a couple of hours of practice. 

Even Chase got some practice in today! Ryan would hold onto the handle bars, like you see below, and run/push from behind. But it was Chase using the throttle! So funny! He was giggling the whole way. (And it gave his dad a pretty good workout!) 

The funniest was when we let them try it together, with Ryan holding on/staying really close. 

Even though this bike is electric and small enough to fit in our trunk, it's still a leap for me to let our kids get into motorcycling this young. But watching Trenton today, I could see how it challenges him mentally and physically—teaches him to know his limits but also to push them gradually. I'm curious to see how this whole hobby plays out over the years. 

And who knows? Maybe someday we'll live in place where it's a little more feasible for Dad to have one of his own! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas with the Nielsens

We started our drive to Utah at 2pm (mountain time) and enjoyed chasing this gorgeous, full rainbow across the East Bay. It turns out it was not, however, a good omen, because the drive ended up taking us sixteen hours rather than twelve! Christmas traffic at Donner's Pass and overregulation due to a bit of snow delayed us a few hours, and we ended up driving until 6am! But after that, our remaining seven days of vacation were smooth sailing! 

We enjoyed visiting my Grandma Williams in her new retirement community in Orem. The boys loved the "grandma with the balloons!" 

The boys enjoyed so much play time with uncles Kyle and Javier, from wrestling to reading to plain ol' cuddling. 

The traditional Christmas Eve reading. Chase wandered, but T was in rapt attention to the end. 

Christmas morning lovin' with one of my favorite people in the world! 

A post-Christmas BYU basketball game! Both boys followed the game SO well, with Chase telling me authoritatively to "clap your hands" after every basket. 

Other highlights: 
  • A belated anniversary date with Ryan to Pizza 712 in Orem. Delicious! 
  • Seeing my darling sister-in-law Sarah, who is due about 7 weeks before me, and sharing pregnancy complaints! 
  • The boys helping Julia make cranberry sauce and fudge. 
  • The boys playing in our room downstairs until surprisingly late several nights in a row. I'd tuck them in and then go down later to find them still playing. One night, I walked in at 10:30 to find them both under the bed chattering away, with Chase stripped down to only his pullup. Crazy boys! But I love that they're such great friends. 
  • Seeing Lincoln and Les Mis at a real live movie theater! It's been ages! 
  • Great Grandpa Nielsen (whose name Chase bears as his middle name) pulling many, many "vitamins" out of the boys' ears! 
  • Ryan's ski trip to Alta and my lack of desire to leave the house due to the 18 inches of snow! 
  • Getting to see my sister's cute baby right before we left town! 
  • An impromptu Cafe Rio lunch date with Sarah & Javier, Kyle, and Rachel & Chad on our way out. 
This trip was just the rejuvenation we needed. We so appreciate the Nielsens for their amazing hospitality and the sweet gifts they gave all of us for Christmas. 

Thanksgiving and Halloween posts are below! I'm all caught up! 

Thanksgiving in Arizona

We are so, so glad we drove down to Arizona for Thanksgiving! It was a highlight of my year.

We loved having Bell de Mar (the Tempe house my grandparents have owned since I was little) to stay at, on our own. The boys went down amazingly well every night in the teddy bear room, and my sister Mary had the kitchen stocked with Cinnamon Toast Crunch (a family favorite!) and plenty of other food! Plus, we took home oranges and grapefruit from the trees in the backyard!

On Thanksgiving, we spent the entire day at Mary and Tom's, just riding bikes, playing with toys, and cook-cook-cooking. Mary and I loved being head chefs together, and I'd say we pulled off a delicious meal! Even if it was a couple hours late because we semi-forgot about starting the rolls. :) The beauty of it was that we were in no hurry!

Bikes in front of Mary & Tom's. Not sure I would have signed off on this little stunt had I known about it at the time! haha 

On Black Friday we visited Tia Rosa's, a Mexican restaurant that holds a lot of memories for us, from family meals with G&G to Corey and Sally's rehearsal dinner to my dear friend Kimber's wedding luncheon. Both the decor and the food are always amazing. Equally amazing was how much green salsa Chase put away while we were there. He was literally drinking the last drops of each bowl, before his refill. (Raising 'em right!)

We visited our childhood home, which has changed a lot since my parents sold it while I was a sophomore at BYU. The new owner noticed us snooping around and came out for a friendly visit. She sweetly filled us in on their changes to the house and all the latest with the neighbors. (I was holding back tears when we introduced ourselves!)

I've always loved Hold in the Rock (who wouldn't?), near the Phoenix Zoo, but it brought some added jitters now that I have children old enough to climb around!

From this trip, I'd like to always remember Chase gripping Mary's hand on the hike back out, telling her all about the different fruits he likes; Tom taking Chase's socks off after dinner one night and Chase laughing like crazy; and Trenton stroking Kizzie the Dog through an entire episode of Busytown.

I didn't get many pictures with Corey and Sally's family, but this blurry one is proof that we did party at their house and, obviously, we had a lot of fun doing it! 

We can't thank you enough for such an incredible trip, Babb and Williams families!

Halloween (Finally!)

Our photo skills were seriously lacking at Halloween this year, but here are the few decent ones we got!

Pumpkin carving was a big hit, until I carved the "spooky faces" and continually got told they were not scary enough. Haha, oh well! Someday you can do it yourself, boys!

Trenton the Pirate and his very best buddy, Colton the Astronaut, in front of preschool. Love this shot. 

The pirate and the fireman (for a second year in a row) in front of the church, right before our church party, which the boys were SO excited for! 

At his insistence, the fireman turned into a cowboy on the night of Halloween, and we trick-or-treated our building with the three other families that have young kids here. It makes the old ladies around here so happy, and the kids are in heaven because the ladies dole out all their candy, knowing no one else will be coming by. Win win!