3.25.2014

Me & My Blog

Life around these parts has been busy. A good busy. Hence, a month without updating the blog. I didn't even know it had been a month (plus some days) until I received an e-mail update saying someone had left a comment (Thank You!)

Like waves in life, its not that I don't love blogging, it's just not that high on the priority list. I would honestly rather spend some down time with my family than sit down and type my thoughts, attach photos, comment back, etc. I dislike forcing posts, especially with a space so special to me as this blog on the web. And I don't think it does you, the reader, any justice, to post things like that.

So for now, I'm taking a blog break. Maybe I'll find the inspiration tomorrow to post more again. Or maybe even tonight. Who knows. That's the beauty of life isn't it?!

Oh, and a little announcement (and one of the reasons why we've been so busy.) Michael's going to be a big brother! To another Baby Boy!

 

We couldn't be more excited & hey, I'm feeling more inspired to blog already.

And one more thing, promise, I'm back on Instagram!  Follow our adventures here.


~Kristina

2.19.2014

Wordless Wednesday | 2/19/2014

Via Instagram

How Do We...? | Dining Out

I'm starting up a new series here on the blog about how we as a family do certain things.  Oftentimes, we get asked for advice on how we travel, eat out, are able to attend an entire Mass service (sitting inside the church and not the mothers room), etc. & as much as we're flattered that we're asked, it does take some hard work and consistency.  But these things mean that much to us that we don't mind the extra work.

I also like reading these types of posts on other blogs, because more often than not, I learn something new that is almost always helpful.


Today, I wanted to share with you how we are able to dine out so much.  And so easily.  We often get asked how we get Michael to behave so well and let me tell you.  It's really all him.  We eat out so much where he's at the point now where its like eating a meal at home.  We're also not limited to just family friendly restaurants.  We have taken Michael to Mastro's and other fine dining restaurants as well as hole in the wall joints, that we ourselves question if we should be eating there. Hah!  So here's what has worked for us.

Plan ahead.  We probably rely on yelp more than we should.  But yelp has become so helpful for us when we plan on eating out.  Typically, we like to read the reviews on what to order, which is easy for us to locate as they have a "menu" option to view.  In this way, when we're seated at a restaurant, we're able to order from the get go.  We also like to view pictures and look at the actual restaurant.  Does it look kid friendly?  Does it look high end, where we would need to pack some extra entertainment for our little guy?  Do the serving sizes of each dish look shareable?  We ask this because 99% of the time, I share my dish with Michael, making for an affordable meal.  Restaurant meals are too big for me to eat in one sitting any way.

Grab a booth seat.  This is something we found that worked best for Michael.  Booth seating allows us the space for him to freely and comfortably enjoy dinner.

Make your own restaurant fun/survival bag.  Fill it up with new stickers, crayons, coloring books, activities, just for your restaurant outings.  What I found to be great restaurant bags are those activity packs at the Dollar Spot at Target.

Always ask for crayons & paper.  Sometimes eating out is on a whim for us, so these definitely come in handy.  Even at restaurants that you wouldn't think are "kid friendly."  We once took Michael to a gastropub which didn't seem like they would have crayons.  We decided to ask our server if they had any extra crayons and paper (thinking that the worst possible answer would be no) and to our surprise, she came back bearing them.  She said they always kept them handy for families.

Play table games. Count the sugar packs.  Play table football.  Do some magic tricks.  Some other ideas can be found here.

Make it an outing with friends or family.  We know that when we eat out with others it can surely last a lot longer than when it's just the 3 of us.  But with more people that means more people who help entertain Michael.

Leave the electronics for last.  If we gave Michael our iPhone right from the moment we sat down, he would be tired of it by the time we placed our orders.  We know the iPhone is a sure fire way to keep Michael occupied so we always say this for when we're actually eating.  Sometimes, we don't even need to bring out the phone because he's having so much fun already.

Have fun and always keep in mind that you can take food to go.  There have been times where we inhaled our meals because Michael just didn't want to be out.  That's just the reality of raising a toddler.  However, if we always thought this before going out, we'd never get out.  Sometimes you just have to take that risk.  Because having fun with your family is worth it.

I hope you enjoyed today's post and find all of these tips helpful.  As a first time parent, that the best way to learn if something works or not is experience.  Yes, you will get those looks and you will feel the pressure of eyes drilling on you.  But to be honest, most of the people who are staring are usually people who don't have children with them.  Our word of advice?  They. don't. know.  But who cares.   Every parent and family goes through those tough times (and still do.)  Enjoy yourselves and get out!

If you have any questions, any requests for future posts like this, or even want to share your dining out tips, please share.  I'd love to hear from you.


~Kristina

2.10.2014

Movie Monday | 02/10/2014

 

Movie- The LEGO Movie
Rating! (Out of 5)
Upside- Because movie theater popcorn is so good.
Downside- Very rarely are we disappointed in a yelp review or a Rotten Tomatoes rating.  This constitutes as that 1% of the time.  When I first saw the trailer, I thought to myself, wow, what a disappointment to Lego fans. The movie looked incredibly cheesy.  Then my husband just a few days ago checked how critics had liked the movie & to our surprise, the movie got incredible ratings.  We decided to give it a few days as we had thought it was a fluke, but up until Sunday morning, the movie was still doing great.  Long story short, I didn't enjoy the movie at all.  Maybe I have a different sense of humor than most, but I don't remember laughing at all during the movie.  Or maybe I had been expecting too much or something different than the storyline they came up with.  My husband's thoughts, since he is the original LEGO builder in our home?  He didn't like it either.


~Kristina

1.28.2014

A Look Back | Holidays 2013

The Loves Of My Life

I know, I know.  We're well into 2014, passed the holidays, passed the holiday hangover, and almost to Valentine's Day.  But I couldn't NOT share some pictures that we have FINALLY uploaded into our online family photo album and share it here on the blog.  It's also fun for us to look back at all the memories of last year's holidays.  It's truly mind boggling how time flies so fast and what seems to be years ago, was literally a month.

Thanksgiving
This photo makes me laugh for so many reasons.  My husband grew his mustache for "Movember" (Men's Health Awareness November).  Although it was for charity, it's still a painful reminder of something he won't do again...until next year, maybe.  Michael also developed the art of making faces in pictures.  You'll see throughout our holiday photos his same expression over and over and over again.

Winter Break
At the very end of each year, my husband has about a few days off because his job is also an educational institution.  Their winter break = his winter break.  Meaning, more time to lounge and have fun as a family.

Christmas Program
Each year Michael's school hosts 2 programs, a Christmas one & a Spring one.  Michael's class performed "Santa Clause Is Coming To Town," "Feliz Navidad," and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" complete with singing, choreography, costumes, and whole lots of laughs.  It's amazing how much Michael and his classmates have developed since last year.  I still remember his Spring Concert was complete chaos, but absolutely cute.  This year, the kids were so excited to perform each and every song.  And were so good at it!

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day
Michael's absolute favorite present that he received on Christmas was a set of animal toys we picked up at the Dollar Tree.  Nope, it wasn't the camera we purchased because he developed a fascination with our iPhone cameras and was taking pictures of everything.  Not the Ratatouille movie we also bought him because we assumed he loved everything Disney/Pixar.  And no, it wasn't even the expensive Lego sets, train tracks, Thomas bed sheets, Marvel paint sets, bike, etc. he received from family and friends.  None of these brought a bigger smile on Michael's face than his animals, which he still continues to play with daily to this day.

And there goes that expression again.

Los Angeles Zoo
 My husband suggested that we take advantage of his time off & the possible smaller crowds and venture off to the Los Angeles Zoo.  I can't remember the last time I'd ever been to the zoo and it was definitely Michael's first time.  He's been completely obsessed with animals lately as well as picture taking, so we spent the day after Christmas doing just that.  It was also pretty funny watching my husband take pictures with our digital camera and Michael following along, taking pictures too with his.

Zoo tip: Call ahead or check online to see if any animal exhibits are closed.  We were a bit disappointed that we couldn't see the lions because their exhibit was closed.

Dining Out - Plan Check

We ate out quite often during the holidays, but nothing came close to our experience at Plan Check.  The food here- delicious.  Up to this point, I had always ordered burgers at burger joints.  I decided to change it up a bit and go with their fried chicken and I was definitely not disappointed.  My husband opted for the truffle burger, which (sorry Umami) is the best truffle burger I have ever tasted.  Music here was pretty awesome, as 90s hits were on heavy rotation and the customer service was exceptional.  Maybe it was because we were with our 3 year old son that they were showing us more attention, but the waitress never once made us feel like we didn't belong in their "kitchen + bar."

Yelp tip: If Yelp says "No" under the category if its good for children, don't believe it.  When we got here for dinner, there were a TON (no exaggeration) of children.  As is the case for many restaurants we dine at.  Granted, the restaurant is partly a bar and I would never stay at a restaurant I didn't feel comfortable eating at with Michael, but sometimes you just gotta take a chance.  There's always the to-go bag if that's ever the case, but (knock on wood) that has never happened.

Disneyland

Of course we had to start off our New Year with a trip to Disneyland.  I love going on New Year because there really aren't long wait lines (since I assume people partied a little too hard the night before) and the weather was beautiful.  It was also a milestone for us, as we had to purchase Michael his very own annual pass.  We couldn't get away with him being "two" any longer.

We hope you all had a memorable holiday season & hope even more you are all having a great 2014!


~Kristina

1.06.2014

Intentional In 2014

My Mom & I have never had a moment in our relationship where we felt everything was "perfect."  Those moments that you want to stay in forever.  Our relationship was never like that.

Sometimes it was her doing.  Most of the time, it was mine.  Our personalities never allowed us to relish in those moments.

Because we both believed life went on.  And that there are many more moments to enjoy.

And also because we have an unusually large, close, and chaotic family, had full time work and school, activities, etc. that just kept life moving.

That is not to say that I Love her any less.  Our relationship is just unique.  As are all relationships.

Today I got to thinking about this new year.  And how one of my goals was to be a more intentional person.

Because I felt that I too carried traits from my relationship with her into my relationships now.

And what I came to realize is that one of the the most intentional person I know is my Mom.

Sure, what I wrote up top is all completely true.  And to be honest, my thoughts of the past with my Mom are partly filled with pain, and sudden out bursts, and occasional moments I probably would like removed from my long term memory.

But she was there every step of the way.  Every. Single. Day.

With the intention of both needing and wanting to be there for me, no holds barred.

Despite the busyness that is life, she never stopped being my Mom.  The strong, loving, compassionate, intentional Mom that I want to be.

And it's kind of funny because whenever I have asked her about something in the past, whether good or bad, she remembers wholeheartedly every detail of that event, from start to finish.

That's how I want to live my life.  Present in each moment.  Intentional in everything I do.

Just like her.


This post today was inspired by the new Procter & Gamble 2014 Sochi (Russia) Winter Olympics Ad:



~Kristina

1.02.2014

Happy New Year! :)

No better way to kick off 2014 than at Disneyland!



~YoMichaelMichael!

12.30.2013

Movie Monday | 12/30/2013


MovieSaving Mr. Banks
Rating!!!!! (Out of 5)
Upside- I absolutely loved everything about this movie.  Sure, it could be the amazing casting of Tom Hanks & Emma Thompson.  Or the fact that it IS a Disney film.  But there's such a long history between Mary Poppins (the movie) and my family, this film continuously made me feeling nostalgic throughout the entire thing.
Downside- I now want to read P.L. Travers' entire series of children's books!


~Kristina

12.23.2013

Merry Christmas! :)

From our Family to yours...



~YoMichaelMichael!

11.20.2013

Day Out With Thomas

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The Day Out With Thomas has to be, hands down, THE most anticipated AND exciting thing Michael's done all year.  He was most excited about this event, from the moment we bought our tickets.  How excited?  More than any plane flight, more than his birthday party, or even an trip to Disneyland, that's the excitement level we're talking about.

Now from the get go, I was a little wary purchasing the tickets.  Thomas is not a toy of Michael's that I particularly enjoy.  Something about this talking train has always irked me.  Maybe it's the annoying trains we have running at all hours of the day in our home.  Not enough tracks to accommodate these trains, leaving some left to run wild under the sofa.  With batteries running out at the end of each day, some which were just changed that morning.

But Michael really enjoys them.  And therefore, I must like them.

The tickets were $19 a person.  And from the looks of the preview video, driving almost 50 miles to the nearest tour stop didn't seem to fun for us parents.  Michael's that age too where he needs a ticket to special events such as these.  Therefore, we debated back and forth for quite some time about spending almost $60 to attend the event.

As soon as we showed Michael the video, we knew we were making the right choice.  He didn't forget from the moment we purchased the tickets to the day of that we were going to it and were reminded regularly of our trip to see Thomas.

So here's my review of the actual event.  It was fun.  REALLY fun.  When we first got there, we immediately rode Thomas.  The ride was kinda lame though.  We rode for 10 minutes away from the train museum and right back.  But seeing Michael's facial expressions as well as the excitement of all the other kids in our train car was pretty amazing.  They all truly believed we were riding Thomas.

The day was filled with all kinds of events too, which I was pleasantly surprised about.  They had photo opportunities, a scavenger hunt (with an awesome prize when completed,) real trains to tour, a story area and viewing area of Thomas episodes, activity area where kids can ride miniature trains, play with them, and another area where they could color, sticker, stamp, and get temporary tattoos, mazes to run through, and a petting zoo.

And for us parents, parents was completely complimentary, which is a definite bonus in my book.  They even had a Thomas store, which literally had every Thomas item one can think of.  This may or may not be a good thing for us parents actually.

So would I recommend families to go?  Definitely.  We had a great time.

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~Kristina