Apr 25, 2013

We found Tadpoles!

Sydney came down with another stomach bug last Thursday. This time Cameron and I were fortunate enough not to catch, but I still spent Friday and Monday home from work, caring for my sick baby girl. By Monday evening, I was spent so after Sydney went down for the night, I headed outside to do some much needed weeding.
I worked my way from the front to the back. All the way back to the back fence, where London's summer water play table had spent the winter. I'd failed to clean it up and put it away for the winter. I blame the early days of exhaustion that set in when Sydney was born. London was still playing with the table into November as it had been unseasonably warm.
But I'm glad I failed. As I was bending down to pick a weed in the cement cracks, I noticed something moving in the algea and rain water filled table. Upon further inspection I discovered we had tadpoles - very tiny tadpoles. I immediately ran into the house to get Cameron and London so we could show her the "froggies". She got quite a kick out of them. Cameron checked some other areas that we have standing water to see if we had any tadpoles in those containers, but we didn't - I think because this was located next to our fence, which backs up to a field with natural marsh land, the source of water was in a safe place for the frogs to lay their eggs.
I had planned to raise tadpoles inside when London was a little older so she could watch the metamorphosis, but why miss out on the opportunity now? Last night, after running over to Target to pick up a prescription (that wasn't there) I headed over to PetsMart and grabbed Tadpole Food (who knew there was such a thing?) dechlorinizing drops, rocks to put in  the bottom of our spare aquarium and some fresh water plants to promote oxygen levels in the water. I learned I needed all this from research online.
After a quick set up I sent Cameron outside, in the dark, to retrieve some of the tadpoles. We know he captured at least 7 but there may be more. They now have a new home in the aquarium, in our kitchen.
Upon close inspection, we discovered a few have back legs already! I'll have to get some big rocks in there soon so when they turn into more frog-like tadpoles, they can climb out to get some air. They were all safe and sound this morning when we checked on them - no belly ups so far, and no cat interference. We hope it lasts. I can't wait to show London the aquarium this evening! We were too rushed and zombie-like this morning to take the time to show her.
When the tadpoles are officially frogs, we'll take them down to a nearby pond to release back into the wild. And we're keeping an eye on the water level in London's water table to make sure the other tadpoles have a fighting chance - though they will have the birds to contend with. I'm also going to ask her daycare teacher if she is interested in some. Why not share the joy with all the kids there?It's a fun learning experience that I loved doing many summers as a kid. I remember catching the giant bullfrog tadpoles and watching those sprout legs and turn into frogs. We had a pond in our backyard and would release them out there. I love falling asleep to the sounds of frogs chirping. At least where our house is now, up against the field, it is almost like we are in the country and get to experience some of those country joys.

Apr 18, 2013

A Weekend Away in Napa - Part 2

Saturday was the big day for Troy and Katie. But the ceremony wasn't until 2 PM. With our hotel less than a mile from the church we knew we would have some time on our hands. And we figured we wouldn't sleep in too late, given we would get a full night of UNINTERRUPTED sleep for the first time in FOREVER! Which was true. I woke up at 6:15 AM. I managed to get back to sleep but was up by 8 AM for good. 

Our hotel had a gym, two doors down from our room, so instead of going out in search of a running trail, I hopped on the treadmill and  put in 6 miles. So far, 6 miles is the longest I have run since having Sydney. The hope is to get 7 in this coming weekend! This did take up a bulk of the morning, but I rinsed the sweat off in the shower and we headed out for lunch and a quick tasting. Or so we thought. 

Cameron found us a great little deli, called Genova's Delicatessen and it did not disappoint. Cameron and I failed to have a bad meal throughout our entire trip, which made it extra special. We both had delicious sandwiches - mine with roasted turkey and Cameron with ham and pastrami. 

From there we headed to Domain Carneros where we hoped to have a tasting. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a parking spot - two limos were taking up 2 and 3 spots each, which didn't help the small parking lot. We decided to head back to the hotel and take our time getting ready. Good thing we did too. 

At 1:30 PM, our chosen time to leave, we discovered Cameron had failed to bring his dress shoes. We rushed off to Target, just down the highway, only to discover the store was so small it didn't carry shoes! What Target doesn't carry shoes? Luckily, another block away was a Payless shoe store. We were in and out of the store in less than 5 minutes - I swear it took the guy longer to ring us up that it did to find the shoes. We made it to the church with 5 minutes to spare. Still, we felt rushed as we both hate to be late. 

It was a beautiful Catholic ceremony, that for us, was luckily on the shorter side. Katie looked amazing in her wedding dress and you could tell she and Troy were quite excited to begin their life together. 

After the ceremony we caught up with some more fraternity brothers before heading off to the reception, which was held at Napa Valley Country Club. There was a cocktail reception down in The Grove before we headed inside for dinner and dancing. We were seated with the rest of the brothers and their wives in attendance, which I think made us the largest table, with 12 of us. And we were seated with a private door to the bar! That could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you see it. I think it was a good thing. We spent the rest of the evening catching up with every one and dancing the night away. I even ran into a high school classmate of mine who I hadn't seen since graduation and spent a good hour just catching up with her. 

Getting up Sunday was a little more difficult. I woke up at 6:45 AM the first time and several times after that until it was really time to get up. We could have slept more, but we had reservations at 10 AM for a tasting at Duckhorn, one of our favorite wines. We'd never been to the winery before for a tasting and it so happens that Katie works for the company and was gracious enough to set up the tasting for us. It did not disappoint and we walked away we a few bottles. 

From there we headed up to Biggs to pick up the girls, who had stayed with Vicki and Cameron's sister, Carrie. Which meant we were going to drive through Williams and past Granzella's. We hung on and had a late lunch there - more delicious deli sandwiches. We really need to find a good deli around here. 

The girls had a great weekend away, too, it seemed. London loves playing with her cousin Connor and Sydney is pretty go-with-the-flow these days. I couldn't help but hold her until the moment we left for home and I had to put her in the carseat. I did miss my little snuggle bug. And I missed London too. Always fun to pick her up and hear her exclaim "Mommy you back!" "Daddy you back!" We had to wake her up from her nap, so she was a little sleepy and crabby at first but she perked up and talked the whole way home. 

Sorry for the lack of pictures - we meant to take them but in the end we just felt like enjoying our weekend and a little alone time more than worrying about pictures.

Apr 17, 2013

A Weekend Away in Napa - Part 1

Cameron and I recently had a lovely weekend away in Napa to celebrate the marriage of one of his Fraternity brothers, Troy, to his new wife, Katie. Since we were going to be childless for two whole nights for the first time since Sydney was born, we decided to indulge ourselves a bit, too. It wasn't until we were on our way to Napa Friday evening that I realized this would be my first night away from Sydney, ever. I left Cameron with London for a night when London was only 5 weeks old!

We started our weekend with dinner reservations at Etoile, Domaine Chandon's restaurant. We used to be wine club members and the restaurant had always looked like a nice, romantic place with good food. We had no idea what we were in for! First off, business casual as a dress code is an understatement. Cameron felt he should have at least been in slacks and a tie.

When we were seated we were handed an appetizer menu and an iPad to make our drink selections. We decided to get a bottle of their Classic Brut. We were then handed the menu, where we were to select from the Chef's 6-course fixed menu or from the 4-course menu that had 4 options to choose from for each course. We decided to go for the 4-course menu. 

But before the first course was sent out, we were presented with an amuse bouche from the chef. Cameron got a dollop of lobster salad on a tiny cracker while I received pea soup in a spoon with a onion relish and chive flower on top. 

For our first course, I had chosen a fresh veggie salad. I wish I had taken a picture of it as it was presented to look like a little forest of carrots and broccoli, along with a quail egg, some pureed potato and a delicious dijon mustard-based vinaigrette topped it off. Cameron chose a oyster-based soup for his first course that included little sweet and crunchy celery root that we both found delicious. 

Another amuse bouche was presented to us after this course, which was duck pate served on a little cracker and topped with a chive flower. Cameron and I have only had pate once before and we weren't fans. This little taste of duck pate, on the other hand, did grow on us while the flavor settled in our mouths. 

When our fish course arrived, we finally remembered to take a picture. We had both ordered the halibut which included roasted brussel sprouts and a roasted oyster sauce to top it off. Because of my shellfish allergy I received a parsley-based sauce instead. It was delicious and amazing with so many different flavors playing on our taste buds.



Next up was our meat course, and Cameron and I both selected the lamb with beef belly, which was sort of like pulled pork and included some green olives and olive-based sauces as well as caramelized mini-onions. 


The last course was our dessert. Cameron selected a red velvet cake with amazing vanilla bean ice cream while I selected chocolate croquettes - a kind of chocolate-nut mixed truffle with oozing chocolate inside and topped with marshmallow ice cream. So yummy!


And with our check, we were presented one last surprise - a small dessert platter of tiny sugar cookies, candied citrus and little chocolate truffles. Again, the entire meal was amazing both in taste and in presentation. Cameron and I were seated at a table where we sat next to each other which made it that much more romantic. It is one meal we will not forget in a long time and should funds allow, we would love to partake in again. It definitely was pricey - about the cost of our hotel room for the two nights we were there. 


We capped off the evening sneaking into the spa after hours and enjoyed another glass of Domaine Chandon Classic Brut, which we picked up on our way back to the hotel. 

Saturday was the wedding....

Apr 16, 2013

A Trip to the Zoo - Sydney's First

The Saturday before illness ravaged our house (waaay back in March), we met up with Vicki & Joe along with Evan, Kristen & Richard to take the girls to the zoo. Thankfully, unlike London's first visit, I remembered the camera. And London's old Sac Zoo hat! This was Sydney's first visit after all. 


 
And Sydney sure didn't want to miss out. I did forget to bring the Baby Bjorn so we had started out pushing her in the stroller. Sydney wouldn't have it and demanded to be carried about 1/2 of the visit. 


Nothing really grabbed her attention like London at that age - Sydney simply enjoyed being outside. She gets really calm and quiet when she is outdoors and just takes it all in.


London and Evan had a grand time running about and seeing all the animals. We even spent a considerable amount of time inside the reptile house. London really wanted to see an alligator but it wasn't out this visit. What we need to do is take her to San Francisco to the Academy of Sciences to see the alligators there. One of these days...



Unfortunately, the whole visit wasn't as cheerful as we would have liked. When we got to the big cats, the tiger enclosure specifically, we saw that only the male tiger, Castro, was out for viewing. He was so skinny and sickly looking, too. He even had a patch on his back shaved off and what looked like stitches in the middle of that patch. 


Shortly after we had moved on a keeper was telling another family why Castro looked so bad - which reminded me that I had read that he has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. Unfortunately things don't look too good for him even with Chemo. I had recently read all about it on the Sac Zoo Blog. 


I would learn that next Monday from the Sac Zoo blog that the female tiger was in the back, away from display with a cub she had recently birthed! That was good news. At least life goes on. Castro is the daddy to this cub and the cub has been named Castro Junior (C.J. for short) in honor of his father. I also learned from the blog that Castro and the mom have produced 5 cubs together. C.J., like the others, will eventually move on to another zoo in hopes of producing cubs of his own. His mom and he will be on display sometime at the end of May or early June. Since we have a membership we will be sure to go and check little CJ out when we can.

Apr 5, 2013

Easter


For yet another year, Cameron and I have managed to pull off our annual tradition of making home-made, whole-wheat crusted Pizza for Easter dinner. We have been doing this since we got married and we really hope to continue the tradition for years to come.  I also tried a new recipe for the crust, which I really liked as I was able to yield 4 thin crusts from 1 1/2 of the recipe. Plus is rose quite nicely which has been an issue for me in years past. The only thing I did learn is to bake the crust for 5 minutes before adding in the toppings. We also think we will cut up the fresh ingredients we want on the pizzas in the morning next year, so that they have had a chance to dry out some before being cooked as they yielded a bit of water and made one pizza in particular a bit soggy. 

The last pizza I made was my favorite - I ran out of crust last year before I had made it so I was bound and determined not to miss it this year. My favorite has pepperoni, shredded mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, basil and red onion on it. Delicious I tell you.


While I was more on the ball this year on purchasing the needs for the girls' Easter Baskets than I have been in the past (I purchased almost all of it at Michael's weeks ago) I was not on the ball when it came to assembling them and having the baskets out first thing Easter morning. So the Easter Bunny paid us a visit while London was napping. 

Each girl received a beach ball and cute new rubber duck from the Easter Bunny. Then Sydney received a soft lamb (last minute Raley's purchase that morning!) and some purple bunny ears. London's basket had a gardening theme, which included gardening gloves, matching hat, some fun sunglasses, shovel and rake. When we go purchase our garden plants for this year's summer vegetable garden, we will let London pick out a plant or two to plant in her own container. She loved all the items and couldn't wait to get out side to test out her new tools.  Notice there was no candy in the baskets - we really do our best to keep London away from candy as she reacts so strongly to it. We still feel she is a bit young for so much sugar any how. Plus, she had plenty of sugar the day before at her cousin Eli's 1st Birthday party (as did we!).















We didn't forget about Sydney. Here she is opening her Easter Basket and testing out the bunny ears. We purchased the "My First Easter" Onsie from Target last year when it was on Clearance when we knew we were pregnant but didn't know if we were expecting a girl or boy. And for once, I made sure she wore the correct outfit on the correct day : ).

Of course, London couldn't resist the bunny ear either!

Apr 3, 2013

Easter Egg Hunt

Our Easter Festivities started a week prior to Easter with an Easter Egg hunt at London's best friend, Evan's house. This was really the first year London understood "looking for eggs" so it made it fun and will definitely be something we will look forward to doing with her, and Sydney, in the years to come.
Unfortunately, just as it was time for the hunt, Sydney got hungry so I stayed back to feed her and missed out on watching London participate in the hunt. Kristen had filled most of the eggs with age approproate toys but the toys were gender specific, so she hid all the girls' eggs in one part of the yard and all the boys eggs in the other part of the yard. With only one other girl attending the party, London didn't have much competition for finding a lot of eggs. 

 
 
And according to Cameron, the other little girl, who was two years older than London, was quite helpful, pointing eggs out to London and even putting them in her bucket in the beginning until London caught on! London definitely came back in with a huge smile on her face and really seemed to have enjoyed herself. Hopefully next year I can get to see the action in person - and maybe London can show Sydney how to find the eggs, if Sydney's mobile by then.