Monday, April 25, 2016

Spring Excitement

Here it is nearly May! Which is close to June. Which means the year that seemingly just started is half over! I'm not sure if I'll get around to making posts with photos for everything going on this spring, but I just wanted to type up a few things for memory's sake. It's been a fun and interesting year already.

March brought Jeremy's 40th birthday and his first spring training trip to Phoenix. He was blessed to be hosted by Bobby Evans, GM for the Giants. He and our pastor, Ryan, flew together and enjoyed three nights and four days of baseball bliss. Jeremy took tons of photos and had much to share when he got home. I managed the home front really well until the fourth day. We were expecting to have daddy home by dinner that fourth night, but snow storms in Denver affected his flight which ended up getting cancelled. He luckily got another flight, but he didn't arrive home until close to midnight. That fourth night of managing dinner/bedtime/homework/school/extra-curriculars for three kids finally did me in. It was exhausting and I needed my partner. I'm thankful that Jeremy had a wonderful trip away to refresh and recharge. We all need to find things away from family that bring us joy, but I'm thankful that most nights and weekends, my man is right beside me helping take care of our crew and he WANTS to be there. 

Jeremy's parents came soon after for Easter and Spring Break which I talked about in detail in two other blog posts.

April brought my first trip away from Anna Kate, 18 months. I attended the spring women's retreat at Hume Lake with the ladies of Bayfarm Community Church. Hume Lake was GORGEOUS. It's located in the Sierra mountain range in the Sequoia National Forest near King's Canyon. It took us about five hours to get there. The camp was larger and nicer than I expected. There were about 1000 women there on retreat! The campus was huge! The praise band was so professional and inspirational. I thoroughly enjoyed worshipping in song with them. The women speakers preached and taught the Word. They were amazing women of faith and my heart soaked up so much. I enjoyed activities such as archery, hiking, and jewelry-making. Other activities you could choose included boating, high ropes course, off-roading tours, recreational sports, or simply enjoying the view while sipping on your coffee or milkshakes. The food was actually really, really good! With a camp for this many people, you just never know. However, when I'm not the one shopping for it, putting it up, cooking it, cleaning it up, etc., I find that my enjoyment is even greater. How wonderful to be served well. To eat uninterrupted by little children. To drink your coffee while it's hot without needing to warm it up all morning. These little things were appreciated immensely. I feel like my figurative cup was getting empty and depleted from constantly pouring out for my family. It got filled up and even overflowed by the end of the weekend. I needed this so much. 

We used the opportunity for three full days and two nights away to wean Anna Kate. I was down to about 2-3 times a day of nursing her. It's hard to abruptly stop nursing when you're still around your baby all the time. Getting away was the way to do it. Jeremy managed the children well in my absence. He managed Saturday soccer, Sunday church, and dinners/bedtime like the great dad I already knew he was. The wild card was just how Anna Kate would do without her mama milk. I knew he could handle Em and Caleb with ease. Luckily, she did OK. Sometimes I miss how easy I could calm and settle her with nursing (especially in the mornings when she wakes up too early and is cranky), but overall, we've done well with this transition. 

April also brought our 10th anniversary. TEN YEARS! Where has the time gone? We've had three children. We've moved three times. Two of those moves were with children and one of them was cross country. We've experienced dual income no kids years. I've worked full-time, then part-time, then prn. Then, full-time mama of three! Jeremy's had jobs he's loved and jobs he just barely tolerated. We've experienced dozens of new places for vacations, day trips, new cities, etc. Our life together is very full and happy. I could write a whole post about my nostalgia on our tenth anniversary and I just might do it! Last night we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Mamacita on Chestnut St. in SF. We walked to the Palace of Fine Arts afterwards. It was a relaxing and lovely evening. Our kids were well taken care of by a wonderful lady we know through our church. We've made a good life here in the Bay Area. It is difficult to imagine where we will be in another ten years. Will we adopt? Will we still be in California? Where will we buy a home? Will we get to take that trip to Greece to see our family? Will Twitter stock rebound or keep falling? Will I go back to work as a physical therapist or in some other capacity? Will Jeremy's app be a success and provide a new job for him in time? Our children will be 16, 13, and 11 in ten years. Oh my goodness, I could just cry thinking about how big and old they will be then. This has been a reflective season for me. Jeremy just turned 40. We just had our 10th anniversary. I have my 20th high school reunion soon. Our biological family is complete (we think?) We are dealing with heavier issues. Heart issues about how to raise our children and where. You better believe we will be praying every step of the way. If you're still reading this long post, then you must love us so please pray for us to be wise.

We leave for Hawaii soon to celebrate our life and love. We have much to do to get prepared for the final details of the trip. I'm thrilled to get away, but also nervous. Mostly just very excited. Five days and four nights in Maui! It will pass so quickly. I hope it won't take another 30+ years for us to go back. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Reiss Family Spring Break 2016

After Easter Sunday, we started our staycation of various Bay Area activities.

Monday: Children's Fairyland was the original plan, but since it was closed, we went to Tilden Park for the steam train and carousel. We were able to show Dinkney and Poppy fabulous Bay views from the Oakland Hills on the route there.

Tuesday: Muir Woods. This had been "top of list" for them for a long time so we were glad that on their third CA visit, we could take them to see some redwoods.

They look thrilled, don't they? lol.

Due to the drive and traffic back-up for parking, it was lunchtime when we arrived and AK naps around 1pm. She would NOT fall asleep in the stroller and my back was hurting too much to have her sleep on me while I wore her in the Ergo. Luckily, her meltdowns were minimal so long as she did what she wanted which in this case was walk and walk and walk. She stayed on the path well and probably walked a half mile at least. Training her up...

Come on slow pokes!

Wednesday: Brief time in Golden Gate Park for big kids, grandparents, and Jeremy. At this point in the week, Anna Kate needed a normal nap day so I stayed home with her. Jeremy showed them the Japanese Tea Garden and Stowe Lake. That afternoon they came back for Emily's soccer practice.

Thursday/Friday: Trip to Calistoga in Napa Valley to tour Castillo di Amorosa and Sterling Vineyards. We also went to the Old Faithful Geyser of California park. If you ask Emily and Caleb, the highlight of their trip was swimming in the warm mineral water pool at our hotel with Daddy. Even though the evening was cool, they were comfortably warm playing in the water. They had a blast. They don't get to go swimming nearly enough.

Castle animals

AK and C were quite enamored by the Mr. Pig.

Lots to explore in the towers and various halls and rooms

Sleepy babe

A chair fit for a princess in the Great Dining Hall

Courtyard shenanigans

"I want this one, please and thank you." 

In late March/early April, some of the vines had quite a bit of green on them already and some, like these, were just at budbreak. "Budbreak" was a new winery term for us. 
Day 2 in Calistoga started bright and early with our continental breakfast at the hotel. Then we headed just a couple of miles down the road to a tour and tasting at Sterling Vineyards. Not sure if I've ever had wine at 10:30 in the morning, but when on vacation in wine country, we do! haha! We picked Sterling for the "cool" factor of riding a gondola to the top of the hill where the winery is located. Wineries are not particularly fun for kids so we obviously wanted to pick places that would have some joy for the kids. (Hence the castle choice, too.) Some of the best Napa Valley views are up here. I've only spent a grand total of about 40 hours in wine country on two different trips and while I find it to be pretty and enjoyable, I'm still left thinking it isn't any prettier than KY--vineyards and wineries are just sexier and more sophisticated than wheat and corn fields! I realize there is SO much I haven't seen. I've already picked out a few more stunning wineries I would like to visit one day, hopefully sans kids for a more relaxing trip. This itinerary was very doable for a young family for a quick overnight trip. 

Cheers to us! Jeremy already looks three sheets to the wind. (He wasn't.)
This was taken at the castle tasting.

Swimming Time!

Cheers. Again. 

Old Faithful Geyer of California located in Calistoga.
(Not THE Old Faithful of Yellowstone.) 

Saturday: Lazy morning at home then took D and P to the airport just after lunch. It was a full week and went by so quickly! We didn't even go to the beach other than a quick walk there one evening after dinner. We are glad they decided to visit us before summer break. It had been almost six months since we'd last seen them and Anna Kate had changed a ton in that time. My parents come visit us in May which will be here before we know it!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Easter Weekend

Dinkney and Poppy came out to visit us for Spring Break this year. Luckily, the first weekend coincided with Easter so we got to enjoy Easter Sunday activities with them at our church and at our home. I took many photos this week so I'll have to divide this post up. 

Doing Fashion Plates with Poppy. This was a blast from the past toy Dinkney found for Emily. 

Anna Kate relished in all the extra reading she got from grandparents.
She would pick out a book then plop herself right in their laps. 

Sweet affection from big brother

Fun Easter gifts from grandparents and Mom and Dad.
We actually bought the Lego set for them for Christmas, but they got too much then so we saved it for another occasion.

I love this photo so much. 

Sweet girls dressed alike

We managed a family photo with help from the grandparents

One day little Caleb will cooperate for family photos...I hope. 

Prepping for Easter dinner. Emily helped me make the bunny dessert.
Dirt Cake with a Bunny theme. Found this recipe on Facebook and it was a hit with the kids.

Our urban church doesn't have a place to do Easter egg hunts and my MOPS church did theirs Easter morning while we were in SF. We have opted out of the city-wide egg hunt because it's a little chaotic and the candy sub-par. ha! We have done our own egg hunts for the past three years with just our kids. It kind of makes me sad that the kids don't get the friendly competition aspect, but it has just worked better for our schedule to do it with just our little family. The grandparents helped us fill about 30 eggs with coins and/or jelly beans. We headed up to our local park after Sunday naps and enjoyed the fresh air and exercise. Poppy and Daddy did a great job hiding the eggs and the kids had a lot of fun with their hunt.