Napa Valley: The Westin and Oxbow Market

My husband and I just got back from three days in Napa Valley for our anniversary! If you are looking for a new vacation spot and want some place full of beautiful scenery, amazing food, great wine (and lots of it!) then Napa Valley is for you. We saw so much and are still relishing in excitement from the trip.

Napa Valley Westin Hotel

Westin Napa Resorts

 

We stayed at the Westin Verasa Napa resort. They were so good to us; they upgraded us to a one-bedroom suite upon arrival (that never happens!) and had complimentary tapas and wine every night. The resort is located within walking distance to downtown Napa Valley and the Oxbow Market, and sits along the Napa River.

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

After checking into our hotel, we walked over to the Market for dinner. We ate at Kitchen Door (the pizza is fabulous) and indulged in an old-school double scoop of ice cream at Three Twins Ice Cream. We explored the many different vendors in the Market and then enjoyed a super relaxing walk back to the hotel. It was the perfect start to a vacation we’ll never forget.

Here are some photos of us exploring the Oxbow Market, and of our view walking back to the resort.

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Napa Valley

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Napa Valley Mom Blogger

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I was putting the lens cap back on my camera when I accidentally snapped this picture and yet, it’s my favorite photo from the night. See my camera strap in the way? Me either. I’m just focusing on the moment too. 🙂

Seven Years Strong

scottsdale wedding

scottsdale wedding

Little did we know that this exit was just the beginning.

Today we celebrate 7 years of marriage! People always tell you life goes by so fast and I’m pretty sure they are right. We’re in Pinetop, Arizona this weekend spending our free time relaxing at the cabin and we managed to find the only restaurant in town that takes reservations (also see: kind of fancy) and doesn’t have a kids menu. We are sold! We’ll be going there tonight, sans kids, to celebrate.

Date Night Part I: RA Sushi Bar

sushi date night
Ryan and I were challenged by our church to go on a date once per week for the next four weeks. It’s part of our newest series on relationships. At first we both thought the same thing, This is kind of hard to do when you have little kids and you both work full-time, and then we turned to each other and realized that this was probably the point. Find the time. So, we put down the laptops, the iPhones and our in-laws watched the kids so we could embark on a Tuesday date night out.

sushi date night

We ran to our favorite sushi bar for a little wine and dining. We were done a lot faster than we anticipated (apparently no one goes to eat out at 5pm anymore? Anyone?) – so we ran home and watched one episode of The Killing before picking up the kids. We’ll be doing one formal date per week through the month of September. I could sure get used to this.

My brother’s engaged!

There’s really no other way to say it than to scream it from the rooftops. My brother is engaged! I am so happy for these two, I can’t even stand it. I’ll skip the engagement story, because it’s not my story to tell, but it was full of romance and – in true Shaun fashion – was planned out to a tee.

I was sitting around the dinner table with my family when we got the call. I screamed, jumped up and down, and cried. My kids were so confused. Colton was wondering what I was doing. Kelsey came over to the iPad and asked what was happening. When I told her that Shaun asked “Beena” to marry him and she said yes, she started to smile. In fact, it was the first thing Kelsey said this morning. She rolled out of bed and said, “Mommy. Shaun and Sabrina are going to have a wedding.” My heart melted.

You always dream that your brothers will grow up to be successful, smart, normal, healthy people and you never really know who they are going to marry. But with Sabrina … we all scored big. She’s the most loving, caring and beautiful girl and the best part is, she loves Shaun so much. I know she would do anything for him. And him for her. I am over the moon happy and apologize in advance because there are probably more emotional my-brother-is-getting-married-posts to come.

Congratulations you two. I can’t wait to celebrate your happily ever after!

brother engaged

Postinos and Paid Time Off

You know lunch is going well when it involves a pitcher of beer for him and a glass of wine for her. That was our Friday. Ryan I took personal time off and spent it at Postinos. We had a long lunch, went shopping, and just talked. We caught the winning UofA game, courtesy of the ESPN app on our phones and that was that. A wonderful Friday, built for two.

date 2

date 1date 4 date 5 date 6A sign of a good date: the off-center, head-chop selfie.

date

date 10

24 Hours in Las Vegas

Here’s how our quick, 24 hour birthday trip to Vegas looked. (I promised myself I wouldn’t take pictures – rather, just enjoy every second). And then, there I was snapping a few photos. Just a few. That’s progress.

Vegas 1

It’s Vegas. Faux eye lashes and lots of shimmer are in order. We stayed at the Westin, which is slightly off of the Strip and sandwiched in between Bally’s and Flamingo. It was really nice. Super close to everything and we’re SPG loyalists, so it worked.

Bellagio Vegas Casino

We enjoyed a little gambling and wine before dinner. After our 1/2 mile walk to the Bellagio turned into 30 minutes. Everything looks so close in Vegas! It’s not.

VegasWe saw some really interesting folks while walking around. This guy was cool and creepy at the same time. I learned from Ryan this is a Storm Trooper. I have never seen Star Wars (don’t hate) so I just thought this was some knight in shining white armor. With a laser.

Ceasars Palace Vegas HotelEveryone looks at the lights, but I like to look up at the buildings. It was right after this moment that Ryan and I realized ‘hey, we are in Vegas!’. We have two kids. People with two kids don’t do these kind of things.

Vegas Casino - RyanThen we put on our game faces and got all kinds of serious with an electronic game of poker. Ryan taught me how to play. We went ‘max bet’ and threw down $1 each draw. I know … we’re wild.

Hyde Vegas Hotel

It was the craziest thing. On our way to Jasmine at the Bellagio, I ran into one of my co-workers. She works out of our Seattle office and was dining next door. What are the odds of that?

Jasmine Bellagio ChopsticksDinner at Jasmine was unreal. Truly remarkable. It’s Chinese food with a great view of the fountains. The china, the service, the food (especially the Chilean sea bass) were remarkable. See the chopsticks? They had silver on the ends, like china chopsticks I suppose. It was all really fancy (but not too fancy). Because we’re not 5 star people. We’re like 4 star. At most.

Jasmine Bellagio Restaurant

In this moment, Ryan leaned in, “Just say no when she comes around, okay.” There was a lady taking pictures of couples at dinner. Before I could put my camera away, there she was – standing over our table. “Can I take your photo?” Sure? I said. Ryan groaned.

Joke was on me. She had us stand up. Pose like we were at prom. “Arm on his chest. Hand on her waist. That’s good. Now kiss his cheek. Put your hand on your hip. Now, you all by yourself.” Humiliating.  The entire restaurant was staring at us, as we embarked on a mini photo shoot.

Then, she came back again. This time with the photos. You could see fear in our eyes in every photo. She was good. But not “$140 for all 4 photos” good.

Jasmine Bellagio Dinner View

Jasmine came highly recommended from a friend, who had spent her anniversary dinner here. It’s really a special place. The view can’t be beat.

Bobby Flay Mesa Grill Vegas Bar

We like to eat dinner one place, then go somewhere else for dessert. And that’s just what we did. We went to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. We sat at the bar and ordered cocktails and the deep dish banana cream pie.
.Bobby Flay Mesa Grill Vegas Dinner

I think we camped out at this bar for another few hours. Just talking. Laughing and enjoying Vegas. If you ever get the chance to surprise your husband for his birthday, get a babysitter for the kids and do it!  Dating your husband and traveling with your best friend is something that can’t be beat.

Vegas Limos

The next morning, we got up, ate breakfast at the hotel, gambled some more, then took a limo to the airport. Because … well, why not? We were back home by 3pm, anxious and ready to see the kids. It was the best birthday-surprise date ever.

The Wife Hat: Surprise trip to Vegas

Doesn’t he look surprised in this photo? I was beaming with excitement and he was so confused. You see, I had made dinner reservations for his birthday … in Vegas!

I had kept the entire thing a surprise. We went up for dinner, spent the night and came right back home … just the two of us (the best part). We left Phoenix at 3pm on Friday and returned at exactly 3pm on Saturday. It was truly one of the best trips I have been on.

We had dinner at Jasmine at the Bellagio, which was fantastic! We had a table by the window so we were able to see the Bellagio Fountain Show go off every 20 minutes or so. Dinner lasted over 2 hours (if you have kids, you know how rare this is).

Then, we walked casino to casino just laughing, gambling and people watching. We ended up at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill for drinks and dessert: the banana cream pie to be exact. We seriously had such a great time. And, for the record, only lost $6.

Happy birthday, babe. I love you more today than ever.

Vegas

Listen outside of your comfort zone

The saying goes, “The magic happens outside of your comfort zone.” Well, let’s just say I went to a metal concert. Yep. A metal concert. Why? I was being the nice wife and taking my accountant, straight laced husband to see his favorite band play at a local venue.

“They used to be a heavy metal band, but now they are just rock. You’ll like it,” he repeated over and over for the past two months. I knew that I would hate it, but it was a great excuse to hang out with my man sans kids. As I was getting dressed my husband looked at my bright blue skirt and said, “Um. You might not want to wear that.” “Why not?” I asked. “I just don’t think it’s that kind of concert” he replied.

Now, you tell me – what kind of concert doesn’t welcome a beautiful, flowy colored skirt. Rude! Needless to say, I put on dark denim, a black top and a black, leather bomber jacket. And flats. Apparently it’s “not a heels place either”.

Off we went. We drove up to the parking lot at 7pm. Our ticket stubs said 6:30pm so we thought we were being fashionably late. Let’s just say we haven’t been to a concert together since … well, since Kelsey was born. A lot has changed in three years. Or, rather – we have changed in three years.

We stroll up to the ticket counter. “We are here to see Anathema”, we said in our coolest voices. “Sure thing. Here’s your tickets. They won’t go on until 10pm or so.” TEN PM!!! What are we going to do for 3 hours? And what band starts at 10pm? After those words came out of our mouths, we looked at each other in shock. When did we get so boring?

We’ll show them, we thought. Not really knowing who ‘them’ was. Maybe we just wanted to prove to ourselves that we still had it. It being the cool, young, carefree part of ourselves that we’ve been suppressing since we became the parents of two young children.

We took off to Mill Avenue (the college part of town). We soon found ourselves at two bar stools, sitting in the middle of a busy sushi bar. We caught the end of a college football game. Threw back a beer (and glass of wine). Ate some sushi. And the best part? Our concert hadn’t even started yet. We had time. Time to catch up. Time to talk uninterrupted. Time to ourselves.

Then, we checked the time. Time to go to the concert! And, to my surprise, this rock band from Liverpool was surprisingly good! And calm. The instruments were amazing. You could really hear the emotion in their songs. There was a moment when the lead singer said, “Now we’re going to dig in the Archives and play …” and I about lost it. What if there is a mosh pit? What if they start screaming and I have to throw a grown up tantrum and leave? My poor husband. This is his night.

And then they played – and again, no yelling. No hard core metal. Just cool, cool music. I think music just does that to you. Concerts too. They take you to a different world. You really get wrapped up in the moment and overwhelmed (in a good way) in the stories they tell with their voices. I liked it. Here’s a little snip it of one of their songs. You might like it too.

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