Family

Holiday Cards and the Custom Experience

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IT’S FALL Y’ALL!

That saying always cracks me up.  Perhaps because it’s in part cheesy, perhaps a little cheeky.  I mean, can’t you just hear it rolling off the tongues of every stereotypical, big hair, big drawl southern Texas lady? Or perhaps its just because it adds a little humor into a season that often proves stressful.  If you are anything like me, Fall is blindingly busy.  (I think we can now say that about every season.)  But Fall tends to accelerate at a pace that seems faster than any other…most likely due to the fact that you now see Halloween and Christmas catalogues arriving by mail in summer, and holiday lights going up in September.  Each season that arrives seems to focus on the next season.  It becomes increasingly important for us, and for our families, to try and slow down. (more…)

Insider Tips on Great Photo Sessions

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Look at that precious little face above!  Isn’t he darling?  That’s my friend Gus’ son and he is just as precious in person as he is in that adorable photograph.  He’s a lucky little boy because his dad is an expert photographer, so he’s going to have loads of photos that are just as cute as this one.  What a well-documented life this little guy will have!  Gus is a dear friend of ours from our church in San Francisco, Reality, and has photographed our family numerous times – from baby photos of our first son to the birth of our second son to birthday parties and holiday cards in between, we LOVE having Gus photograph our family.  In fact, you’ll see some of the ones he has taken of us in the full post!  I’m always a little overwhelmed by the process of coordinating outfits for all four of us that blend well in color, but aren’t too matchy-matchy and in picking a cool location for our photos and getting the littles’ naps and meals coordinated just right so that he has happy and well-rested subjects to shoot.   (more…)

There’s Power In No Plans

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Today is a guest blog post by my friend Bethany Factor.  She’s one incredible and creative mama and she has some fabulously fun ideas to share and a great perspective-altering video as well…

Bethany is a mom of four kids 5 years old and younger. She recently launched a website called ThumbWar to help make you a better mother, father, spouse and employee. Her website is the perfect combination of personal assistant and best friend. She has created Houston’s largest parent rated activity and camp network. ThumbWar “battles boredom.” She is currently working on adding Houston’s largest parent rated pediatrician and pediatric dentist network. She is always interested in franchisees as well. (more…)

I Scream, You Scream…

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…we all scream for ice cream!  What to do on a Saturday night in Summer…grab a cone, of course!  Even though it it officially “Fogust” here in San Francisco, the fifty-degree weather didn’t stop us from a little frozen indulgence tonight.  We packed up the kids and headed over to the original location of the Bi-Rite Creamery.  If you haven’t yet tried this local spot, you owe it a visit.  Their ice cream is handmade and their dedication to detail is apparent in every bite.  They’ve got fabulous unique flavors and I have yet to try one that I don’t like. (more…)

Pet Peeves of the Photographer

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Amy Forbes Winebright is a good friend of mine from college.  Actually, both she and her husband Matt are both my friends from college.  Isn’t that fun?  They now live in Austin where she’s an amazing mom AND a talented photographer.  Her company is called Photobrights and her photography is fantastic. In today’s post, Amy is going to share with us what her top “pet peevees” are as a photographer. (Don’t worry – really, they’re just tips on how to get the best photos taken.) (more…)

Carmel Valley Ranch: Part 2

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On our first morning during our visit to Carmel Valley Ranch we relaxed in our luxurious room (complete with a fireplace!) and enjoyed the enormous balcony overlooking the mountains and vineyards.  The hubs and I relaxed on the comfy chairs and watched the littles blow bubbles to their hearts’ content. It was such a nice, relaxing morning.

The food at Carmel Valley Ranch is outstanding.  We had breakfast, lunch and dinner at the resort over the course of our stay and all were delish.  And the restaurant is so kid friendly.  It was really nice to have a nice meal, but also have our littles be more than welcome there.  In fact, at one point, our oldest boy (who is just under three) started to get a bit fidgety and the next thing I knew, the hostess was bringing him a cool little magnet game to play with to entertain him. (more…)

Carmel Valley Ranch

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This weekend, during our Summer of Fun, we took a mini-vacation to Carmel Valley Ranch.  What an incredible place!  Seriously.  This place is absolutely amazing.  Set in the Santa Lucia mountains.  The resorts boasts amazing golf, gorgeous hiking trails, a vineyard, tennis, two beautiful pools, a splash pad for the littles, a bocce ball court, yoga and many activity options. And that is to say nothing of the incredibly luxurious accomodations.  They are simply divine!  Nestled in the mountains, you absolutely cannot find a bad view in this place.  Lavender and vineyards abound, making this a wonderful place to relax…and play.  And did I mention the food?  Yum. (more…)

Domaine Carneros

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For four years now, every time we drive to the wine country, as we are cruising down 12 on our way to Sonoma or Napa, I point out the grand chateau that sits prominently on the side of the road.  I always marvel at the architecture of it and tell hubs that we need to stop there “sometime soon.”  He always agrees.  Yet, we’re usually headed somewhere specific and by the time we are driving back by it on the way home, either we are tired or the kids are asleep in the car. . . or both.

Recently, however, we made a point to stop in and we are SO glad that we did.  What a neat spot!  The chateau is the home of Domaine Carneros Winery, which is owned by the Taittinger family.  It’s not the small, offbeat vineyard that we usually love visiting or a quaint family-run one that feels like you’ve been to a friend’s home, but it is still a really great visit, nonetheless. (more…)

French Blue

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In the heart of St. Helena on the quaint little Main Street lies one of the cutest restaurants I’ve ever visited.  We discovered it nearly a year ago, just after it opened, and French Blue has quickly become a favorite spot of ours.  The ambiance is serene and inviting, the tables (and banquets!) are beyond comfortable, the space is cozy, complete with a fireplace, and the staff is incredibly friendly.  They are always so kind to us even as we traipse in with two kids aged two and under.  The maitre d’ is the nicest man and always offers to take our kids for a few moments and show them the kitchen and walk them around the restaurant to give us “a quick twenty minute date” (in his words.)  I mean, are you kidding me?  What a treasure this man is! (And our kiddos love him…well, that and parading around the restaurant with patrons fawning all over them!)  When we walk in, several of the staff recognize us and come to say hello.  That is more a testament to how sweet they are than to how often we frequent the place.  We have taken several friends (and their little ones!) to the restaurant and every one of them has told us that it will now be a regular spot for them.  It’s that good – and that cute. (more…)

Inn at Spanish Bay

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For Father’s Day, we drove down to Pebble Beach with my brother and sister-in-law who were in town visiting us before heading down to Carmel for a little vacation.  Pebble Beach was my father’s favorite spot, so it was really special to spend Father’s Day there with my brother and with my precious husband who is an amazing father to our two boys.  I am blessed, indeed.

We’ve been to Carmel a number of times, but had yet to hear the famous bagpiper at the Inn at Spanish Bay.  We finally made it there on this trip.  It was absolutely surreal and I highly recommend it if you’re in the area.  The bagpiper starts playing around 5.30pm on the 1st hole on the golf course to put the golf course to sleep, in Scottish tradition.  Then, he slowly walks towards the lodge, ending up there around 6pm and playing for around 30 minutes with a set that includes Amazing Grace. (more…)