Friday, April 29, 2016

Yosemite 2016

We took our annual trip to Yosemite National Park a couple of weeks ago. Every year, my husband's side of the family makes the trek up there for a long weekend of hiking, climbing, biking, cribbage playing, reading, eating and hanging out together. This year, a grand total of 34 of us were there. That's a pretty good turnout, considering most don't live in state anymore. 

I won't lie. I was anxious about how well five of us would be able to share one hotel room without killing each other, but to my surprise, our kids did an excellent job calming down and being quiet when it came to nap and bedtime. Gino even slept through the night every night there (don't get excited....he hasn't slept through the night since!). 


This year was magical for Sal. He's been twice before, but this year, the magic of Yosemite clicked. He wanted to climb every rock, see the waterfalls, dig in the dirt, and spy on some wildlife. He'd run from Boulder to Boulder requesting we take his picture on top of it. It was so cool to watch him enjoy nature. 


Carla was a trooper, tagging along behind Sal everywhere he went, but she was still more interested in playing in the hotel room with her cousin Gianna. I had taken some activities for the kids to keep them busy in case of poor weather (which was forecasted), but thankfully, we had no rain or snow--just some chilly mornings. Gianna and Carla hit it off and spent most of our trip asking for one another when they had to be apart. I love that our kids have a chance to get to really know their extended family.


Gino had started walking about a week before we left, so that changed the game a little, as he wanted to walk everywhere versus being carried or put in a stroller. We let him down to explore a bit, and he was all over climbing the logs at one of the picnic sites. 


We took a few family hikes-one was easy, and the other kicked our ass. We did The hike to the bridge at vernal falls with the two big kids in the double stroller and Gino in my ergo. It was one steep climb! After many, many stops to catch our breaths we finally made it to the bridge and it was well worth it. I've never seen so much water in the falls as I did this year. We also vowed to get in better shape if we ever plan to push a stroller or carry another child on that hike again. It was no joke.  The easy hike was to Mirror lake. I packed lunches and we found a nice sunny spot to sit and eat before heading back to the hotel for naps. 

                                        [ gorgeous. It gets me everytime ]

                                        [ family hike to the lake for lunch]
Every evening one family would take charge of the main course. We took on Thursday night, and Nick made a family recipe, named " Dego" burgers.  These Italian sloppy joes, topped with mozzarella were originally created by his grandmother many moons ago when Nick's grandfather requested something "different" for dinner and all she had was Italian sausage, tomato sauce, cheese and bread.  They've been a Zentil family hit ever since. It was really cool to listen to the stories from Nick's dad, aunts & uncles that had to do with their mother and the creation of these burgers. 
                                        [Carla & a few of her "girl" cousins]

I say this every year, and I'll say it again. Having a family that loves each other enough to keep coming back, year after year, is so so special.  Many of us have children-mostly school age, and jobs. Time off isn't easy for anyone...but to have so many people willing to do whatever it takes so we can all be a part of each other's lives and carry on such a fantastic tradition is not lost on me.

I'm already looking forward to next year!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

A day in pictures

It's been a while since our last day in pictures. In fact, last time I did a post like this, we were still living in Wuxi. 

 So, here's our Friday in pictures. 

6:45 am- I woke up and showered before the kids got up. Hooray for getting in three showers this week!

7:15 am- time to pack Sal's lunch for school and warm up everyone's morning milk. I prepare lunch the night before and just throw in a juice box before putting it all in his backpack. These Sistema brand boxes are perfect for preschooler lunches. No baggies or Tupperware lids to waste and lose. 

7:45- breakfast. Today they chose toast. After breakfast comes brushing teeth, taking our vitamins and getting dressed so we can get out the door and get Sal off to preschool. 

9:30 am- Sal is safely delivered to school and the little kids and I are off to the gym. This is MY time. Weights, then cardio. Thankfully my kids love the gym daycare. 

10:45 am - back home with the little kids for an hour before we meet Nick and his dad for a Friday lunch date. I spent the better part of the hour trying to keep this little guy out of my appliance cabinet. Anyone know what kind of locks work on corner cabinets? 

11:45- Gino passed out on the way to lunch. I hate waking sleeping babies...but tacos were waiting. I can't pass up Mexican food. Ever. 

3:30 pm- little kids are napping and Sal wanted a snack. Is it bad the first thing I thought of when I opened the door was if it was too early to crack open my Mike's?  I even texted NZ and he replied with " is the afternoon". 

4:00 pm- Gino is up and I need to tackle our pile of laundry. I turned on a cartoon for the boys while I started folding. 

4:05 - Carla is awake now. In a matter of minutes, my living room has become a jungle gym. Our sofa cushions are on the floor and I'm throwing in the towel. (Edit: this turned out to be a good thing- Sal vacuumed under all my cushions and I was able to wipe off the snot trails and ground in goldfish crackers that had accumulated)

4:30 pm- Amanda is home! The kids love our neighbor/ babysitter and they saw her car parked in the driveway and ran out to greet her. They also begged her to see our new kitty (yep, we are getting a new kitten in a couple weeks), to which she obliged. 

5:00 pm- the kids came back from the neighbors and I talked them into doing a paw patrol puzzle versus watching Shimmer and Shine for the second time. 

5:45 pm- the big kids help me separate a head of cauliflower into pieces and put green beans into a steamer. Dinner prep is under way and they love helping. 

6:00 pm- in an attempt to keep this one out of my appliance cabinet and off my sofa, I carry him EVERYWHERE. I love this crazy boy even though he wears me out. 

6:30 pm - NZ is home and dinner is on the table. Caulifredo and green beans tonight. And Mike's. 

8:00pm - kids are asleep and it's time to play our "Life Below Zero" drinking game. We drink every time Sue says "predator", Jessie talks about his dogs, or Chip says "my wife" as well as anytime one of them talks about "subsistence". This leads to lots and lots of swigs of beer and cheersing between us-and usually an early bedtime because we aren't as young as we once were. 

And there you have it. A day in the life of our crazy circus.