Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Gino starts school

     Gino finally started his "teacher and me" program in mid September. Both Sal and Carla both attended this drop off class as two year olds and loved it. He has the same teacher as they did, and has done really well with drop offs  (he only cried twice).

     I was initially really hesitant to enroll him because he is quite aggressive and dare I say it, hot and cold at home. He is my biter and my hitter, and my look- you- in- the- eyes- and-raise-my middle-finger kid. Okay, maybe not the last one, but he does bite and hit....like, a lot.

     He really loves his teacher and asks me if his friends are there every day we head to school. His teacher says he behaves well and participates in activities, although he is much like Sal in the art department. We did discover that while he doesn't care to paint, he does love to glue.

    It is so fun to watch my kids grow and learn and become independent. Even my baby.  He's full of sentences and jokes and questions and I can't get enough. With the older two both in kindergarten and preschool, Gino has three mornings a week with me solo. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this little boy of mine without big brother and sister around. He's my sidekick and loves to help me grocery shop and point out trash trucks.

  Three more years and he will be off to Kindergarten. I am acutely aware of how fast time flies, and I'm gonna hold onto this one and keep him my baby, forever. Even if he does grow up.

Friday, September 1, 2017

We have a Kindergartner!

     We've officially got a Kindergartner in the house! Our district began school on August 23rd, so we just completed our first FULL week of class, and boy are we ready for a three day weekend to recoup.

    Sal has a wonderful teacher this year. She's open, kind, funny and very very organized. In fact, she had sign up for parent volunteers at the kindergarten information night before school even began! I am really impressed with how quickly she has gotten these kids up and going. There are three incentive/ reward systems that are really working for Sal, including one with pennies that he can save up (or lose) and buy a trinket when the school volunteer opens his "shop". They have a jump rope club, which he can earn a medal when he reaches (and counts to 100) jumps. So far, after only one week, his highest tally is 91. I love how they've incorporated gross motor skills and play with learning numbers, etc.

    He was a bit ambivalent about starting kindergarten and continues to seem unsure about the permanence of school ( sorry buddy, its 5 days a week for the rest of your childhood and early adulthood life!), but has so far--knock on wood--had easy drop offs, and no tears. It probably helps that he knew five kids in his class prior to school starting, and has a couple other preschool buddies in the other kindergarten classes.

   Sal still continues to prefer solid or striped clothing, but branched out with his new kicks, choosing checkers this time! To top it off, he requested a checkered backpack to match his shoes. Thank goodness for Amazon prime! I'm pretty much convinced if Amazon doesn't have it, it doesn't exist.

    As for the little kids and myself, we miss Sal. Our mornings are quiet without the ruler of the roost telling everyone what to say and do. It's amazing how one child changes the dynamic of a group so much. I look forward to one on one time with each of my littles while Sal is at school, as well as finding a few days to volunteer in his classroom.

Visiting Papa Jet + Meme

    Our family (plus my sister) spent a week in Nevada  back in July. This was our third trip to my dad and step mom's property in Northern Nevada since we've been back from China. I wish we could go up there more often, but work obligations and the long drive (7.5 hours) have deterred us from visiting more often. Now that the kids are older and almost all potty trained, I think we'll probably try and get up there more often. We all have SO much fun every time we go.

    We spent the first day hanging out around the house; letting the kids enjoy horseback riding, quad riding and splashing in the kiddie pool while we lounged around drinking beers and  catching up. My dad took Sal, Nick and me "up the hill" to get a view of Lake Topaz and Smith Valley. Little did I realize until we were already fully committed to a one-way switch backing dirt trail straight up a damn mountain what we were in for.  The ride was worth the view though. It was really cool being able to see Smith Valley from one side, and then turning 180 degrees to see Topaz lake. 

   On Monday, Nick, Sal and my dad went fishing at Lake Topaz. Sal not only caught his first fish ever, but also the first one on his grandpa's new boat! He continued on to catch two more! He was quite excited to show us ladies (& Gino) when we arrived a bit later for a boat ride. Nick showed him how to clean it out, and my dad prepped at grilled it for Sal's dinner. He was so excited to try fresh trout, but has determined that he still prefers ocean fish like flagfish and cod. 

We girls went into Reno and had lunch and shopped for Meme's birthday. We found a fabric store called Mill End fabrics--also known as paradise to anyone who loves fabric as much as I do! It was dejavu when I walked in-- recalling being in that very store about 24 years ago with my mom when I was in Reno for a gymnastics competition. I ended up buying some by the pound lycra with visions of bikinis on my mind. 

All in all, another fantastic trip to my dad's in the books. Already looking forward to our next trip up there.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Happy Campers {Faria Beach Campground}

    Nick and I always talk about going camping, but found out pretty quickly that if we don't reserve months and months in advance, that camping isn't going to happen. It's phenomenal how fast sites go...like, literally within minutes of them being released on the reserveamerica site. Nick asked around and found out that we actually have a few in our area that are first come first served, so he scouted out for spots after work last Wednesday, but got skunked. He went again on Thursday at lunch ( with the knowledge that checkout is 11;00 am) and as he was leaving the campground-dejected--he saw someone pull out of a spot just steps from the beach. You can bet he got over there and popped up one of our tents and paid for the spot!

    We managed to throw everything together within a couple of hours (hooray for being OCD about re-packing after each trip..It's always ready to go!) and hit the road after Carla's last day of her "teacher + me" class for the year.

   The kids had so much fun. A dirt covered, sunskissed, cheeto eating, staying up way too late kind of FUN. These are the memories that Nick and I hope our kids remember from childhood. Time spent as a family, unplugged and free of most of our material belongings. I have to say, there was FAR less fighting this last weekend. It was a beautiful thing..as was the beach. I loved being just steps from the sand. The kids climbed on the rocks and we enjoyed sunset cocktails every night before lighting up the fire pit for smores.


I think we're hooked. I'm already checking our calendar to see when we can go again!


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Life, lately

   This post is a smorgasbord of what we've been up to over the last few months. Not having regular access to a laptop has really cramped my blogging style, but I'm not ready to pull the trigger and purchase one of my own since the only thing I really ever use a laptop for IS blogging. Just finding the time to sit down and write is difficult enough with three little ones running everywhere. Hats off to the bloggers who do this for a living!

   Anyhow, we're knee deep into life around here. A few weeks ago, Sal finished his speech therapy for the year, and we're so proud of the progress he has made and improvement in his articulation. He made huge improvements with his therapist, and I can't say enough good things about early intervention and what a difference it can make.

   Sal and I attended his Kindergarten assessment, and he got to check out the classrooms and playground at the elementary school he will be attending. We saw MANY familiar faces from both his PreK class and last year's Preschool class. He's feeling quite confident. He has been practicing counting and writing his name in preparation for the assessment ( not sure where he got it in his head that they were going to require him to do that or "I can't get in to Kindergarten, mom!"). He's super into counting, and his favorite afternoon activity as of late has been listening to my old ipod and writing down the numbers of the songs he likes. He's definitely a mathematically minded kid, which excites me, as I am anything but.

   Carla has been attending a drop off "teacher and me" class all year, and it is coming to an end in the next few weeks. Come September, she will be an official Pre-Schooler, going 3 days a week! She no longer naps, but instead likes to "help" me with my daily chores/ jobs. This last week she got to sew with me, and has asked if I will teach her how to sew a "really pretty fancy doggie dress for [her horse] Silhouette to wear". I suppose I'd better start working on a pattern, because she brought it up again last night. She's at the age of story telling, which is a little frustrating, but we've told our kids that our ears wiggle when they lie, so her hands covering her ears is usually a dead giveaway.

Gino has been a million miles a minute. He decided early last month that he wasn't going to sleep in a crib anymore. The first day went really really well, and made me think"hey...we've got this whole parenting thing nailed." The next day would cause me to put my foot in my mouth. It's been a nightly struggle ever since. We're still trying to find something that works long term, for both us, and him. Singing "Mary had a little lamb" thirteen billion times til he falls asleep works for him, but definitely not for us. We will find a solution, but it's been pretty chaotic around here between 7-9pm this last month.

As for Nick and myself, he's had a few weeks at home without travel, which has allowed him to complete some home improvement projects and keep up with the yard. He's gotten to surf a bit, and enjoyed a visit from his brother just last week. His biggest project as of late has been ripping out our garage shelving and building out our rafters to allow for more square footage of storage space. He completed the whole thing solo. That's some determination (and sore shoulders!). He's currently working on a laundry unit for me, so all of my stuff has a place to go (rather than on top of my washing machine). 

I've been busy with the kids, a few orders for Bucky & Boo carriers and trying to keep the house from burning down. Most of my days are spent cleaning up after the kids, but I have had a chance to sew a little and practice my newest hobby of hand lettering chalkboards. It's harder than it looks! I erase a lot and don't use a projector, so practice makes better! I'm still in the gym 3-4 days a week for lifting and a little cardio. It's my hour of sanity many days, and the kids seem to enjoy the kids' club that is associated with our gym. 

So, yeah, that's what we've been up to. Lots and lots of the mundane everyday stuff, with some fun times mixed in. Oh, and this........

What is this? You ask? 

This is us learning the hard way that three red potatoes do NOT fit down our toilet. Any guesses as to who the culprit was? The very next day, my electric toothbrush suffered a near fatal flush. Do they even sell toilet locks anymore? And if so, could my 3 and 5 year old kids get the lock undone to use the toilet in times of need? Or would I just be exchanging swimming household items for puddles of pee on my floor? These are the burning questions that keep me up at night. 

All the craziness aside, I love our three and know that one day, we will indeed miss all of this.


Carla started gymnastics last month.

This probably doesn't come as a surprise to those who know me.

It was basically inevitable.

She was so so so excited to suit up in her leotard, and sported two Aly Raisman buns in her hair for her first class. Her class started 15 minutes after Sal's, and the wait was almost the death of her (and me!). She got to jump in the foam pit & swing on the bars--but wasn't so sure about the balance beam.

She definitely wasn't the best listener in class ( dare I say, maybe the worst?!), but we're a few classes into the session now, and she's doing much better with both listening and waiting her turn. She also agreed to walk the balance beam last week!

Annnnnd the best move Carla learned, was her "stick it" position. She shouts, " ta da!" and raises her hands in the air just like she's a final five team member. 

Yosemite 2017

       We've been going to Yosemite more years than I can count now. It's a yearly pilgrimage made by many Zentil family members. It's grown over the years, with the addition of spouses and children. This year, there were over 30 of us sharing stories, food and adventures in the beautiful Yosemite valley.

      This was also the first year since 2012, that we didn't have to schelp baby gear for any of our kids, which was bittersweet for me, but so much easier. While two is still young, it was the first year we weren't stuck in a hotel room for two naps a day and an early bedtime. We let the kids play their hearts out with cousins, aunts and uncles. They ran, they played games and stayed up late just soaking up all the love our extended family provides. I always marvel at how lucky they are to get to know their family.


Til next year, Yosemite!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dear Ice Cream Man

Dear Ice Cream Man,

        For the last few weeks, we've heard your familiar music box melodies make their way through the neighborhood. I know that those songs are made to bring all the ice cream lovers out of their yards and homes and over to your truck to feast on the ice cold goodness that only ice cream and popsicles can deliver.

     There's a certain two year old that runs in our house whenever he hears the faint sound of the ice cream truck moving towards our neighborhood. One would assume he'd be running in asking me to buy him a treat, but instead, he's running for cover. You see, Gino has developed a fear of the ice cream man. Just the mention of ice cream, or the faint melodies of your truck in the distance bring out a quivering lower lip and the repetitious "ice Keem, ice keem, Scared." from my kid as he runs to me for comfort.

    Every. Single.Time.

    We've tried telling him that the ice cream truck isn't scary. We've even given him ice cream and told him his dad is the ice cream man. But still, a few times a week, as you roll through, there's a frightened two year old that runs for cover. I guess what I'm saying is you don't need to waste your time rolling down our street any more, because if he had it his way, the doors would be barricaded and dead bolted ten times over before he'd step out to say hi.


The mama of a ice cream truck phobic

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A chip off the old block

Sal has been begging me to sign him up for gymnastics for the better part of a year now. He has attended kindergym classes at a local gym, and has also tried a parks and rec class, but neither one fit his criteria of " real gymnastics for boys only". After mulling it over and stomaching the fact that everything costs a shitload of money these days, I researched our local gymnastics centers and finally narrowed it down to one in particular who has had many gymnasts reach the collegiate level. In a sport like gymnastics, so many kids burnout or get injured from improper coaching and technique. the fact that a gym has so many boys reaching high school still involved in the sport speaks volumes to me about the level of coaching and safety taken into account within their training.

We started last Saturday with a class that met all of Sal's prerequisites. A BOYS ONLY "real" gymnastics class. He stretched, pushup'd, rope climbed and learned the all to familiar men's gymnastics "stick" position after landings. His coach was surprised he has never had any formal gymnastics training, and asked Sal how he knew how to do some of the skills already. Sal replied, " because I have my mom's pants. [genes]". I about died when his coach shared that with me . He came home later that afternoon and practiced his "sticks" on our trampoline and tried teaching Carla how to do it too.

the rope climb warm up

We had the opportunity to "make up" two classes that he "missed" because we signed up mid month, so he went twice this week and had a different coach. His first make up class he was the only child and had a chance for some one on one coaching and lots of time jumping into the foam pit, which he loved. Midway through class, during a water break, the coach approached me and asked where we saw Sal going with gymnastics. I didn't understand what she was getting at until she then said that she felt  he may be a great addition to the club's boys developmental team. She says he shows lots of potential and awesome body awareness. That made my heart swell with pride.

In the next few weeks/classes, we will learn more about what his joining the developmental team will entail. The team is currently in competition season, so he likely won't have a spot until after season ( end of May), which is okay by me. He says he wants to do it. He says he wants to be on tv someday ( didn't we all when we were young?). We will support our kids in whatever activity they choose to do, so long as they are enjoying the challenge of the activity. It won't always be 'fun", but if they enjoy the challenge, we are behind them 100%.

So, here's to Sal and chalk covered callused hands!

Babies no more

You guys.

For the first time in six years, we don't have any babies in our house.

No more babies! This is 2, 3 & 5!

Gino is on the cusp of two, and I'm asking myself, "When on Earth did that happen?" and, " Was I there?"

It's a little surreal.

I can't even remember the last time I stepped foot in Babies R Us. That place was like my second home for a while after we moved back to the states. We were constantly buying formula, diapers, carriers, jumpers, sippy cups, bottles, mess mats, carseats upon carseats an well, you get the picture.
A lone high chair and a boppy pillow that he lounges on are the last standing evidence of anything baby around here. The bottles and teething toys, push walkers and bottles of puffs are all gone. Long gone.

With his favorite piece of comfort. The Thumb.

As we enter what's commonly known as the "terrible twos" with Gino, I'm buckling up and holding on tight, cause I'm pretty sure he's going to take us for one heck of a ride. While he still enjoys snuggling and laying claim on his mama's lap, he is also VERY opinionated and stubborn. Maybe it's a third child thing, but this boy knows how to assert himself with some pretty solid moves. He's learning about time outs on a daily basis, and my mantra is '"Stay consistent. It WILL pay off.", even if I have trouble believing it in the moment.

Carla consoling G in our time out corner
While much of my day is spent policing kids over toy sharing and smack downs over the last Cheezits or yogurt pouch, my favorite part of the day is watching Gino run to the door when we hear Nick roll up the driveway. He's almost always the first to greet his dad with a great big "DAAAAAAAAAD!" said with such enthusiasm and pure happiness.

Dad's home!
Some of Gino's favorite activities as of late have been trampoline jumping, jumping off furniture, crib climbing and water play. Since he mastered the climb very early in life ( he learned to scale our eleven foot retaining wall at 15 months old), he thinks nothing of climbing our kitchen counter to play with the sink faucet. He recently discovered that the nozzle come off and turns into a sprayer hose. I may or may not have ended up drenched more than once as I ran to turn the faucet off a time or two. I'm sure it will happen a few more times before his infatuation with water faucets comes to an end.

While I will miss having a baby around the house, I am excited for what the future holds for this family of ours. As the kids get older, a lot of the stuff we like to do will become a whole lot easier. Before long, nap times will be a past time, and we will be able to plan outings that go all day without fear of overtired meltdowns. We will be able to take trips and not require a pack and play or stroller. I'll be able to sign all of the kids up for activities, and nobody will be left on the sidelines simply because they are too young.

This is all good stuff.

Really, really GOOD stuff...

Welcome to TWO Gino Mario!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kindergarten ready!

     We've spent the better part of this month getting all the paperwork for Kindergarten prepared. Pages upon pages of paperwork and permission slips and releases and such. We've even completed his five year check up and gotten his immunizations squared away-- though they aren't technically due until he starts in August. A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I went to our local school and turned it in. I wasn't expecting it, but a wave of emotion hit as we were leaving the office and the receptionist said "Alright, see you in August, Salvatore!"

It just made it so real. So, soooo real.

He's ready. I'm ready. But still---Kindergarten already?!

I'd better not blink or he will be in college.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Kona Trip 2017

        Last month we escaped the California winter with a week long trip to Hawaii with NZ's side of the family. We celebrated 3 & 5 on Friday the 13th, and jetted off early the next morning for Kona, Hawaii. While California is many people's idea of paradise, this winter has been anything but paradise. Cold weather and tons of much needed rain made Kona a much needed vacation!

    Joining us were NZ's dad, brother & his family and his sister & her family. That was fourteen people total! My kids were amped to see their cousins and share a room with them since the rental house actually had a bunk room set up! ( side note: message me if you want the contact info--would totally rent this home again!)

    We spent most of our week at the beach. With young kids, hiking didn't seem doable, and thanks to a stomach bug that hit NZ and Gino, we felt like puking was best done at the house or beach. The bug definitely put a damper on our time in Kona, but we still went out daily and made sure to get our shave ice fix!

   One of our favorite beaches was the turtle beach. HUGE sea turtles could be found basking in the sun on the sand, or in the shallow waters at our feet. We visited this beach a few times because of the calm waters and cool turtles. I was quite impressed that the beach had full time volunteers roaming the shore to remind tourists to give the turtles space. It was a reminder that this is THEIR beach, and we are just visitors.

   My father in law treated us all to a Luau midweek. It was my first one ever, despite my having been to Hawaii a handful of times in my life. I didn't have high expectations for it ( or my kids' behavior) but it was FANTASTIC. My kids were mesmerized the entire time, as was I. Both Carla and Sal got serenaded with a Hawaiian version of Happy Birthday, and Carla really got into the hula dancing.

    By Friday, Carla was taken hostage by the stomach bug, so we stayed close to the house, with a quick trip into town to look for souvenirs and a visit to the local farmer's market. Sal was stoked to find his beloved longa'n berries, and we finished the evening off with more shave ice at sunset.

      The flight home on Saturday was spent worrying that Carla would puke all over the seat in front of us, but thankfully, she and Gino slept a great deal of the trip with ZERO puking. Unfortunately, Carla ended up with her first ambulance ride a couple days later due to extreme dehydration.

Nothing like finishing off a trip with a trip to the hospital, amirite?