Monday, December 17, 2012

Mason's Fire Truck Birthday Party!

Mason's fire truck-themed 2nd birthday party was a huge success! He has loved fire trucks for a long time so this theme only seemed appropriate. Ultimately, my goal was to get a fire truck at his party, but the Dallas Fire Department doesn't do private events and it was quite costly to rent one through a party service. So I put together a bunch of fire truck crafts for the kids to do instead as an activity, and pretty much told myself that my wish to get a truck at his party wasn't going to happen. That's until I randomly ran into a fireman from our neighborhood station a couple of days before Mason's party. He wasn't working the Saturday shift, but said it wouldn't hurt to try and bribe the guys with some yummy breakfast the morning of and ask if they could swing by for just 5 minutes. Well wouldn't you know that a little bribery worked! They sped by once with their sirens on and while that was so cool, I thought to myself that my muffins must not have been too good if that's all we're going to get. Turns out they actually got a call when they turned on our street and legitimately had to go! They came back as soon as they could though and let the kiddos play on the truck for a good 15-20 minutes. I am so happy it all worked out and couldn't thank the firemen enough. They made Mason's 2nd birthday party one we'll never forget!

I took way too many pictures, so instead of going on and on about the party, I'll let the photos do the work. Enjoy!

The Decorations
The activity 'stations'. Build Your Own Firetruck, Coloring, and Edible Fire Hoses
The guests
More guests
Party action. I love the 'my two dads' photo on the bottom right with Sean & Uncle Brian. :)

The Fire Truck!!!

Fun on the truck
Sean made Mason a kitchen for his gift and he loved it! He's also obsessed with this helicopter from BeBe & Papa.

Time for cake! Silly boy wouldn't use his hands.
Happy Birthday, Mason!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meeting Santa

The Santa Claus at NorthPark mall in Dallas is the most legit one I've seen. He's been in the role for over 20 years and has quite a few loyal followers (we're on our way to becoming one). Mason has visited him the past two years - we skipped his first year since he was just a teensy newborn. Both times have turned out the same. He didn't scream or cry, but he didn't jump for joy at seeing Santa either. I think he's a little perplexed and nervous, so he just kind of sits there without a lot of emotion. This was a couple of weeks ago and I've really been talking to him about Santa a lot since then. Now when he sees his picture or we read a book he gets a little more excited.

Meeting Santa
My friend Carrie and her son Jeff met us at NorthPark for lunch on the Christmas-y decorated lawn before we went to see Santa. The boys had a blast playing together after they ate. We gave them their space to run around and kept a watchful eye to make sure they weren't getting in harms way. It was cute to see them make their way through the maze of bushes and make each other laugh at who knows what.

Little drummer boys
It's a miracle that they were both looking at the camera, smiling and each holding one of the Nutcrackers hands.
Rolling around on the lawn

A comparison shot from last year to this year.  I didn't plan this at all, but now it will be a goal to always take a similar pic!

We had Breakfast with Santa this past weekend and didn't see much more excitement from Mason, but I think I might have overheard him mention that he wanted a 'Choo Choo' to Santa. Progress!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Seattle Thanksgiving

We were home from New York for a day and a half before we turned around a caught an early flight to  Seattle for Thanksgiving. Thankfully my parents kept Mason here in Dallas while Sean and I were in NY so he didn't have too many back-to-back trips and time changes. Mason was just under the two year mark when we flew to Seattle, which means he could still fly for free in our laps. Thankfully both legs of the trip had a little extra space on the plane and we were able to put him in his carseat in his own seat. This made traveling with him MUCH easier. He was still very busy and never got any shut eye on the plane, but at least he was contained to one spot!

Sean's parents live in Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle. Seeing Mom & Dad R alone is worth any trip, but it's a bonus that they live in a city that we have come to love so much. I know the rainy, dreary days get to the locals after awhile, but when you're visiting for just a few days it's a really relaxing and comforting environment. It rained every day we were there, and I enjoyed every second of it. It was nice to have absolutely nothing to do when Mason napped except to get comfortable under a blanket and read with a fire burning and rain pattering on the windows.

We all had some quality time together as a family and made sure there was at least one activity a day out of the house so that Mason could burn off some energy. My favorite was the long, rainy walk we took through the steep woods in my in-laws neighborhood that ends at a park on Lake Washington. We also visited the Bellevue Club, an amazing athletic club that Mom & Dad R belong to, and dropped Mason off in their childcare while we burned off some calories, grabbed a coffee, and sat down for lunch after we picked him up. The flagship REI is in downtown and we paid a visit there to browse the amazing selection and let Mason play in the giant treehouse/kids play area. We also fell back on one of our go-to places with Mason, Barnes & Noble, to let him read to his hearts desire and play with the toys they had on display.

Hanging out around the house was a blast as well. Mason loved coloring and playing Legos with his Grandma & Grandad and we enjoyed watching him race his cars around the house, play with the dog, and search for the cat. Every meal was delicious, and it was so fun for the adults to unwind with good conversation and the Seattle Times Super Quiz every evening during happy hour and dinner.

We are looking forward to our next visit with Mom & Dad R when they come here for Christmas. I know Mason will be ready to show off his new Lego skills and football hiking abilities. Sadly they're coming just five days after the Cowboys play the Steelers here in Dallas. That would have made for an interesting three hours in this house (Go 'Boys!).

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Traveling with a toddler requires a lot of luggage so we didn't bring our camera. These are all from my iPhone and mostly horrible quality! Hopefully the ones from Grandad's camera turned out better.

Our exhilarating walk with their new Golden, Mia (RIP Emma)
Our little reading nook at B&N

Playing with Legos at B&N and catching two matching adult men in the children's book section. :)
Outdoorsy fun at REI

L: A peaceful morning with the paper, coffee, fire and Legos. Top R: working on his circles. Bottom R: Filbert was always hiding from Mason!

Thanksgiving day. We might need to work with Mom R on her photo-taking. :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New York, Take Two

Last Christmas, Sean gifted me with tickets to Saturday Night Live. Tickets are very hard to come by (I've been trying on my own for a decade), but he has a friend that is an owner/operator of a couple NBC markets and was able to hook us up. It still wasn't an easy feat to get to the show. You may remember from this post that this wasn't our first trip to NYC this year. We went back in March with wait list tickets to SNL, and while we had a fantastic trip, we weren't called for the show. So we were promised tickets to the season premiere in September, but two weeks before our trip the tickets were given away to someone more important than us! Well the third time is a charm - we finally got tickets, actual tickets in our hands, to the November 17 show with Jeremy Renner and Maroon 5! For some reason we were sent tickets to the dress rehearsal, but we aren't complaining. It was literally the exact same show except for a few EXTRA sketches. I'll get into more detail below.

Friday, November 16
We made a really quick weekend out of this, flying in on Friday morning, and returning Sunday morning. I dropped Mason and Hazel at my parents the night before so we could get up and go bright and early. Many thanks to my parents for keeping an eye on our babies while we were gone. We stayed at the beautiful Waldorf Astoria in Midtown Manhattan. Sean had warned me that while it's a cool hotel, the rooms are tiny and to not be disappointed. We seem to have luck in this area when in NY however, and were upgraded to an executive suite upon arrival. It's was large and luxurious and I loved it!

After check-in we walked to the Upper East Side and stumbled on a delicious French restaurant, Le Charlot, for lunch (veal scallopini for me, mussels in white wine for Sean). The weather was sunny and brisk, perfect conditions for a long walk in Central Park. We really enjoyed the fresh air and scenery and were glad we took time to do this instead of rushing to another activity. We then hailed a cab to the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), which was on our list of things to do from the last trip. It was a little crowded due to the fact that it's free to get in after 4:00 on Friday's, but it was still really neat to see and we couldn't complain with the cost to get in! At this point we needed a little pick-me-up so we grabbed a Blue Bottle Coffee and sipped it while watching the ice skaters in Rockefeller Plaza. The big Christmas tree wasn't up yet, but we did see it hiding behind scaffolding!

Central Park
Central Park. I don't think Sean knew I snapped this pic of him and I love it!

Top: Blue Bottle Coffee. Bottom L: The Christmas tree behing scaffolding, lol! Bottom R: Rockefeller Center
Now it was time to freshen up and head to one of my favorite dinners ever at the Sons of Essex in the Lower East Side. By day the front of the restaurant is a deli, and you enter a little door in the deli to this amazing 'Gangs of New York' vibe restaurant playing old-school hip hop and serving American comfort food and Prohibition-era cocktails. The neighborhood is full of cool bars, one of which being Please Don't Tell (or PDT), an underground speakeasy of sorts. It's nearly impossible to get a reservation, trust me, I tried and failed close to 100 times, but we still popped in to see what all the hype is about. You enter by dialing a number from a pay phone in a shady hotdog joint called Crif Dogs. Then this mysterious door that you didn't even know was there opens to the exclusive bar and they take your name and say they'll call when a seat opens. While we waited for the call we made our way to two other really cool bars in the area, Swift and NoMad.  We stumbled upon a comedy club called Eastville and in complete spontaneity, grabbed tickets to a show. It was hilarious and filled with foul language and inappropriate jokes. We like to think that places like this are where NY comedians that make it big are discovered. Actually the likes of Louis C.K., Damon Wayans, Sarah Silverman, Judah Friedlander, Aziz Ansari, and other famous names either used to or currently perform there. As we were leaving the comedy club at 1:00 in the morning PDT called to tell me a table had opened for us. We laughed them off and hailed a cab to bed instead!

Sons of Essex dinner. Top R is the bakery/deli that you enter through.
Our bar-hopping night. PDT is inside this shady Crif Dogs joint!
Saturday. November 17
I really wanted to make our way to SoHo for some shopping, so we grabbed a quick-ish breakfast at Ess-a-bagel. I say quick-ish because I would assume that a bagel shop would be an in-and-out experience, but it's a much more popular spot than we anticipated and we ended up waiting in line forever! It was delicious though and worth the wait. We then surprised ourselves by figuring out the subway system and catching a ride to SoHo for some shopping. I was in heaven and didn't even scratch the surface of all the stores I wanted to check out. If you have a favorite online store that doesn't have a location in your city, chances are there's a location in SoHo! We made our way back to midtown for some more shopping and a late lunch before heading back to the hotel to get ready for SNL...
Left: Land of Nod - As much as I loved it in there I know Mason would die! Right: The only Dwell Studio store that exists!
Around SoHo. I promise I'm not as high maintenance as I appear in the picture!
Getting cozy on the subway 

Our tickets!
We got to the studios right when we were instructed to and waited patiently in line for our balcony seats. While we were waiting a girl that worked for the show came and pulled us out of line to ask if we'd like to sit on the floor instead. It took us about half a second to tell her of course we would! The studios are so small and there really isn't a bad seat in the house, but there are only 30 or so seats on the floor and they are right by all the action. Before the taping they moved the floor seat people to the actual hallway that the actors roam around to line up while we waited. It was lined with signed pictures of all the previous hosts and the green room was on the other side. A couple of the actors walked by and Bill Hader graced us with a little joke. Once we were seated I was amazed at how close we were - it felt like they were putting this whole show on just for us! My seat was on the aisle and I could have reached out and touched the actors every time they walked by. It was so cool to see how the show is filmed. It truly is a live show and they work so hard during commercial to get the next scene ready. There are cameras moving everywhere, rushed costume changes, props being moved and people running in every direction. They use every inch of the studio and only about three of the sketches were done on the main stage. The rest were in various corners of the studio. It's amazing how they can transform the place. Seeing Maroon 5 perform so close and in such a quaint setting was a surreal experience. I kept having to remind myself that I wasn't dreaming! Jeremy Renner was great and it was funny to see him in a comedic setting when he's usually so serious. Oh, and I have a new BFF. Vanessa Bayer from the show was standing in front of me at one point before the cameras started rolling. We made eye contact and she smiled directly at me. Then, when the show was over, she walked right by me, smiled again and waved! Sean said that if you didn't know me, you would think we were friends. She totally made my night and I will forever be a fan of hers!
Cameras weren't allowed in the studio but we snuck this one in their hallway by the green room before we entered!
Vanessa Bayer. We're tight.
We were on such a high after the show. I don't know if any other show experience will ever top that for me. We grabbed dinner in our hotel at the Bull & Bear and then drinks at one of the hotel bars, Sir Harry's, and talked of nothing but the show. Then we went up to our room and fell asleep while watching the live performance of the dress show we had just seen. It was literally the same thing.

NYC at night and a shot inside our hotel 
Sunday, November 18
We grabbed Starbucks and a cab and headed home early on Sunday. We were so excited to be there when Mason woke from his nap. Both my parents, Sean and I all went in to get him up and the first things he did was reach for my mom and say 'BeBe!'. My feelings were a little hurt but I'm glad he had such a great time while he was with them. It was nice to get back to our routine for a full 24 hours before we headed out to Seattle for Thanksgiving on Tuesday. More on that to come!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mason's 2!

I have gotten so far behind on the blog. We have been so busy and I have a lot of posts about our past few weeks that I need to write, but today this one jumps to the front of the list.

I cannot believe I'm about to type this - Mason is two years old today. It's true what they say about time flying and the days being long but the years being short. It is very, very hard for me to imagine that just two years ago I was cuddling my newborn in the hospital when I now have a toddler that never slows down. I'm thankful that he's still just as sweet as he was on that first day and takes time to give his mommy & daddy plenty of hugs, kisses and cuddles on a daily basis.

Weight: 28 lbs, 15 oz. (60%)
Head: 19 1/4" (50%)
Length: 36" (90%) His doctor said that your height at age 2 is indicative of your height for the rest of your life, so it looks like he'll be a tall one! Good thing he likes basketball. :)

Mason has lived such a large and exciting life in his two years. He is full of personality and has brought so much light to our lives, and the lives of those around him. He is loved by so many, and has more friends than I can count. I love every little thing about him and wanted to write a letter to capture who he is right now. I've done this at several other milestones in his life and it's always fun to look back at. He changes so quickly and I want to capture every phase before it passes.


I love you so much. I love your chubby fingers and how they wrap around the finger of whoever is holding you. I love your stocky body type and your insane level of strength. I love your hair and can't quite put my finger on what color it is. It's definitely red with some blond and brown mixed in. Strawberry-blond? Auburn? Still can't decide. Same goes for your eyes. Sometimes they are a beautiful deep brown. Other times they are hazel like your fathers. Most often they are a interesting shade of gray. You have thick, long eyelashes that make your mommy a little jealous. :) I love your squishy feet and how stinky they get when you wear shoes with no socks. Daddy loves the sweet smell of your head (and I do too). I love your big lips, especially when you plant them right on mine. You are so unique in both appearance and personality - my one in a million baby.

I love how social and friendly you are. You have many friends and have really starting playing with them instead of playing alongside them. I love how much you love sports. You are drawn to balls and love to kick, throw, hit and (sometimes) catch them. You love cars, trains, motorcycles, buses, emergency vehicles (especially fire trucks), construction equipment, tractors, airplanes, garbage trucks and basically anything with wheels. I've had to study my vehicles so I know what to tell you when you ask what something is. I love reading you books and watching you read books to yourself. For such a busy little boy, it's nice to see you focus quietly on an activity as important as reading. You especially love books about vehicles or animals. You love to cook. You love it so much that Daddy built you a kitchen for your birthday and you can't seem to get enough of it. Even though it's sometimes tough to keep up with you, I love how active you are. I'm not sure you know how to walk because you are always going full steam ahead. I love watching you jump, hop and dance, although sadly I think you got your parents rhythm. I love hearing you sing. Sometimes you attempt the ABC song or Twinkle, Twinkle, but it's more likely a Maroon 5 or Katy Perry song that you belt out. You love to learn and are very curious about how things work. You love going to school and we've received nothing but outstanding reports on your performance there. You love animals, especially Hazel, and I love how you call them by the sound they make, not  by their name (cow = moo, duck = quack, etc.). I love how tough you are, although I wish you'd give me some indication of when you've been scratched, bruised or bitten by a bug instead of letting me wait until bath time to see that you've been hurt at some point during the day. You love water - bathing in it, swimming in it, walking through it, drinking it and spraying it. You love to be outside and enjoy the world the way we all should. You stop to look at bugs, smell flowers, pick up rocks, and chat with strangers. You love those closest to you so, so much and we all return the love a million times over.

There are certainly things you don't love, and you have no problem voicing your displeasure with a scream, cry, or an all out flailing on the floor. You are no stranger to time out and discipline. I promise you that you will thank me later for instilling our values and rules in you, but for now you usually respond with resistance when you don't get your way. You do not like diaper changes. You would much rather play with your trucks in a dirty diaper than take one minute to freshen up and be more comfortable. I don't know if that's the boy in you or the two year old in you, but it is very challenging. You do like to use a big boy potty, but we haven't done a huge potty training push on you yet. You still don't like vegetables unless they're disguised in a casserole or pureed and combined with a fruit. You don't like being redirected or taken away from an activity that you've been enjoying. Getting you to come inside or to leave a park sometimes takes an act of God.

I could go on and on but I'd rather finish my chores while you nap so I can devote all my time to playing with you when you wake up. This letter was written by your mommy, but I know your daddy agrees with everything in it. You have brought so much meaning to our lives and I don't know what we did before you (except maybe catch the occasional movie together in the theater!). We love you to infinity and look forward to all the exciting moments your life will bring you and our family.


We sang him Happy Birthday when he woke up and gave him a yummy breakfast of eggs, bacon, jelly toast, blueberries, strawberries and milk. Then he played on the big kid playground at the Y since he's now too old for the baby room. Sean joined us at his 2 year check-up then Mason and I went to Jason's Deli for a lunch date that ended with ice cream. We played baseball outside when we got home, then he helped me water the flowers before coming in to watch Mickey Mouse, read books and take a nap. We still have some playtime to look forward to this afternoon before Daddy comes home and we take him out for his favorite dinner, Mexican. We'll drive around to look at some Christmas lights on our way home and then put our little toddler to bed. Here are some pics from the first half of our day today. Pretty fun day in the life of Mason!

Stickers and a snack at his check-up

Lunch date with Mommy

Stuffing a gingerbread muffin in his mouth

He loves forward facing in his carseat! I cheated and switched him about a month ago. :)

Playing baseball in his ball cap

Helping mommy water the flowers. And the cement. And his shoes. And his clothes. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ladies Night Out

Normally I'd title this post Mom's Night Out, or MNO as it's popularly referred to, but this night was different. A couple of weekends ago my friends (and fellow moms) Amanda, Caroline, Carrie, Lizzy and I treated ourselves to a night on the town and a one night stay in the luxurious Stoneleigh hotel. Yes, we are all moms. And yes, this was a night out. But we had one rule for the evening: no talking about our kids. Don't get me wrong, we all love our babies to the maximum and do all we can for them - more reason why we needed a night just to ourselves. It was a wonderful evening with a great bunch of ladies where we were actually able to sit down, relax, and finish conversations with each other. 

Our hotel was within walking distance of everywhere we wanted to go in Uptown Dallas, so after an early afternoon check-in (and some drinks while we got settled), we stepped out for appetizers and refreshments at Sfuzzi. Then we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for the evening and give Carrie a surprise baby shower for her baby boy due in February. Our evening was just beginning and everyone was in great spirits. We went to Common Table for a yummy dinner followed by drinks at the Dragonfly in Hotel ZaZa. We wisely made that our last stop and went back to the hotel for some nightcaps and girl talk.

Lizzy and Amanda needed to get back to their kiddos in the morning but Carrie, Caroline and I were able to squeeze in a brunch at Coal Vines before heading home. We were gone for less than 24 hours but it's all we needed to be rejuvenated! Cheers to the next one! 

Girls just wanna have fun

First stop: Sfuzzi Uptown for apps and bevs

Carrie's surprise baby shower. Lizzy and Caroline got 1st and 2nd in the celebrity baby name quiz! 
Watch out, Dallas!
I love how we all seem to be laughing at something in the top pic!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Doin' His Turn on the Catwalk

This past Saturday the Nordstrom near us had their annual kids fashion show and Mason was one of their 'models' for the event! We found out about it from the manager of the kids department when she saw him exercising his energetic behavior one day in the store. :) She said they were looking for 50-60 kids from 0-8 years old to participate and all he needed to do was come in for a fitting then show up on the big day and walk the catwalk! I knew it could possibly be a train wreck but figured it was worth if for the experience (and the pictures!). His handsome buddy Jeff joined him for the event and they both actually did really well considering they're just under two and three years old. There was a huge turnout and all of the kids that participated were in adorable little outfits. I ended up wanting to buy everything but was so overwhelmed that we walked away without purchasing a thing! Now his birthday/Christmas wish list is even longer. :)

While Sean stayed with Mason backstage, I was struggling to work both the video camera and the digital camera at the same time and ended up failing at both. These are the best shots I could get. I'll add the video to this post if I can ever get it to upload!

The scene

Jeff striking a pose 

Strutting his stuff!

In case they needed a little enticing, I had a little treat to get them down the runway 

Waving at his fans :)

Close up of his handsome winter get-up

Coloring in the shoe department

His pants were just a tad big! :)