Meet the Sullivans: 2014

December 31, 2014

2014, Looking Back...

2014 has been a great year for us! Here are some of the best of the best moments that stand out in our memories and on this blog!

In January we celebrated O's 2nd birthday with a family, train-themed birthday party at home!

In February we celebrated Valentine's Day and I made some pretty delish Chocolate Covered Strawberries that looked like footballs for our Superbowl party.

In March we visited the Bay Area Discovery Museum with my mom and sister. I made a DIY Jewelry Display and talked about how much I loving having son.

In April we celebrated Easter, I received and then blogged about my first Stitch Fix fix and we made some cute Bunny Cone treats together. 

In May O had his first trip to the dentist, we kicked off pool season with our friends and we celebrated Mother's Day in San Francisco.

In June I recapped a day in our life as it was in Spring '14, O took his first soccer class, we picked berries at a berry farm and celebrated Father's Day!

In July O rode his very first roller coaster, we took a little trip to Monterey & Carmel and I went to my first blog conference.

In August we celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary, went camping and O caught his first fish, I shared my tips for photographing kids and O took his first dance class.

In September O started his first year of preschool, we exchanged busy bags with our blog friends and we went to the Ghirardeli Chocolate Festival.

In October we visited the Pumpkin Patch, made silly Halloween snacks, celebrated Halloween and my birthday.

In November I wrote an article for my Mothers Club about Fostering Gratitude in Children, rounded up a list of our favorite Toddler Outings in the Bay Area and celebrated Thanksgiving with our families.

December we visited Santa's Tree Farm to pick our tree, sent our our annual Christmas card, took a trip to Disneyland with our friends, celebrated Christmas and saw Walking with Dinosaurs.

Tonight we'll be celebrating a low-key east coast new year at home, just us. Keith has been sick this week, so we thought it would be best to keep our germs to ourselves. I hope you have a safe, great New Year's Eve and start 2015 off on a great note!

Here are our 2013, 2012 and 2011 recaps, if you're interested! 


Wishing you all the best in 2015!

December 30, 2014

Weekend

I love the time between Christmas and New Years! The hustle and bustle of Christmas has dissipated, yet there is still an air of holiday magic and lots of fun to be had. We had a weekend of full of the fun!


Friday night we took O to see Walking with Dinosaurs! You can read my full recap of our experience here.


Saturday night my friends from high school (and through life!) and I had our annual Girls' Christmas Party! We've been having our annual holiday party since we were Juniors in high school, which means we've been doing it for 16 years now, which makes me feel old. It's rare that the 6 of us can all gather together in the same place because of distance, jobs, family and life, so when we do it is a really special occasion.

This year Jackie hosted us at her house!


We all brought something to contribute to the party -- apps, dessert, wine, etc. This year I brought a Persimmon and Pomegranate salad, which I will absolutely share with you all tomorrow because it was a hit!


I love checking out my friend's trees when we visit during the holidays, and Jackie's was beautiful! It's fun to see what ornaments are important to them and all the ones they've been collecting over the years. Christmas trees are a real conversation starter.



While I was checking out all of her ornaments I spotted this one that I had made for the girls way back in 2000 for our 2nd annual Christmas party. I think the other side says the persons name and has a few trees I drew. Check out those crafting skills ;) So cool that she still has it!


For our gift exchange this year we did a Secret Santa ornament exchange, which worked out really well, and everyone loved their ornaments. I collect shoe ornaments, and Jackie gave me six beautiful, new ones to add to the collection.


After lots of talking (had to get a word in with our friends because we all have so much to catch up on!) and great food we moved on to dessert, which was Allison's White Chocolate Bread Pudding--it is to DIE for. We also played Cards Against Humanity,


I seriously am so sad I couldn't find a picture from our first party to compare it to this one! Side by side comparisons are always so much fun.


On Sunday we went up to the San Francisco Zoo with our friends the Smith's. O and their son N are the same age, and it was so cute to watch them run around the zoo together. We left the stroller at home, so O walked almost the whole time. We were impressed with how well the boys could keep up because there is a lot of walking at this zoo.


We had such a great weekend, but early Monday morning Keith came down with a stomach bug similar to the one I had a few weeks ago. He's been out of commission and I've been washing hands and disinfecting the house like a madwoman. Looks like we'll be celebrating NYE at home just us this year, so if you have any NYE-at-home ideas I'd love to hear them! 

December 29, 2014

'Twas a Merry Christmas

Christmas has come and gone, my friends! We had a lovely holiday, and it was probably the most fun yet! ...Which is probably why I don't have too many good pictures this year -- we were too busy having fun that I didn't want to mess with the camera much.



On Christmas Eve we headed to 4 o'clock Mass with our families, and then returned home for Christmas Eve dinner with everyone.

Not relevant, but my husband loves being my subject when I'm trying to get the right light for our family photos. So glad he's patient with me and has a sense of humor when I want to try and get things just right.


Owen was so great in church this year! Our group took up an entire row of a pew, so he was able to travel back and forth between all of us through Mass, which kept him occupied. He loved going up to the front of church when the Christmas pageant / Nativity scene was performed. He sat so sweetly with his legs stretched out in front of him and his hands in his lap and watched intently while the story was told. 

We stayed until after communion when O wanted to go to our usual spot in church, the vestibule. we lasted a few minutes out there before deciding we should probably make an exit before things went south. I'm really hoping we will be able to stay the entire mass next year since one of my most favorite things about Christmas is hearing and singing along to Joy to the World at the end of Christmas Eve mass -- haven't heard it since O was born!


For dinner we kept it simple with a make your own Panini Bar. I love that this allows everyone to have what they want for dinner -- especially because we're trying to please around 20 hungry people ranging in ages 2 to 72+.

We had tri tip, chicken, bacon and salami, with a variety of cheeses, spreads and other things to make paninis. I labeled all the condiments and spreads this year because apparently two years ago, the last time we did this, some our nieces and nephews mistook the horseradish for mayo -- whoops! We also served two kinds of soup and a salad.

We started a new tradition last year of doing a White Elephant gift exchange in addition to the Secret Santa exchange we do with Keith's family. It's always a fun game (no tears or hurt feelings have resulted) and it's really fun seeing what each family come sup with. This year our gifts to give for the exchange were a giant red (yes, edible) gummy bear, an Elf nail polish variety pack and a roll of toilet paper with $10 in it.


Here's a cute little story of O during the gift exchange:

I didn't think he'd want to participate or know what was going on when we played the White Elephant game, so I didn't worry about him opening something like a coffee mug or bottle of wine for the exchange that he wouldn't like. So, when it came around for his turn to play he picked a box and opened it with serious excitement (probably hoping it was a car or dinosaur), and it turned out to be a Starbucks mug. Everyone cheered in hopes it would convince him his pick was a cool one, and it did for a moment, because he threw both hands in the air with a big smile and a little bounce like he'd won the grand prize of White Elephant gifts. Then it set in for a minute and he smiled and said, "Opps! I got the wrong one, guys!" with a shrug. I almost died from how sweet that boy is. What a love! I quickly grabbed a gift our neighbors had given him in hopes he'd be content with it instead, which he was. It all worked out in the end!

We ended up with a cool lantern flash light (for O) and a cute Starbucks mug + bottle of wine! After the gift exchanges we put O down to sleep Keith got busy putting his gifts from Santa together with the help of our nieces Jessica and Holly. I sat back and watched!


Christmas morning was a whirlwind of wrapping paper, batteries and toys galore! O was SO excited when he first came down the stairs and saw his gifts laid out. We let him take his time opening and enjoying his gifts, so it took most of the morning. We survived the morning on the Cinnamon Rolls I made and lots and lots of coffee!


After naps and some cleaning up we headed over to my Grandpa's house with my family to celebrate some more. I literally plucked O up from his nap and strapped him into his seat, and didn't even bother changing him out of his jammies. We were all exhausted by this point, but we rallied and had a great time!



I made these Tyler Florence Scalloped Potatoes to bring over and they were the best I've ever made. Mine usually turn out a bit watery, but these were fantastic!


O had a ball opening even MORE gifts and running around my Grandpa's house!

It was a lovely Christmas, and I'm sad it went by so quickly. This was such a fun age for celebrations and the wonderment of Christmas! Hope you all had a nice holiday with your families too!


December 27, 2014

Walking with Dinosaurs!

Last night we took O to see Walking with Dinosaurs at the SAP Center in San Jose!


As I'm sure I've mentioned before, O is a huge fan of dinosaurs. He loves playing with his toy dinosaurs inside and outside, and he can name a lot of them too! We knew that going to see Walking with Dinosaurs would be a HUGE treat for him -- and us!

I've been to the SAP Center (formerly HP Pavillion) dozens of times, and I've always been happy with how clean, safe and comfortable the space is. The dining options, though, in the surrounding area leave a lot to be desired. We were so happy to see that since we'd last been there they'd opened a Whole Foods close by, so we stopped there to get some dinner (and cash for parking!). If we were on our own we probably would have stopped into the Mission Creek Brew Co. that is located above too. Each of us was able to get some we liked, a burrito for Keith, sushi for me and chicken + veggies for O. After dinner we headed over to the center to pick up our tickets and find our seats.


We were so pleased to find our seats were in the second row! I was a little concerned before the show that O would be afraid being so close, but there was nothing scary. The dinosaurs roared pretty loudly when they battled, so we covered his ears, but otherwise it was totally fine.



The imagery in the show is unbelievable! It was almost impossible to capture how amazing it was to see these gigantic creatures walking around in front of us. They were huge!

The show started right on time at 7pm and lasted for about 2 hours, with a 20 minute intermission in the middle.


O especially loved watching the set change instantly during the show! I liked that the whole thing was narrated by a paleontologist (really an actor, of course) who explained the nature of each dinosaur and the geological periods in which they lived. There was even a little humor mixed in, which was cute.





O's absolute favorite part was the T-Rex at the end of the show! He had the biggest roar of them all!


We had such a fantastic time at the show and I would absolutely take O back to see it again! He's been requesting a return visit all morning, so we're watching the Walking with Dinosaurs to get our fill.

We were given tickets to see Walking with Dinosaurs at the SAP Center in exchange for sharing our experience here. All opinions are my own.

December 22, 2014

Weekending, before Christmas

The pressure is on! I've been feeling the need to jam in all the fun holiday stuff since we returned from our trip, and this weekend was seriously jam packed with lots of it.

Saturday was a crazy baking day for me. From the time I woke up until we left for our date that night I was either in the kitchen mixing, cleaning or baking.




I made a batch of the Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls to bring to a party, give out and for Christmas morning. The recipe is supposed to make seven pans, although mine only made 5 1/2. They taste delicious! I used egg nog in the frosting instead of milk, and I have to say I think that was a great, great decision.


Some time in the middle of the cinnamon bun madness, probably while I was waiting for the dough to rise, I decided it would be a good time to start a batch of sugar cookies. I've usually been baking the cookies one day during nap time, and frosting them the next day, but this time I did it all in one day. These have been my favorite so far!

That night Keith and I had a fun date night up in San Francisco. We got stuck in some awful traffic on the way from the freeway to the parking garage under Union Square. It took us an hour to get a couple miles, but that's just SF the weekend before Christmas.
We had a lovely dinner at Scala's (they were so nice to accommodate us even though we were an hour late for our reservation), and spent the rest of the night checking out the lights, the giant Williams-Sonoma and the Christmas decor at the St. Francis.


Sunday we went to a Christmas brunch at our friend's house. I love seeing everyone and their adorable kids during the holidays. The kids all played nicely together and the adults got to have a few mimosas + bloody marys.



I made little multi-colored crayons for the kids using a Christmas tree silicone baking mold.


These kids! I look at them and I can't believe how lucky we all are -- and that just about 6 years ago we were all kid free. What did we do before them?


I'm signing off now until after Christmas, so I just want to wish you all a beautiful holiday! Merry Christmas!

December 19, 2014

FIVE on FRIDAY: Christmas Things

With less than a week until Christmas now I'm trying to check off all the things we wanted to do this season off our list before we run out of time. We've gotten a lot done in the last week, here's what we've been up to...


ONE - We almost didn't get a picture with Santa this year. Long story short; it all went well and we got the smiling picture! We were thisclose to not getting one at all this year, because O had been telling us he did not want to meet Santa, and after his refusal to meet Mickey and Goofy in Disneyland, I thought he might be seriously. Luckily though, for all of, us he came around!


TWO - We decorated out gingerbread houses this year for the annual Sullivan family gingerbread house competition. O had SO much fun adding little bits of candy to the house. It was pretty much a one for him, one for the house kind of deal. He ate almost all the mini m&ms I put out for him to use!

Every year my MIL gives each family a gingerbread house and we all try to win her over with our designs to win "first prize" (although, everyone always wins!). In years past we've made fondant models of my MIL and her beloved lab, and this year we named our gingerbread house "Barbara's Sugar Shack".


THREE - Put together some simple, yet sweet hostess gifts for a couple Christmas parties we'll be attending in the next week. I used this recipe, added some mini red + green m&ms and a gift tag with the directions written on the back.


FOUR - I've been a cookie making crazy woman this week. Erinn has been showing off her beautiful cookies and pretty much convinced me I must give Alison's Cookie Party a try. I've always wanted to make gorgeous cookies, but I've never been able to nail down a great combo of recipes (for the dough and icing) or find any reliable or clear tips on icing the actual cookies. Cookie party is all those things and more! The picture above is my 2nd batch this week and it was a great improvement from the first -- and, I'm having so much fun doing it. I sent those beauties to work with Keith.


FIVE - Last night after dinner we took O to see the lights on Eucalytpus Street in San Carlos. It's becoming a tradition we all enjoy! O asked on the way back to the car after if there were any rides #hookedonDisneyland

This weekend will be a busy, but very fun one.... we've got a day with Granny tomorrow, 7 pans of cinnamon rolls waiting to be made, a date night planned, a Christmas party and a pedicure for this mom! Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

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