Prioritizing

I think motherhood is (among other things) one giant lesson in prioritizing.

clcreative_to-do

We are staring down the barrel of fall and I have no idea what happened to spring and summer.

Most of the past few months have been spent figuring out how to balance motherhood and work; just for funsies, we threw in buying a house and Dave changed jobs.

Phew.

The blog got knocked down a few slots on the ol’ priority list, but I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of things (cue The Boy switching up the routine…now).

I’m hoping to get back on track with this poor blog, because some of the other great things that happened this summer include many website launches and new projects hitting the interwebs, along with family milestones and thoughts on life in general that are worth preserving. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get around to posting the four blog posts that have been sitting in the drafts folder since as early as February. But probably not until we hang stuff on the walls of the house we’ve been in for a few months now.

Sigh.

Onward!


February 2017: Recap

I know, I know– it’s April and here I am posting about February. I’m totally playing the baby card on this one…

clcreative_4generations-carignan

Four generations

February was a big milestone month! Early on, The Boy began rolling over, getting himself to his belly from his back, which we were not expecting to have happen to soon! We saw early signs of this when we would check on him in his crib (another milestone— bye bye bassinet, hello crib!) and he would be on his side while swaddled up. That got our attention, so we did away with the swaddling at night, but man did we pay a sleep deprivation price. Gone were the nights of 4-5+ hour stints of sleep. February was all about waking every three hours and staying awake. The Boy would fight sleep so hard after eating; definitely not usual. Dave and I decided it was all part of his evil plan to lull us into a false sense of security.

I was lucky to get together with some of my other mom friends this month on different occasions. It’s been so nice to trade tips and realize we are all going through much of the same stuff.

February was also The Boy’s first plane ride and roadtrip!

I was a nervous wreck in the days leading up to the ride…praying he would behave on the plane and that his ears wouldn’t bother him too much. He ended up being a trooper the whole flight to New York, but it was when we got on the ground that all hell broke loose. Due to the time change and all the sleeping he’d done on the flight, he didn’t register our 11pm arrival as bedtime, instead opting for a painful 2:15am snooze session instead. Meanwhile, Mom hadn’t slept much on the flight because of her nerves, which led to the excessive use of eye-brightening makeup the next day. After a full day in New York, we packed up the car and roadtripped down to Maryland to visit more family and introduce The Boy to his great-grandma. Photos were taken, food was shared and overall merriment ensued.

clcreative_northport-harbor

Northport Harbor

Towards the end of the Maryland trip, I came down with a horrendous head cold and was paranoid I was going to pass it on to the baby (I’ve heard nothing short of horror stories about The First Cold). While we successfully avoid transmission, I do not recommend a long road trip with a 3-month old while under the weather. Towards the home stretch, he was unhappy, I was hurting and I’ve never seen Dave drive so fast in the last 40 minutes of a trip in my life. It was Nascar-worthy. But we lived to tell about it and went on to celebrate Dave’s birthday with lobster. I still owe him a cake since we weren’t home to bake one, but the lobster was certainly a nice way to mark another trip around the sun.

We spent a Saturday night hanging out with some of Dave’s closest friends and meeting their new babies. It was quite a sight, four childhood friends with all their kids now playing with one another. Truly, it was a perfect evening of pizza, kid chaos and catching up well into the night.

The Boy did all right on the flight home, too, but decided that was the perfect time to find his voice. He began “entertaining” those around us in the back of the plane with shrieks and squeals.

It was a whirlwind month and before we knew it, March had arrived and The Boy was four months old.


Save the Napa High Indians Mascot

The following is a letter I wrote to the Napa Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees, regarding the issue of my alma mater’s mascot, the Indian. I’m sharing it here, with the hope that more people affiliated with Napa High will voice their opinions on the subject, as it appears to me that the Board did not do their due diligence in seeking the community’s input on the subject.

Dear NVUSD Trustees,

I am writing to voice my displeasure with the method by which the Napa High Indians mascot issue has been handled. I was born and raised in Napa and am a proud member of the Napa High Indian family (Class of 2001).

It seems to me that such a hotly-contested topic such as this one warrants more community input and the Napa Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees has not sought such feedback. According to the NVUSD website, the “Board of Trustees is elected to represent all of the people of the school district. In making its decisions, the Board is guided by what is in the best interest of the entire district.” I believe the Board has failed to live up to this very important aspect of the job.

I also believe this failure can be rectified, starting by opening the discussion up to the community which the Board has been elected to serve, as opposed to conducting this analysis behind closed doors, disregarding the community input the Brown Act seeks to protect. However, a decision of this magnitude deserves more consideration than what an hour of open comments at a meeting can provide. I have grave concern that the Board has already made its decision and is simply “going through the motions” on April 6. I implore the Board to prove me wrong and give this issue the thoughtful consideration it deserves.

What I do not understand is why the Board has failed to enlist the help of the Mishewal-Wappo Tribal Council, who has been involved with the exact same issue at other area schools. Clearly, the Tribal Council is willing to educate interested parties on how to appropriately use the Indian mascot; they did so with Justin Siena (http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/justin-siena-works-with-wappo-tribe-to-create-braves-mascot/article_073277a2-6326-11e0-bc97-001cc4c03286.html) so it stands to reason that they would help the NVUSD as well. In fact, Scott Gabaldon, the tribal chairman, said he was “honored” to help when Justin Siena requested assistance and sees the use of the Indian mascot “as something honorable.”

Why is this course of action not being followed for Napa High’s mascot? I find it rather ironic that the Board of Education is avoiding an opportunity to educate themselves on the use of the Indian as a mascot and would hope that they choose to do so before they dismantle 120 years of proud history within the Napa community they are supposed to serve.

Sincerely,

Colleen LeMasters Natali
Napa High Indian, Class of 2001
Napa Resident


January 2017: Recap

clcreative-downtown-napa

The Riverfront in downtown Napa

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be better about blogging (isn’t it always?!) and taking that one step further, to do a recap of each month. When I did my look back at 2016, I realized how many smaller moments would happen each month and how I didn’t want those to get lost in the shuffle of the bigger moments, and monthly recaps were the perfect way to make sure that didn’t happen. Which is all a long way of saying, let’s take a look at January!

To kick off the month, The Boy turned 2 months old, right on New Years Day. We “celebrated” with a walk downtown for coffee for Mom and Dad. Not that we truly needed it because he is a pretty good sleeper, only waking up once or twice for a “midnight snack”, then immediately going right back down. Halfway through the month, on the eve of my 34th trip around the sun, he gifted me five consecutive hours of sleep and it was glorious. (He later teased us with a full eight hours…we freaked out when we woke up at 4:00am and realized he hadn’t woken us up!)

On my actual birthday, I received a card with the sweetest inscription from The Boy (with a little help from Dad) and it was the best birthday yet.

clcreative-birthday

Make a wish

My birthday was also celebrated with my favorite dinner, thanks to my mom and dad. My grandmother made my cake and it was the perfect way to greet 34.

It was also about this time that The Boy started teething. The copious amounts of drool gave it away. That, and he wants to find a way to have his whole fist in his mouth at once. No sign of any teeth yet (I was shocked he was even showing teething signs this early) but I just feel so badly for him. I can tell his teeth are shifting around and bother him even more in the evenings. We tried to establish a routine at night, since we read that helps comfort them, and so far it does seem to be working (until sleep regression hits, I’m sure). It’s also been nice to know that Dave and I have the teeniest amount of time in the evenings to catch up with one another (teeniest, because we’re usually not far behind The Boy when he goes to sleep).

Another New Year’s resolution was to start up Sunday dinners with my family. Actually, this has been on my bucket list for a long time, but we’re finding that now that we have a kid, we’re prioritizing things differently (go figure). It’s been a nice way to wind down the weekends and head into the work week.

clcreative-Luca-at-grammys

Playtime at Grammy’s house

Speaking of the work week, I headed back to work in January, with the help of my mom who watches The Boy for us. We’re grateful to have someone who loves him as much as we do looking after him and especially happy he gets some quality time with Grammy.

I’m also feeling very lucky to have hit the ground running in January. I wasn’t quite sure how this “maternity leave” was going to go down, since 1) it was self-managed and not regulated by state/federal laws and 2) I’m a company of one and basically had to shutter my doors for a bit. I really didn’t want to lose steam because I genuinely love what I do. So needless to say, I’m thrilled to get working on the new projects I have coming up and feel really fortunate that my clients stuck with me while on “leave.”

The whole month felt like it flew by, but in looking what’s on tap for February, that seems like it will be even busier. Here’s hoping I remember to slow down, take a breath and savor some of the little moments when they happen and hopefully, holding myself to these monthly recaps will remind me to do just that.


Twenty Sixteen

I know some might say 2016 was a rough year, but in the Natali household (no longer the LeMasters-Natali household because I finally got around to officially changing my name) it was one of the best, namely because this couple became a trio. Here’s a look at some of our best moments from the year:

January

Dave and I kicked off the New Year on Long Island and since I had never been to Montauk, we drove out to the lighthouse to walk around a bit. After doing my best Ansel Adams impression in the biting cold, we drove over to Channing Daughters Winery; a favorite of Dave’s, but I didn’t need my arm twisted for the visit, either!
January-2016_montauk

January-2016_channing-daughters

February

February put us on the baby theme that was 2016 for our family. This was the month we found out I was pregnant (!!) and we got ready to welcome my cousin’s first bundle of joy, Baby Poppy!
February-2016_Leigh-shower

March

For our wedding a few months before, a dear friend of our family gifted us a weekend at her beach house in Santa Cruz. Staying at her house is one of our favorite treats, so we were excited for the weekend away and loved the thoughtful setup she’d put together for us upon our arrival. It ended up raining most of the weekend, but that worked out just fine for us, because I was a little under the weather with faint signs of morning sickness. Curling up by the fireplace (we desperately wish we had one) was just what the doctor ordered!
March-2016_beach-01

March-2016_beach-02

We also celebrated the upcoming wedding of another of my cousins, with a bachelorette party of sorts, before she headed back to Italy where her fidanzato was waiting for her return. We enjoyed glasses of bubbles, a Mexican fiesta (I have it on good authority one cannot find good Mexican good in Italy) and an afternoon of pampering.
March-2016_Kela-bachelorette

April

April was the true kick off of baby season! Poppy arrived on April 6, while Dave and I made our baby news official and let the rest of the family in on our secret. We flew to New York for my mother-in-law’s birthday and excitedly handed her a card that read, “Happy Birthday Grandma!” on the front and she was over the moon, as were we.
Natali-party-of-three

Dave and I also got our garden on, getting the beds at my parents’ house ready for all the herbs and summer veggies. It’s become one of my favorite things to do in the spring and the bounty we get through the summer and fall isn’t too bad either!
April-2016_garden

May

We welcomed another sweet babe to our family in May with the arrival of my niece, Emily and I’m so happy the cousins are around the same age. Work-wise, I had been busy, launching websites and revealing the new logo for the Napa High Hall of Fame.

On the pregnancy front, I couldn’t get enough fruit. Pineapple, watermelon, strawberries…you name the fruit, I was all about it. Good thing the Farmer’s Market had opened and was filled with everything needed to satisfy my cravings.
Napa-Farmers-Market_strawberries

June

Halfway into 2016, I was also about halfway through the pregnancy!
pregnancy_22week_bump

July

With the summer in full swing, we celebrated 4th of July with fireworks and family.
July-2016_fourth

I also celebrated the launch of the Napa High Hall of Fame website.

August

August 1 was our one-year anniversary! We actually spent the weekend in Venice (California) with my brother and explored his new town and its food scene. They had a built-in designated driver in me, so needless to say, a good time was had!

We also celebrated the impending arrival of Baby Natali (now formally known as Luca Thomas!) at my aunt’s house. Luca and I were showered by all of our family and friends and Dave and I felt just how much our little baby was going to be loved by everyone around us.
August-2016_baby-shower

September

September was all about the baby prep! Harvest was also in full swing at this point, so I was spending my harvest-widow hours finishing up projects for work, in an effort to not leave anyone hanging, had Luca decided to arrive early (if I’d only known he’d be late!)
September-2016_baby-prep

October

By the time October rolled around, I was definitely ready for fall, with the 80+ degree days wearing on my pregnant self. We spent some days at the pool, and as we approached the 40-week mark, Luca kept us waiting…
40-week-bump_clcreative

November

The first day of November…one I’ll never forget! We welcomed Luca Thomas at 5:08pm on November 1, 2016. Truly the most amazing day after all that waiting. Did I ever mention that I had a gut feeling he would be born on the November 1? It’s true, but we were still nervous about having a baby on Halloween; luckily this little guy helped Mom and Dad out and arrived fashionably late. His arrival has truly been the best thing about 2016 and then some. Luca, I’ve been waiting for you my whole life. We hope you know how much Mom and Dad love you!
November-2016_Luca-Thomas

The month also brought lots of family dinners that included a crab feast and of course, Thanksgiving! We had Luca’s first Thanksgiving(s) with both sets of grandparents present and he was a trooper through both dinners (that’s code for “slept a lot so Mom and Dad got to eat”)!
November-2016_Thanksgiving

December

As we wound down 2016, we gave our oven a workout. I hosted a Christmas cookie baking party (Dave and I ate a lot of cookies), we tried out a new cinnamon roll recipe that claimed to rival Cinnabon (spoiler alert: it lived up to the hype) and I made a bunch of candy to send to the relatives on the East Coast.
December-2016_Christmas-cookies

We also spent our first Christmas as a family of three and I thoroughly enjoyed dressing Luca in all the adorable holiday clothes! I also broke out my good camera and am SO happy with the photos I got of Luca and his great grandparents!
December-2016_Christmas

#2016BestNine

2016BestNine_Colleen-LeMasters-Creative

I see a theme…

So thanks, 2016…for the gifts you’ve given us, the adventures we’ve been on and the memories made. We are leaving 2016 with full hearts and are ready to head into 2017!


Weekend Routine Before Baby

Edit: I wrote this Weekend Routine post while still pregnant and now that Luca is here, I will have to do a post to compare to our new reality. For now, here are some thoughts as if we were still a couple and not a family of three…

I was talking to my aunt a while back and she was telling me that, after raising four girls and getting them off to college, she doesn’t really remember what she and my uncle did on the weekends before having kids and thus, the inspiration for this blog post, in order to remember what our routine was.

We typically try to have one weekend day of activity and one of rest. It doesn’t always work out that way, but we try…

Friday night

(because let’s be honest; the weekend officially starts then!)

We usually hang at home and watch any Hulu shows we may have missed during the week. It’s not very exciting, but after a week of work, especially with all the driving Dave does, we prefer to just enjoy being in our house. Sometimes we’ll go out and grab dinner, so we don’t have to cook, but usually we bring it home. It’s not glamorous, but it’s comfortable. I also feel like there is a chance this could actually stay the same when the baby arrives. Maybe?

Saturday

Saturday tends to be our errand-running day. We usually have a slow morning, sleeping in as best we can, drinking coffee (sidenote: how I miss the coffee…I haven’t had any “leaded” coffee since being pregnant and not that I miss the caffeine, but I do miss the routine of sipping a cup in the mornings. It was comforting. The decaf lattes I sometimes grab on the go aren’t really the same since I’m out and about when I have them.)

Usually in the morning, we FaceTime with Dave’s parents in New York, around their lunchtime and check in with them. Afterwards, we get cleaned up and head out to run errands. They typically include, but are not limited to: Target, HomeGoods, grocery store, etc. If we didn’t eat out the night before or don’t have a ton of leftovers in the fridge, we may grab something for lunch while we’re out. On the off chance that we need to run errands out of town (i.e., Costco or something) we’ll try to do those first, but there is something about sleeping in and having a lazy morning that trumps all, so inevitably the out of town errands get a late start.

Saturday night dinners are usually a joint effort. We enjoy cooking together and I usually leave the weekends blank as far as the weekly meal plans go, so it opens it up for us to try something new together or do more in-depth recipes that are easier with two sets of hands in the kitchen.

Sunday

Sundays tend to be our day of rest. We attempt to sleep in and I’m much better at this than Dave. He is so used to getting up at 5:30 or 6 for work that it’s hard for him to sleep in when he has the chance. I’m not really an early morning person, as much as I would like to be, so dragging myself out of bed Monday-Friday is a lot harder for me. But Saturday and Sunday sleeping til 8? No problem. I will miss those days when Baby Natali arrives…

clcreative_weekend-breakfast

Fancy weekend breakfast

If Sunday is our day of rest (and not our errand day) I will often make something delicious for breakfast: pancakes, French toast, a Dutch baby…something that just takes more time than I would have during the week when cereal and oatmeal are on the menu. This usually means we aren’t terribly hungry for lunch, so we just hang and straighten up the house and get ready for the week. If the weather is cooperating (read: not a million degrees) Dave will make bread for sandwiches during the week. He makes a mean baguette and his whole wheat loaf isn’t too shabby, either. Sometimes, I will just hang out and scrapbook. Occasionally, our “day of rest” includes a family dinner, so we’ll get cleaned up much later in the afternoon and then eat with the family.

Truly, the weekend routines aren’t that exciting, so I’m hopeful not *too* much will change when the baby comes, but realistically, I know it might. I have a sneaky suspicion only one of us will run the errands while the other stays home with the baby, but maybe not. I also suspect that the errands won’t be as leisurely and the “hey, should we swing by Cost Plus since we’re in the neighborhood” questions may dwindle, as the kid dictates the schedule, but we’ll see. Eventually there will be kid activities on the weekends anyway…and those days of sleeping in til 8? Those are slowly approaching memory status, but we’ll happily trade all of it in when we become a party of three.


Website Launch | Wine Women & Shoes

This website launch is a bit of a two-for-one, in that this was the first WordPress Multisite install that I have launched for a client, which means multiple websites, all managed by one neat and tidy backend CMS. It makes my OCD very happy.

Originally, the ladies at Wine, Women & Shoes approached me about revamping their current site, but as we talked more about the needs of the project, it became clear that they needed a few sites (all with the same look/feel and bells and whistles) so it was the perfect opportunity to create one unique design for them, that could extend across all of their other websites and uses.

The result was a highly-customized site, that allows for all of their fundraising events to be showcased, while also extending the functionality to their other websites, including Farm to Tableaux, and the websites they created as resource guides for their clients.

Selfishly, this project was really fun for me, as it allowed me to stretch my custom code abilities (check out the fun nav-scroll effect) to make sure the client had all their needs met. I created code for custom events layouts and was also able to utilize different domains for each site, where necessary, which was something new for me.

Check out the results below:
wine-women-shoes_clcreative-site

Wine, Women & Shoes

Visit site

farm-to-tableaux_clcreative-site

Farm to Tableaux

Visit site


And Then There Were Three

Last month, we were just Colleen and Dave…this month, we are also Mom and Dad.

Luca Thomas Natali made his debut on November 1 and quickly stole our hearts. We have spent the last five days looking at Luca in wonder, amazed our hearts haven’t just burst from the amount of love we already have for him.

With sunshine pouring in our family room, Dave and I with our coffee and Luca snuggled up with us, it felt like Christmas morning.

We brought him home from the hospital on Thursday in the late afternoon and made it through our first night. There wasn’t much sleep, but not because of Luca; mostly because Mom couldn’t stop watching him, to make sure he was still breathing (spoiler alert: he was fine). There were hours of cuddles and the feelings on our first morning as a family of three is something I won’t ever forget. With sunshine pouring in our family room, Dave and I with our coffee and Luca snuggled up with us, it felt like Christmas morning.

I can’t get over his full head of dark hair and how long he is (21 inches, to be exact!) and how much he looks like his daddy!!! At any given time, at least one of his cute little hands is by his cheek, escaping from the swaddling blanket; when he is sleeping, he prefers to use it as a “headrest” of sorts, which has us cracking up. And when his eyes stare back at us as we hold him in our arms, we can’t get over the fact that he is ours.

Thank you all for the kind and congratulatory notes and calls. We appreciate them so much and are so grateful for the outpouring of love.

luca-thomas-natali

Luca Thomas Natali, born 11/01/2016