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!
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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!
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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!
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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.
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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!
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July

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

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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…

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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:
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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.

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Luca Thomas Natali, born 11/01/2016


Pregnancy: 40 weeks

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40 weeks official

I was officially 40 weeks yesterday, which means my due date was October 20. Not October 24, as we had originally thought. Funny story: the ultrasound tech had told us October 24, and that was the last date we heard, so we went with it. My doctor always operated in weeks, so I just assumed they lined up. Come to find out, they didn’t…not that four days is a huge difference, but still.

We are anxious to meet this little guy or girl, but I continue to think s/he will be late (which is technically true now, on account of the whole October 20 due date). S/he is still moving a lot, and I thought these babies tend to slow their role as they get closer to making their escape (as Dave calls it), so if that is any indication, I’ve got time. That said, I’m ready for anything. I haven’t hit that point that many women seem to talk about— that point where they are just ready to be done, like “get this kid out NOW,” which is another reason I think the kid will be late. Certainly I will be hitting that point soon, right?

A few things on how this whole pregnancy has been:

  • Eggs have been in heavy meal rotation during this whole pregnancy, which I find fascinating, because I usually don’t really like eggs. They’re fine, I guess, just not my favorite. But frequently from the second trimester on, I’ll eat eggs for breakfast (I’ve perfected the breakfast sandwich, people. I’m so excited about this) and sometimes can’t fight the craving for egg salad or deviled eggs later on. I suppose this is good, since you know, protein and all that.
  • The heartburn has not gotten any better since 20 weeks. Some nights I wake up, certain that I am a fire-breathing dragon with the capability of scorching the sheets. I have no clue what sets it off, as some foods get me, but when I have them again, I’m fine. I’ve tried narrowing it down to spicy foods, tomato sauce, chocolate or anything else, but there is no scientific explanation; nothing can be pinpointed as always being the culprit. Very weird to me.
  • I’m still drinking approximately three liters of water a day, which I have been trying to do from Day 1. They say you need to drink a ton of water, so I feel like I can tick that box off my pregnancy to-do list, but I originally started because my skin was completely dried out. I was fortunate that I didn’t really get the mask of pregnancy on my face, but rather the crook of my arms. Random. Either way, I tried to flush it out with water and it’s pretty much been the only beverage I’ve had, aside from some milk. I’m so bored with water that I’ve taken to adding a splash of juice, just to add some flavor. I’m a champion watered-back orange juice and cran-grape juice drinker. Just as I hit the 39-40 Week mark, I’ve seen some improvements in my skin being better, but that is not before all the water and my nightstand looking like the lotion aisle of a CVS.
  • Speaking of water…Since about Week 36, my feet have looked like giant, puffy old lady feet. I’ve been drinking so much water throughout the whole pregnancy, that the doctor wasn’t even surprised by their size. It’s super attractive and I just love that only my flip-flops fit (she says, sarcastically). It would be borderline impressive if, by the end of the day, they didn’t feel like they were going to explode off the ends of my ankles (which I assume are still there, somewhere…).
  • In related aches-and-pains news, my hips don’t lie…they ache. Usually at night, since I’m officially limited to sleeping on a side. Usually the left, on account of the aforementioned heartburn, but I wake up in the night and have to roll over because I can tell I’ve been putting all my (extra) weight on one hip for too long. I usually sleep with a pillow between my legs, but it doesn’t seem to do that much, unfortunately.
  • I had really wanted to have a handful of frozen dinners ready to go in the freezer, and do all of thing pre-baby things that Pinterest articles constantly suggest, but I haven’t really been in the mood to do that. Prepared and Planner Me is really disappointed and wants to heed the mental calls to action that scream “there’s still time! Do it today!” but then I feel like sitting with my feet up instead, or scrapbooking, or doing other random things that don’t necessarily need to be done, but seem like a better use of my time (they’re not). If anyone has easy freezer meal recipes, feel free to send my way and hopefully I will get inspired…but I’m not making any promises.
  • Along those lines, I don’t actually feel like I ever got into a “nesting” stage. Weird? I don’t know if it is because we’re not creating a dedicated nursery, per se, or what, but I don’t feel like I’ve nested. I feel like I took a more “all business” approach, which I hate, because it seems so cold-sounding. Functional, but not very warm-and-fuzzy. Our guest room is a semi-nursery, but the bed still takes up quite a bit of space (with nowhere else for it to go), so we opted to put the crib and a bassinet in our room, which seems logical for the first six months or so anyway. The guest room/nursery does have a dresser with all the (freshly-washed) baby clothes, diapers and definitely serves as storage for extra baby “things” like blankets, toys, etc. But most of the baby gear is scattered throughout the house. Logically, it all makes sense to me: the pack-n-play is in the family room, for napping during the day, since the crib and bassinet are in our room ready for nighttime feedings, but it all seems more functional (great, yes) but not “nesting” in the sense that I originally thought it would be. Maybe function over fuzzy is a form of nesting? Who knows. I guess I just think of nesting as setting up a room and decorating it just so, but we didn’t do that— we went with function instead, which also makes sense to me, but doesn’t feel like a traditional “nesting period.” Chalk that one up to unexpected things you realize about pregnancy, I guess.
  • We still don’t have boy names nailed down. We’re 100% confident in our pool of girls names (I say pool, because the plan is to see the baby, then figure out which name best suits him or her) but boy names? Still a little ways to go on that, as far as I’m concerned. Dave thinks we have a decent pool, but I’m not so sure. Stay tuned on this, as eventually we’ll need to come to a consensus, right? Are you even allowed to leave the hospital with a child referred to as “the baby to be named later”?? Sigh.

For now, we just sight tight…and wait. (Which is awesome for me, on account of how I’m just so patient…I can almost hear Dave laugh from the winery in Kenwood as I write that.) The doctor says I definitely won’t be pregnant beyond November 3, as that is the two-week mark from my due date and, assuming I make it to my next appointment on October 26, we’ll start planning an induction, so it’s definitely getting real.


Gimme all the rain

Fair warning, this post is entirely mundane

raindrops It rained yesterday (for about a millisecond) and it is currently misting and gray and I love it.

We have had nothing but sunshine and 80+ degree days for the longest time and I have to admit: I’m over it. It’s a terrible thing to say; to complain about sunshine and what one would typically consider glorious weather, but I miss seasons. I didn’t grow up with distinct seasons like a New Englander or anything, but a little change would do me right, right about now. I’m usually a warm-weather person, but even this is a bit much for me.

Sadly, the weather is supposed to heat back up later this week (hello 80+ again) but I haven’t gotten a chance to do all of my “fall” things that I want to do. Like bake. Or scrapbook (rainy days are ideal for this). Or wear a sweater…and not flip flops (though currently, that’s about all my pregnancy feet fit into).

On Instagram, everyone is posting about their PSL (blech), their Hunter rain boots and chunky knit sweaters. Meanwhile, I’m over here, line-drying the bathing suit I just crammed into for a heat-relief trip to the pool and rotating my two sleeveless maternity tops with pairs of shorts.

Sigh.

I’m ready to see some changing leaves and feel crisp air. I’m ready to not need my air conditioner anymore (both in the car or the house). I’m ready for chilly-weather foods, like soups and casseroles.

I’m over you, cold salads for dinner, you hear me!?

Is anyone else with me??


Website Launch | Bragg Vineyards

I have been waiting to share the launch of the Bragg Vineyards site and I’m so excited to see it live! I’m loving the way the design turned out!

Bragg Vineyards is a small (only about 125 cases annually) cabernet sauvignon producer in Calistoga and needed to get an online store up and running, in addition to refreshing the core website. Looking for something clean, with an upscale feel that was worthy of the small-lot wines, I was inspired by the new bottle shots we had done (thanks Megan!) and got to work on designing and coding a website that would properly showcase these two vineyard designate wines.

We also got his store launched and I can’t tell you how much professional bottle shots (or professional photography in general) can make your website leap off the screen. Photos can really enhance the look and feel of a site and I was fortunate to not only have the new bottle shots, but also some great images that owner/winemaker Bob Bragg had taken himself. It really does make all the difference.

Because Bragg Vineyards would like to manage their website in-house, we of course opted for a WordPress platform for both the core site and the online store. This also allowed the client to create the new copy he wanted and get familiar with the CMS while updating the content himself.

IMHO, the screen grab image doesn’t quite do it justice, so I’d definitely recommend visiting the website itself to get the complete vibe of the website, so head on over and take a look at the latest design!

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Website Launch | Napa High Athletic Hall of Fame

This website launch of the redesigned site was a long time coming. I created the original (and first) Napa High Hall of Fame website back in 2005, I think? So you can see how overdue it was.

We needed a better way to search members, find info about the scholarship program, and just plain update the look and feel. 2016 marks the 20th year of the Foundation’s efforts to recognize the achievements of Napa High athletes (which was the motivation for the new logo we created) and a perfect time to update the website.

The old site, while it served our purpose, just didn’t do the Foundation justice, but the new site is like a breath of fresh air in comparison. And not for nothing, but the code geek in me had a field day with this one. I set up a special back end on the website for inputting new members, their bios, head shots, sports in which they participated…all the “meat and potatoes” of what got them into the HOF, so it was a fun coding project for me, as well. So happy with the results!

For reference, take a look at the dark, old site and then the fresh, new one below:
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