Destination: Palm Springs, California

December 25, 2016 (Christmas Day )

Found myself on the road on Christmas Day for the very first time in my 30 years of existence. Christmas day was always spent at home and it always seemed like a perfect day to take breather from all of the Christmas hustle and bustle, it was just family tradition for both sides but this year we decided to break the norm and do something different. We accepted a complimentary stay at Palm Springs, the younger Mendezonas (and when I say younger I mean the unmarried ones— Javi, Dino, Pilica, Mikel and Anya) had to leave in the wee hours of the morning to check in, I guess they’re kinda staying there for two nights. The rest of us including abu had a convoy to Palm Springs as soon as we were all ready.

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Since we were all hungry, Elmer’s was our first food stop. There was a 30-40 minute wait so we ended up playing with the kids up front.

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Me and My mini-me in our coats in Palm Springs. Yes, it was kinda cool.

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Our family on Christmas Day, waiting for our food to be served.

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Teo’s pretty excited about the shake.

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And this little one was just on the floor in her Christmas suit, picking up crayons, without a care in the world.

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Cassie’s pancake. is this a bear or a mouse?

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My cutie patootie

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Merry Christmas from my family to yours. 😀 Checking in the hotel in awhile.

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Once we were all settled in mami, Pilica, Anya and I left to go buy bathing suits since we all forgot to bring ours. We completely forgot that it was Christmas Day and most of the stores were closed, we found ourselves in Walgreens buying groceries and drink for our over night stay. After dinner we had family game time—Charades and Munchkin.

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Checked out just in time for lunch, we ended up eating in Sammy G’s Tuscan Grill. The name personally didn’t sound so inviting but it supposedly had good ratings and everyone at that point just wanted to settle down.

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It was Christmas Candyland at the reception area.

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The inside of the restaurant just felt warm and inviting, very apt for Christmas and they were playing classic Christmas songs as well.

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The family enjoying our appetizer—Calamari (except for little Cassie I guess, look at that face, haha)

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Loved the intricate wood carving on the pillars within the restaurant

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Cassie, Ninong Dingz and Baba posing with the snowman

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Explored the strip after lunch

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These palm trees are intriguing

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The girls (missing Pauline, Abu and yaya Diday)

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Twinning with this one for the millionth time

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If you find yourself in Palm Springs, Great Shakes is a MUST visit and a big stress on the “must. It’s said to have one of the best shakes in the whole world

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And you’ll see a bunch of this around the store just validating that claim. You can even check yelp or google this place, ratings are excellent.

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Here’s my cranky baby…

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Here’s my no-longer cranky baby thanks to Great Shakes’ shakes. Haha. I’m telling you they don’t disappoint

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And lastly a family photo of us three before we leave this place. Of course we took it at a random parking lot but its okay, at least you still see some palm trees in the picture. Haha.

Again, Merry Christmas one and all.

~Rhea

My Little Game-Changer

I started blogging a few years back not for anything else but to destress— destress from work, destress from my family, destress from my Long Distance Relationship, destress in general. All kinds and all sorts. So I blogged; I blogged about my family, I blogged about my little adventures/travels here and there, I blogged about Marco and I blogged about what I liked to wear, and that made me feel good. I don’t know why but it just did. The Social Tumbleweed was what it was, it was a semi-online journal where I could just log in whenever I felt like it and write about the most random things in my life.

Since Cassie, things have been a bit more different, I barely have time to sleep let alone blog and another thing that bothered me was losing all that pregnancy weight. I didn’t like doing #OOTDs because most of the clothes that I normally wear didn’t fit me yet and I refused to buy anything bigger. Well, its been a year and a month since Cassie and I’m slowly finding a way to my “new norm” , life with a baby. I’ve lost my pregnancy weight but I still have that little pouch in my belly that I need to work on, I still enjoy clothes but I’ve realized that I enjoy dressing up Cassie as much as I enjoy dressing up myself, maybe even more.

So here it is, probably my first decent OOTD since I had Cassie.

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(JUMPSUIT:Black; Material Girl/ JACKET: thrifted denim band jacket; Plato’s Closet/ BEANIE: Gray knitted; Wet Seal/ SOCKS: gray slouched knee high socks; Wet Seal/ SHOES: Olive military boot wedges, Charlotte Russe)

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I’ve slowly started fitting back to my old clothes hence today’s OOTD but I think the main reason why I’m posting one today is because I’m discreetly twinning with Cassie. Did I ever mention that I like to match my baby A LOT? Haha. I’ll probably keep doing that until she’s old enough to tell me to stop. 😀

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(BEANIE: gifted, part of a set/ SWEATER: knitted band jacket; Baby Gap/ DRESS: thrifted/ SHOES: black high cut boots; Teeny Toes from Payless)

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Today, I am blogging because I think yesterday’s events deserve an entry. Two CRAZY things happened:

ONE– Cassie pooped in her potty for the 1st time (Yay!) I was about to bathe her in the bathtub when I saw her make her “poopie face” and so I grabbed her quickly and had her sit in her potty. Ta-da. Out came the poop. Proud mom here. After I cleaned her up I bathed her, I turned my back for a millisecond to wash the soap of my hands and as soon as I was about to pick her up I saw it…two little poopies floating in the bath tub and she was playing with it.I guess she wasn’t done pooping when I cleaned her up. I freaked out a bit, screamed for my husband to help me and then proceed to bathe her AGAIN and I got over it.

TWO– It was lunch and I was feeding Cassie rice and sausage, I know she’s supposed to sit down in her high chair the entire duration of the meal but she kept whining wanting to go down and I just didn’t want to deal with it after the morning incident so I let her walk around. One of my sisters fed our house dog, Todd, some of her rice scraps earlier and Cassie somehow managed to find her way to Todd’s bowl and rummaged through it. I found her with rice in her hand and she was chewing. Now I honestly don’t know if she was still chewing the rice I gave her or if she placed some of that “dirty rice” in her mouth so of course I freaked out again. Yes, I felt like I won “The Worst Mother of the Year” award  for that day and I decided that I couldn’t handle anymore so I took a break and told Marco he had to take over.

Today, we’re making up for yesterday’s events, we heard mass and had brunch at Black Walnut Cafe with Cassie’s Ninang Gela and Unclie Pierre from Florida. Here’s what my baby and I look like when I’m not making her swim with poop or making her eat dog scraps. I’m kidding.

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How it is most of the time, mommy chasing Cassie. 😀

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This is my own version of motherhood, it’s far from perfect and full of crazy, disgusting, frustrating accidents that I welcome whole heartedly (as long as I learn from them and most importantly as long as they don’t hurt Cassie). Still loving every single moment of it.

~Rhea

Cassie Turns One: Cassie and the Chocolate Factory

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The things we do for Cassie, Marco and I DIY-ed our version of the Wonka Factory Gates. In hindsight, we probably could have made this more sturdy but we didn’t foresee the wind that afternoon.

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We filled Cassie’s dessert table with assorted sweets—gum balls, chocolates, candies, cookies, anything and everything colorful. Of course we could not have a Wonka-themed party without actual Wonka candies.

Below are more detailed photos of the dessert table, my favorite part of the party.

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Marco and I tried to go in theme in our floral tops, purple coats and black top hats.

Trivia: Marco is wearing his old Joker costume that I recycled by sewing on a floral cloth to pass as Willy Wonka’s vest.

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Cassie’s Wonka Themed cake from My Dulce Cake, a local Houston cake shop that has been getting good reviews and has been featured in the Knot, Ruffled and the Food Network. Y’all should check them out!

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And this would have to be one of the best gifts ever…..thanks so much to the Quirays especially Marie for this labor of love, you are extremely talented (y’all should check her Etsy store). This completed Cassie’s dessert table and made it more perfect than ever!

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I even DIY-ed some Wonka Bars although none of them had the golden ticket. I’m actually glad I found some Wonka Bar wrapper printables online, I wrapped the Hershey’s bar with foil and wrapped the printables around it once done. It would’ve been easier if the Hershey’s bar had its old packaging.

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Rico’s neighborhood-famous French Macaroons, of course I had him Wonkafy them by coloring it purple. They were the first to go.

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Ninang Pauline’s contribution to the party, homemade Cookies and Cream Cake pops that was

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Framed some Wonka sayings from the movie and used some of them as part of the table centerpiece.

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This will have to do for “lickable wallpaper”, they’re edible and they’re on the wall. Haha.

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Last minute chocolate fondue, thanks to the Babas’ and the Vera’s for lending me your fondue machines even if we asked last minute.

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Fizzy Lifting Drink station

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Tried to take a photo before we could finish setting up the food table. Marco cooked Lengua, Chicken Anette (I honestly don’t know if I’m spelling that right) and made Cheeseball dip—they were all a hit. And we ordered Spaghetti, Barbecue and Egg rolls and the Almacens brought us Pancit (you guys are the best! thanks geng). The Wonka Bar Mocha Cake, which we used for her cake smash

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Cassie’s giveaways.

For Adults, I recycled her old baby food jars by painting the covers purple and sterilizing the actual jars. I then made my own personal template to wrap around the jars that included a picture of an Oompa Loompa and a chocolate bar. For the sizing of the printable, I randomly searched a water bottle template and pretty much just worked on it by editing the design. I filled up the jars with a mixture of Whoppers and M&Ms combined. I then made a small version of the Golden Ticket as her “Thank You” labels and attached them around the jars.

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For Kids, I used thesame picture of the Oompa Loompa but printed out bigger versions of them, cut them out and pasted them on purple gift bags that I bought from the dollar store. I printed out bigger versions of the Golden Ticket Thank You labels and pasted them on the gift bags as well. And since I was trying to go for certain look where it seemed like the Oompa Loompas were holding the Golden Ticket, I had to look for printable hands (or white gloves rather) online. It’s a good thing I thought about Mickey Mouse’s hands looking similar to the Oompa Loompas’ white-gloved-hands, so I just googled “Mickey Mouse hand” and it was a breeze from there. So yeah…those are Mickey Mouse hands. Haha.

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What was inside the goody bags: Shades that we passed off as Wonka goggles, Colorful bouncy ball that we passed off as an everlasting gobstopper, a bunch of wonka candies and a bunch of non-wonka candies.

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And my artist sister, Angelie (the one who painted Cassie’s tree in our room) pulled through and did an all nighter to finish the giant-sized Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Characters that we displayed in the hallway downstairs. Now it sits in the game room upstairs with the Wonka contract where the guests signed.

Below is a closer look at the characters. Colored Construction paper, colored pencils, pencil, scissors, glue and shading skills and voila…she wasn’t too happy with the outcome but artists are usually their own worst critic. Cassie and I loved it langga, thanks again for doing this.

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Veruca Salt

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Mike Teavee

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Augustus Gloop

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Violet Beauregard

Images were copied from the free online printables of Activity Village.co.uk . Printed some of these for the older kids to color as well.

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Here’s the Wonka contract image that I enlarged and stuck to a cartolina to serve as her guest book. Thank you Walgreens for being so efficient!

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I also made a snapchat filter in theme with Cassie’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Party. Of course I had to cater to my millennial siblings’ generation, haha.

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This little girl did not want to wear the birthday romper we got her. She probably found the tulle too itchy, its a good thing we got her this candyland tutu as back up.

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Daddy Marco as Willy Wonka holding my DIY Wonka Hat pull-a-string piñata.

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We had a bunch of younger kids as guests so I opted to make a pull-a-string piñata rather than the piñata that you whacked with stick.

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….And Olivia (or Mommy Ann rather pulled out the lucky string)

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Thanks to all the guests who made it to Cassie’s First Birthday. I wish we took photos with every single one of you guys but the crazy birthday schedule didn’t permit it. Thank you for showing our little girl much love on her birthday celebration.

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IVL would have to win Best Costume. She came in as an Oompa Loompa on point!

For Cassie’s photobooth, I just used the altar area close to my parents room and used the purple table cloth as a background. I enlarged some of the photos and printed them in color, stuck them to hard cardboard, cut them out then stuck some art craft sticks on them to make photobooth props.

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I transferred Cassie’s toys from upstairs and made a small play area in the living room for them to play in since most of her guests were infants. For the older kids, Marco and I rented a bouncy house and placed it in the backyard.

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Whew, we survived my Mr. Willy Wonka!

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Printed out Cassie’s monthly milestone photos to display in the cake smash area. The colorful candy themed balloons and the large purple #1 balloon were all ordered through Amazon. (my ever reliable favorite)

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We did Cassie’s smash cake with just us, family. It was a call I made a few days before her birthday celebration, I knew she was going to be a bit overwhelmed with all the activities and all the people in the party.

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And we opened gifts on her actual birthday just because we wanted her to do something special on her actual day. We would like to thank everyone who made it to her birthday celebration, thank you for your presence and your presents. Haha. And thank you to all those family members and friends who showed her love even across the miles by sending her gifts and most importantly prayers. And lastly thanks to all those who contributed and helped out to make this birthday celebration possible, Cassie probably won’t remember any of these but hopefully a few years from now she’ll see these photos and realize for people to go through all that trouble to throw her a birthday she won’t even remember, she must be really loved. We love you Cassie!

~Mommy Rhea

Of Texas and Teepees

This fascination of wanting to sleep in a teepee has been around for awhile especially since  it first came out on Groupon a few months back. The only thing with these deals is that they have a time period and even at a steal I didn’t want to purchase the Groupon until I could find someone to come with me, Marco and Cassie. The deal ended and I wasn’t able to convince my family or even friends to go, a constant struggle for people who live in the US—finding a “common” vacation schedule for everyone in the party even if it’s just a day, besides the Groupon was date specific so we couldn’t just randomly purchase it and use it anytime in the future.

A few months later, we finally found a family who wanted to make the trip with us—Charles, Ann and Olivia, it was like a family date! We were just going to pick a date when everyone was free and still push through without the Groupon. Well what do you know, as soon as I got a “go” signal from the Garcias to book for specific date they were free, Groupon brought back the deal and we ended up making the reservations at a discounted rate. God’s on our side, yep..this trip was meant to happen.

Reservation on the Guadalupe is one of Best Texas Travel ‘s unique vacation properties and it literally did not disappoint. I mean really people visit the place because they want to try and sleep in some place “different”, or probably because it “looks cool” vacationing in a teepee or whatever reason they may have. And I’m not going to lie, I looked at the photos before booking, it looked amazing and I was aesthetically drawn to the place. This is one time where aesthetics surpassed comfort and I didn’t mind but you know what, the place was comfortable anyway and I felt at home. It kinda gave me that “province-feel”, at night it was pitch black and early morning it was calm and serene, it literally felt like I woke up in my Daddy Pakong’s bukid.

I can go into detail about their amenities but I’ll let you check out the links so you could see for yourself. The place sleeps 6; it has 3 queen beds and a kitchenette with pots, pans, stove, grill and all utensils to use during your stay. Parking is limited to two per teepee but arrangements can easily be made with management. The best part is checking in and checking out— everything was done electronically, they send you a link to their app and you have to download it, that app will contain all the instructions, map, directions, digital codes for access to the teepee, the rest room and the tree house. (YES, digital meaning no KEYS!).

BOTTOM LINE is this place was an amazing breather for all of us and it DEFINITELY was worth the drive. ( It was a 3-hour drive from Missouri City, TX where we live, just in case you were wondering). I can keep going but I’ll let the photos speak for itself.

Day 1

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Here’s a picture of our teepee, Teepee #8, Rising Moon, with no filter.

We arrived an hour early before check in time so we decided to check out the common area first since we already had the codes for treehouse anyway. I know it has its cons but it felt pretty good not having to go through a front desk to check in.

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What’s across—other teepees and the treehouse, a common area for the guests.

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There’s an indoor dining area, as well as outdoors but it was too hot to stay outside.

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And a very comfortable living/ game area. I forgot to take pictures of the pingpong table downstairs.

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Similar outfits again. Mommy bought fringe moccasins to match Cassie’s.

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Daddy’s little love.

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The view of the area from the tree house.

Finally got to check our place out at 3pm, 30 minutes before the actual check in time and this little baby approves. We settled down while waiting for the Garcias to get there.

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When the Garcias arrived, of course we checked out the tree house and took our fill of outfit photos. Thank God for stage moms who can relate. Haha.

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We then checked out their direct access to the river, how convenient for tubing season.

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Found an old wooden bench swing by the river

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The Ramas-Mendezonas

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The Almacen-Garcias

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We spent the rest of the afternoon outdoors, the mommies played with the babies while the daddies took care of dinner, grilling.

By the time dinner was ready, it was dark so we headed up to the tree house instead of eating outside to avoid the bugs and enjoy dinner indoors in the comforts of “civilization” a.k.a A/C. haha.

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Thanks for dinner boys, you guys are the best.

Day 2

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Good Morning, New Braunfels. It was a cool, misty morning, like waking up in the bukid.

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Baby Shennanigans

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My little boho baby and her little boho outfit. Her little feather head dress c/o mommy of course. #PipandTumbleweed

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One last family picture with our teepee before leaving.

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Yay for camera timers and making group photos possible.

Look at Cassie and Olivia having a private conversation. Awww…

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The Garcias knew of a perfect place to have lunch before heading back to Houston but first, the outlet mall at San Marcos. It was hard to resist especially since it was on our way home.

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It was hard not to take a stroll after lunch especially when you find yourself in old Luling, Texas. Thank you for the lunch treat Garcias! It was a first for us to have barbecue at City Market and you’re right, they aren’t pricey and are one of the best.

This overnight trip was definitely a much needed R&R for all of us. Texas, you continue to surprise me with your hidden vineyards and unheard of teepees. Which part of Texas are we off to next? Can’t wait for my next family adventure.

~Rhea

 

 

 

Local Vineyards, Quiet Birthdays

Local vineyards— who would have thought decent ones existed here in Texas especially since we’re known to have shady weather forecasts especially in our area, imagine experiencing all four seasons in one day. I know there are hundreds here in the US but for some reason when you say “US vineyards”, the first thing that comes to my mind is Napa Valley. I know its very small-town of me to think that way but its the truth.

And I’m not going to lie by saying that I did consider making a trip to Napa Valley, California for this year’s birthday trip (Haha, Marco didn’t even know) but as parents we do have to prioritize our children (especially since Cassie is celebrating her 1st birthday next month) so we came to a compromise by going to a vineyard that’s apparently a 45-minute drive from where we live. Wow, not bad at all.

The expectations weren’t high just because Texas isn’t really known for its wine but I’d have to say Marco and I were both impressed with Haak Winery and Vineyards. I’m glad Groupon brought back its $21 Haak Winery promo, wine tasting, vineyard tour and $20 deli credit for two people, it was definitely worth it and more.

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Driving to the vineyard was no trouble at all. From where we live, we literally just drove down highway 6 going to the Galveston area and turned right and just like that we reached our destination.

We called them in advance to ask if we could bring Cassie and they said they take pride in making their place family friendly and baby-friendly so we were able to take our stroller in and yes, they did have ramps.

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Once you walk in, you’ll find yourself in the deli/ souvenir area and at the very end of the room is the reception/ receiving desk.

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Vineyards wouldn’t be vineyards if they didn’t have any of these wine barrels-turned-to-deli-tables.

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This is what it looked like once you walked out of that room going towards the cellar and the actual vineyard.

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Daddy and Cassie posing right before our tour guide took us down to their cellar.

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Cream of the crop, all locked down in a special area.

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Spot the patron saint of the winery, they say you have to rub his tummy for good luck.

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Barrels and barrels of the good stuff.

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Starting them young…haha, don’t worry Cassie stuck to her milk when we did the wine tasting.

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These things have wine that can fill up hundreds if not thousands of wine bottles

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More wine machinery behind the scenes.

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The part that we were all waiting for—wine tasting.

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 We get to try 5 different ones including the Madeira that they’re known for.

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My mister insisted he take a picture of me.

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I thought he’d wear his usual shorts, shirt and sneakers but he tidied up, not bad Mr. Mendezona.

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Parenting 101. Wine tasting.

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Cassie tried to entertain herself. Awww good job baby!

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Family picture on our family date.

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We headed out again after the wine tasting to explore the vineyard by ourselves and take some pictures.

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A beautiful day for a visit to the vineyard, Thank you Lord for clear skies.

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I’m glad  that this little one is having so much fun as well.

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Stage mom in action.

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My little angel soaking up Mr. Sun.

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Daddy about to swing Cassie around.

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Mandatory vineyard solo 😀

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Who says you can’t take babies to a vineyard and have fun? I don’t know about y’all but this bunch did.

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Here’s my Cassie’s OOTD for our trip to the vineyard. She’s growing up too fast…

~Rhea