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Fall Bucket List

Tomorrow marks the start of my very favorite season, Fall! Maybe it's because I'm an October baby, but I just love all things Fall (so basic, I know)! This year it really snuck up on me. Now that we're in our new routine with the kids at school, time somehow moves even faster. A friend was asking about the calendar so we could plan our annual holiday traditions, and it seemed so far away, but September is already whizzing by in the blink of an eye! Hopefully even with busy schedules, we'll find time to squeeze in all our favorite Fall activities and traditions. 

Go to a Pumpkin Patch / Of course, what would fall be without a visit to the pumpkin patch! I always loved doing this as a kid around my birthday. We'll likely go to a couple, since a few destinations on this list also have a pumpkin patch. 

Visit Apple Hill / Such a classic Fall destination we're so lucky to live close to. It's always quite the circus on the weekend, and now that the kids are in school I'm not sure we can do a weekday visit. Perhaps I'll pick up Graham and the twins early one day and we can hope they nap in the car on the drive there. The ultimate fall destination with apple cider donuts, apple cider, you pick flower bouquets, breweries, wineries, pumpkin patches, and apple picking! 

Host our annual Pumpkin Carving Party / Our tradition the past several years is to host friends for a pumpkin carving party! So far, the Dad's seem to be the most involved in the actual carving but it's so fun to get together and celebrate the season. I usually make a fun, spooky treat too! 

Larson Family Winery Harvest / Another favorite tradition! We joined this winery wayyyy back when I was still living in the fog, but we've kept our membership and love to visit. We originally joined because it was close to the city and dog friendly, and now we stay because it's kid friendly and affordable and good wine. They do several events throughout the year we try to attend, but the Harvest and Santa brunch are a must!

Neighborhood Halloween Parade / The best surprise of our neighborhood was finding out it has an adorable Halloween parade every year for the kids. The first year we invited some friends last minute, then last year made it more of an event. It's a blast, all the kids are so cute in their costumes. Now we've gotten to know some neighbors too! So I'm sure it's going to be so fun. It also happens to fall on my birthday this year!

Trick or Treat / The neighborhood adjacent to ours is BIG for trick or treating. People drive over and park to walk around the festive houses. Graham has had the BEST time the past couple years and I know that brothers are going to love it this year too! 

Go to the Farmers market / I love a fall farmers market! I've been wanting to go to the Folsom or Sacramento market so that will be a fun morning activity one weekend we're home and don't have early soccer. 

Pick Apples / Perhaps on our visit to Apple Hill we'll be able to pick some apples. Or we can visit The Orchard in Auburn. But if all else fails, we can go pick some at Mimi & Papa's house (unless the bears get them first)!

Decorate for Halloween / We love to decorate for the holidays at our house. I've always loved pumpkins and fall decor, but since becoming a Mom I've really leaded into Halloween. It's so fun! Graham has been asking for weeks so we told him this weekend! 

Fall Front Porch / I love lining the porch with pumpkins, grasses & mums! I can't wait to have our front looking so cozy and festive for the autumn season! With a little spooky twist until Halloween of course! 

Bake a Fall Treat / bake something yummy and seasonal with the boys. Maybe some pumpkin scones, pumpkin pancakes, apple pie, or apple bread. I also though caramel apples could be really fun! Anyone have a delicious recipe they want to share? 

Fall crafts / I love doing crafts with the boys, and I've been pinning fun fall and halloween theme projects for us to work on. I also bought a couple kits from Target because they're always a hit too, and so easy! 

Decorate Sugar Cookies / Decorating sugar cookies at Christmas is a Magliozzi tradition, and I've selfishly taken it a bit further, expanding to most holidays because it's just so fun!  

Fall Floral Arrangement / this one is more for me than the family. But I love getting a few various flowers from Trader Joes and making my own arrangements. 

Read a cozy Fall Book / Carly shared a fall read on her Bucket List postThe City Baker's Guide to Country Living and described it as the "perfect" fall book. So I think that will be the one I read! I can use my new kindle that Andrew got me for our 8th wedding anniversary. 

Watch my favorite Fall Movies / Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic will always be favorites, but I've been dying to watch You've Got Mail too. Why don't they make movies like they used to? Does it make me officially old for saying that?

This probably isn't the most realistic bucket list, but being my favorite season, there are just so many activities I want to squeeze in! I like this list because it's a few things for me and a few things for the whole family to do together! Lucky for me, Graham is as obsessed with all things fall as I am, so he will love checking things off the list as much as I do. We already have big plans for getting the house decorated this weekend. 

What's on your fall bucket list?


Foothill Highlights - North Fork Chai


I thought sharing my love for where we live and all our favorite places would be a fun new series for the blog! Some of the highlights of foothill living, so we're calling it Foothill Highlights. If some clever person has a better name please tell me, this was the best I could do for now. 

What better place to start then one of our family's most favorite places, North Fork Chai! We've been going for years, I'm not sure anyone loves their scones more than Graham. They started selling Chai back in 2018 locally at the farmers market and local events, then in April 2019 they opened their cafe in Newcastle. I'm sure my parents are who told us about it, but once we tasted their scones we were hooked! We come more often than we probably should! It's become a place we go as a family for special weekend treats, birthdays, a quick stop on our way to cut down Christmas trees, you name it! 

As you might guess from the name, Chai is their specialty. It's phenomenal! My Aunt has it shipped to Oregon on subscription. And I was standing in line behind a woman last weekend who was buying a case to drive to her daughter out of state. When I tell you this place is incredible, believe me! 

Although I rave about the scones, their breakfast sandwich is the actual BEST breakfast sandwich you'll ever have. (For those around during my foggy years, Devils Teeth in the Sunset of San Francisco is a close 2nd place)! The best way to order it is to add bacon, avocado, mixed greens, pepper jack cheese, and the chipotle sauce. There are a few sauces, cheese, and greens options. But that combo is, chefs kiss! 

Although I rarely stray from my scone and breakfast sandwich order, they do have several other options on the menu. The avocado toast is delicious on their homemade bread. They also have quiche and breakfast burritos on the weekend. Sometimes they even have cinnamon rolls! But if it's your first visit, my favorite menu items are a dirty chai latte, scone, and a breakfast sandwich. 

They've recently started a great Monday Market where they have a fixed dinner menu and local vendors set up for people to shop. We haven't made it to one yet, but I'll be sure to feature that as another Local Highlight when we do! You can follow along on their Instagram for menu updates, usually the Friday before.

Another great thing they offer are classes! Most are cooking or baking,  but they have a spoon carving one too. I definitely want to sign up for one of the scone making, or other cooking classes soon. This is one of the reasons I love North Fork so much, they really value community and try to foster it by providing things like their classes, a place to work, a gathering place for people to share coffee and a meal, hosting markets for local vendors, etc.  

For those of you who aren't local, fear not! You can order their amazing chai to be shipped. And if you're semi local and heading to North Lake Tahoe, you'll drive right by it. The perfect place to stop on your way to or from the mountains for a little treat! 

I hope you enjoyed the first Foothills Highlight and will stick around to learn about more of our favorite places.  


Disneyland with Graham

I know it's almost 6 months ago now, but last spring, we decided on a whim that we should take Graham to Disneyland. A short two weeks later, we had childcare lined up for brothers and were on an airplane! I've always loved Disneyland and was lucky enough to go several times with my family growing up and into adulthood. It's always been a favorite for the O'Brien family, Andrew on the other hand has very mild feelings about it. Crowds are not his favorite. But, we had been twice together and I was hoping my affection had started to wear off on him, and now bringing his first born he was bound to fall in love with the place! 

With Graham starting Kindergarten, we realized it was a great time to take him before being bound to the school calendar. Plus, it was a special trip for just the three of us. He was SO excited when we told him, and I think a little in disbelief. 

We flew down on a Sunday afternoon and met up with Andrew's Mom (Gamma), Uncle and cousins at a brewery for dinner before checking into our hotel. It was so nice Gamma drove up from Carlsbad to pick us up at the airport and spend some time together. Uncle Jay has always been a favorite of Graham's, and he brought his vintage Star Wars Lego figurines for him! After a little family time and dinner we headed back to the hotel to get settled and go to bed for a big day the following day. 

We stayed just a quick walk from the park which was ideal. And although Graham hasn't been in a stroller in years, we brought the old single jogger for him and it was a game changer. He was able to rest and we could move around the park quickly. We saw characters right as we entered which was both exciting and overwhelming. A lot to take in for your first visit! We decided to head towards Pirates of the Caribbean for our first ride. In my mind it was a nice calm ride to ease Graham into things, plus he likes pirates! However it turned out to be a little scary for him. He still said he wanted to go on The Haunted Mansion next, which again, was MUCH scarier than I remembered since becoming a Mom. I think Graham had his eyes closed most of the time, but the did great! Next we thought it was best to head over to Fairy Tale town for a little bit, and went for a ride on Dumbo! We lucked out that morning and even though it was Memorial Day, it wasn't too crowded at all. 

Part of what drove the timing for our trip was due to the fact Splash Mountain is being redone, and I wanted to go on it one last time for nostalgia sake. Somehow, even after starting the day with two scary rides, Graham was ready for Splash Mountain after some time on the mellow rides (we may have failed to mention the big drop at the end)! We all got fairly wet, but Andrew got SOAKED. Graham was a great sport about and we eventually dried off. 

I was so impressed with Graham's bravery riding the bigger rides, especially because he is a bit timid. After Thunder Mountain he said it was a little too scary for him, but he said it with a smile. Now he talks about how when we go back to Disneyland, he's going to ride everything! 

Graham is already so excited to go back, and often asks about it. We can't wait to go with brothers and hopefully bring along Mimi, Papa, Gamma and Auntie to make it a family affair. 

2023 Summer Highlights

Where did summer go? Somehow we've made it a month into the school year already. It was a big year for us, transitioning from Graham in daycare and a nanny for the twins, to a big Kindergartner and the twins are off to preschool out of the house! We're settling into our new routines and everyone is happy, what more could you want?

Before we get too far into the busy fall season, I wanted to share the highlights from our summer. It came and went so quickly, as life seems to go as our kids get older. Looking back, we squeezed in a lot of fun and made so many awesome memories! 

The big kick off to summer was a special trip to Disneyland with just Mom, Dad & Graham over Memorial Day. We wanted to celebrate the milestone of turning 5 and heading off to Kindergarten. It was such a special trip that deserves it's own post but here are some highlights. 

Graham was a trooper, went got to the park and right away went on Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion. I had amped him up for Splash Mountain since it was being redone and I wanted one last time for nostalgia sake, so that is where we headed next. After all the excitement, we went to Fairytale town for a few slower paced rides. Dumbo and It's a Small World were a HUGE hit. Even though he was almost 5, we brought a stroller which was key. He was able to make it through the long days because he could rest in the stroller as we hopped around the park. With two days he managed to ride all our favorites including Space Mountain just before we left. I was so impressed! We had the best time and he continues to talk about it and can't wait to go back with brothers. 

Preschool Graduation marked the official start of summer. I can't believe how quickly the years went. My little baby is not so little anymore, he's such a sweet and fun big kid now! He learned so much at preschool and is ready for Kindergarten. 

Our big trip of the summer was Lake Tahoe with friends. This is our 2nd annual summer trip with our close friends. We had 8 adults and 8 kids in a house for 6 days, it was both chaotic and magical. The house was perfect, right on the lake with a private beach area, grass to play on, and plenty of space. The moms managed so sneak off to brunch one day, and the Dads had an activity day (golf and bike rides), but mostly we just enjoyed the house and our time together. We're already scheming up our location for next year. It has always been my dream to do a lake house trip with friends, and it's so fun that we've created this tradition together. I'm so thankful for our group of friends and the kiddos growing up like cousins. 

This year we had a mellow 4th of Jul. Another year with no fireworks, I think it will be a few more years before the kids can manage to stay up that late. We started the day at the Auburn Parade which was a fun and festive activity for the kids. We went home for the twins' naptime, then headed back to our friends for a BBQ. 

Another summer highlight was my cousins wedding! Sadly, we had just gotten over the stomach flu, so both Andrew and my Mom had to miss since they hadn't quite recovered yet. But my Dad was my date and I had a great evening celebrating my cousin and spending time with our family. 

Jack & Charlie go their 1st haircuts! They look so grown up now! These two years have just flown by, they're getting to such a fun age. 

Sometimes it feels like we're always at home, but when I look back at photos it's easy to see we have a lot of fun here too. We even managed a few trips to the lake on bikes to cool off in the afternoon. 

July is a big month here in our family with all three boys' birthdays! We celebrated Graham with a party for friends at the splash pad. Everyone had a great time, he felt so special and loved all the attention and playing with friends. For brothers we had a mellow brunch with family here at the house. So many new toys and so much cake! 

The last two years I have loved that we resurrected one of my favorite childhood traditions, Playgroup Campout! We grew up going to Donner with our "Playgroup" every year and camping for a weekend. We weren't able to get enough campsites at Donner this year so we went out to Prosser Lake. Even though we had to bring in water, the campground was great and we had all our sites close together. It's fun to see all the kids running around together as the 2nd generation of Playgroup. The original parents come to visit and play with their grandkids, and we manage to throw together a pretty epic potluck every year too. Graham had a blast and I know as the years go on these kids will all form such close bonds. I have so enjoyed reconnecting with everyone now that we're adults and have kids of our own. 

How could I recap the summer without mentioning Taylor Swift. My college roommate so generously invited me to join her for the most memorable concert I'll probably ever attend. It was purely magical! From the moment she invited me I was consumed with Taylor, planning outfits, getting friendship bracelets to trade, and relishing in the anticipation. The concert exceeded all expectations if that is possible, we had the best time. I'll never forget it! 

Our annual family trip to Tuolumne Meadows was a bit different this year, but just as wonderful. With the heavy snow this winter, the park opened late and campgrounds weren't ready/didn't have hosts. Usually my parents go up early to get us a site, but we were worried it may be difficult this year. My Dad's friend has a cabin in Mammoth that we were offered, so we decided to stay there and spend one day in Tuolumne doing our favorite hike, but the other day we could hike outside Mammoth. It was also easier because the twins would sleep better, we could pack less, and eat some meals out to make planning easier. We had a great few days and enjoyed all the time together. Of course, Tuolumne and hiking Lembert dome was the highlight. After our hike, we did a little meadow walk, drove out to Olmstead Point, and Graham got to learn about being a Junior Park Ranger. It was a great day! We also loved our hike at Convict Lake and our evening walks from the house. So special having all that time with Mimi and Papa every year! 

Before we knew it, it was time for the school year! It didn't take us long to realize how busy we'd be now with school activities and soccer starting for Graham. So far we are loving Grahams school and his special multi-age program classroom. His teachers are wonderful and he's been earning a green slip reward for helping or being kind almost every day! And Jack and Charlie are loving preschool as well. The first week was rough with a lot of tears at drop off, but now they are excited to go and love their teachers. It's been an adjustment for Andrew and I not having them at home, but it's also a lot easier to be productive at work with the house so quiet. 

I'm so excited for the school year and season ahead, I hope you'll join me for more regular blog posts sharing all the aspects of our life.

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