Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I thought I would just give you the minutes of our day:
7:oo pm bath, massage, bed
5:00 am Eat
8:00 am Wake/Play (independent play time)
9:30 am Sleep ( Screams for usually 1 hour then goes to sleep)
10:30 am Wake / Play w/ mommy (songs/exercise/books)
11:00 am Eat
11:30 am Stroller (run errands)
2:00 pm Eat
2:30 pm Rocking chair w/ mommy (songs/ stories)
3-5 pm Walk in Bjorn/stroller (anything to keep little bits happy/maybe a nappy or two)
5:00 pm Eat
6:00 pm DADDY'S HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
7:00 Bath, Massage, Eat, Sleep

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Strauss Family Vacation

TheStrausses.com just returned back to the Chi from an amazing vacation to Napa Valley and Lake Tahoe in California with my family. Below are some details about the trip and some pictures. My brother Lee took 99.99% of all the pictures because he's got talent. Here are all the pictures and then my mom's pictures.

Saturday, August 11, 2007
Our flight from Chicago O’Hare to San Francisco was scheduled to leave at 8:00am CT. Both Kelly and I were both a bit anxious about the 4 hour flight so we didn’t sleep too soundly. Everything was packed up but the amount of gear we had was impressive. We had 6 pieces of luggage to get to the airport: 1) my suitcase 2) Kelly’s suitcase 3) Ashley’s suitcase full of clothing and toys 4) the diaper bag 5) a pack-and-play which is a portable crib 6) my electronics bag.

The flight went surprisingly well. Ashley started to get a bit fussy so I put her in the Bjorn and walked around the plane until she fell asleep. Luckily, Kelly was able to get some rest and watch a movie.

The flight arrived around 10:30am PT and by the time we picked up our luggage and hulled it over to Enterprise, we were on the road to Napa Valley by 12:00pm PT.

After a few stops along the way, we finally arrived into the crowded town of Napa by around 3:00pm PT. By this time, Ashley had enough of the car seat and was letting both Kelly and I know. We needed to find a place to stop immediately and agreed that we would stop at the next winery. Lucky for us, the next stop was V. Sattui Winery.

V. Sattui was a beautiful place. In the midst of the incredibly dry land of Napa, was a perfectly manicured green lawn dotted with big trees to provide shade for picnics. It was a great spot for little Miss Ashley to stretch out and roll around until my brothers and parents arrived into town. Their flight from Cleveland arrived an hour later than ours so we intended to meet up somewhere in Napa. They finally arrived around 4:00pm PT.

Here is a picture of Ashley getting spooked when my family arrived:

After a bit of socializing and some wine, we all left and headed to the house we had rented for 2 days. It was located here. The house was simply amazing. It was nestled in the middle of vineyards and mountains.

Here is a picture of the house in Napa:

Since Ashley lives in the Central Time Zone, Kelly and I tried very hard to keep her on her schedule even though we were 2 hours behind. We have learned that it is a constant struggle to keep babies on a schedule or else you can run into some BAD days. So, we have put Ashley to bed at her same time which is 7:30pm CT or 5:30pm PT. It seems awfully early when doing it but it’s something that we had to do. Unfortunately, this means no late dinners out. Thankfully we have amazing parents and brothers so we opted for cooking out instead of going out for dinner. For the first cookout, we had steaks, corn on the cob and salmon for the 2 vegetarians.

Exhausted from the long day, we went to bed super early.

Sunday, August 12, 2007
Sunday we spent the majority of the day in wineries. Not a bad day!

We started out at the Silverado Winery. They had a beautiful patio with a great view that overlooked the vineyards. We were able to sample 4 of their wines.

Here is a picture from the patio at the Silverado Winery:

We then visited the Rubicon Estate Winery. This place was top notch. They had a valet service in front of a beautiful trellis covered stairway. The wine here was ridiculous. Definitely the best we had the entire trip.

Here is the entrance to the Rubicon Estate Winery:

The last winery of the day was recommended from my cousin Craig Joseph who just finished a year in Sacramento. The winery was the Arger Martucci Winery. I have to say that CJ was spot on with his suggestion. Vince Martucci lead us in a tour of their winery and allowed us to taste some of the wine straight from their barrels. They were fantastic and the wine was incredible. I highly suggest it.

That evening my mom cooked some portabella mushroom pizzas with potatoes. Tasty.

My brother found the Wii video game system in Cleveland so he purchased me one and brought it with him on the trip. That evening after dinner, we played the Wii with my family. It is such a fun system and intrigues such a different demographic than your standard video game system.

Monday, August 13, 2007
The next morning Lee, Kelly, Ashley and I left Napa Valley at 7:30am PT to start the drive to Lake Tahoe. We left early so that the 3 hour drive would take place during Ashley’s nap time.

We arrived into Tahoe around noonish and had some lunch. My parents, Mark and AK arrived later in the afternoon and we meet them at the house we rented. It was located here.

Here is a picture of the view from our deck:

The rest of the afternoon we played in the crystal clear but freezing cold water.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Tuesday morning Mark, my dad and myself drove down to rent a jet ski and 2 kayaks. While they were getting the jet ski ready, the owner told us to look up into the tree right by the dock. About 25 feet up were 2 baby black bear cubs and their momma bear. I guess the town is having a big issue this year with bears knocking down doors and raiding refrigerators. It was sad to see them so unaware of us but at the same time cool to see.

My dad took the jet ski and Mark and I took the kayaks. The owner said it would be no more than a 30 minute paddle to our rented house but man, I’m not sure what kind of paddling he’s doing. It took us a LONG time. A few times we tried to hang on to the side of the jet ski but that really didn’t work. The paddle was so long that my armpits were raw by the end of it.

Once we arrived back to the house, we played on the jet ski and kayaks. We found a boogie board and a ski rope and towed each other on the lake. It actually worked out pretty well.

Here is a picture of Kelly and I on the jet ski:

That evening we attempted to go out to dinner at 5:30pm PT to a restaurant called the Wolfdales. Keep in mind this was smack dab in the middle of her bed time in Chicago but we had to give it a try. We made it to right when dinner was served and Ashley had enough. We literally wolfed down our food and took her home to bed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Wednesday morning we rode the jet ski a few times and then packed the kayaks into the minivan to be returned. I enjoy a good challenge and workout but I wasn’t about to make that paddle again. Both the jet ski and kayaks needed to be returned by 9:00am PT so Kelly and I rode the jet ski back while Lee and my dad drove the kayaks back.

Later that morning, my dad, mom, Kelly and I rented some bikes to ride up and down the river. I rented one of those trailers for kids and we put Ashley inside. It was her first bike ride! Tahoe has a great trail system which goes through town and then up and down the river.

Here is the most adorable picture of Kelly and Ashley:

After the ride we stopped at a restaurant on the river for lunch. It was a great setup and we enjoyed the beautiful weather.

Thursday, August 16, 2007
It took our family a bit longer than normal to get moving this morning. We drove about 30 minutes outside of Tahoe City to a place called Emerald Bay for a hike. We hiked 1.7 miles down into the bay, read all about the history of a few houses there and then walked back up to our car.

Here is a picture of the trail down to Emerald Bay:

Here is a picture of us at the base of Emerald Bay:

Later in the afternoon, we went to Chambers Beach and had one of the signature Chambers punch drinks. It was a bit overrated but still pretty tasty.

Friday, August 17, 2007
On Friday, we rented a boat w/ a wakeboard and a tube. We tooled around a bit on the lake and found some calm waters for wakeboarding. This is no easy task with the amount of wind on this lake. However, it’s easier in the morning when the wind is minimal.

Here is a picture of the beautiful wakeboarding conditions:

Saturday, August 18, 2007
Here are some thoughts about Saturday from Kelly:

"Ashley went to her first Art festival. She browsed paintings from the local artists. The highlight for her were all of the doggies. That of which she is scared of.

In the late afternoon we hit up the Squaw Valley Brew and Jazz festival. Daddy was in heaven. He loves beer and music. He then left mommy to fend for herself. After drinking all afternoon, Daddy made sure to hit up the casino."

That cracked me up. We did go to Squaw Valley and had a great time. We were able to see Karl Denson up close and personal.

Here is the man Karl Denson:

That night we packed to go home.

Sunday, August 19, 2007
We traveled all day long. We left Tahoe at 6:00am PT and ended up in Chicago by 7:00pm CT.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

First Steelers Game

I can't believe it's football season already! The Steelers are playing the Saints right now in a scrimmage game at the Hall of Fame. Both my dad and brother are there so I'm jealously watching from the confines of my couch. 2nd play of the game, Roethlisberger 55 yard bomb to Wilson. It's going to be a good season.

This is officially Ashley's first time seeing the Steelers on TV. It is a memorable day. I told her all about how much of a fan she is and she replied back with "gah". I'm pretty sure that meant "you're damn right daddy. go get my jersey and put it on me and let me wave that terrible towel of yours.".