How Dan + I Have Date Night At Home

To be honest, Dan and I have never really celebrated Valentines Day. Mostly because it falls right between both of our birthdays. We tend to go out to dinner at least once every two-three weeks, most of the time Mila joins us. Though you know when couples say “Everyday is Valentines Day” I believe there to be some truth behind that. I’m the type that needs LOVE often and when the going gets a little hard I thrive off enjoying chocolate or ice cream (and wine) with my husband on the couch after a long day. We celebrate our relationship daily I think in our own little ways. So when February 14th rolls around we don’t feel the need or pressure to over do anything. Maybe because we are parents and are tired a lot of the time? Are we lazy? Haha! 

One thing we have mastered is a date night at home. Dan and I started date nights at home back when we were in college together as a way to save money. I’d always make us dinner in my tiny apartment and Dan would always bring chocolate or a pack of Oreos. (The Oreos, his mom sent him from time to time and we’d always be so excited when she did! Thanks Kathleen) We’d somehow turn our ordinary surroundings into romantic ones and have ourselves a great night alone. 

Now a days it looks quite similar! The only real changes are; Netflix, the baby monitor near by and couple extra dollars to splurge on a nicer wine. I think it is important to actually go out for date night, of course! But to be honest those are far and few between. What we can do is make a few nights a month extra special by having a ‘Date Night At Home’. 

Here are some ways we create date night at home (+ a yummy marinade recipe you can use for dinners not just for date nights, but the whole family will love it!)

-We always plan a few days in advance. We set a date so we have something to look forward to. When it comes to that specific day, I get more excited than I normally would to finish up the day and be home with Dan. 

-Mila goes to bed at 7:30pm every night. This is something that we have been working on since she was around 8 months. It is routine now and come 7:30pm we can all REST! For a date night at home we feed Mila dinner and hold out till after she goes to bed to enjoy our dinner, alone. If your little ones don’t go to bed till later and you don’t want to wait to eat try doing; a fun dessert, making a cocktail together or a mocktail, going through a travel book together or anything that is hands on. I think with a date night at home it is more exciting to be hands on with each other before you lounge around and chit chat etc.  

-Earlier in the day I’ll prep dinner and be sure to make it a simple one where I can do most of it ahead of time. This way once our kid goes to bed, it takes 30 minutes or less to finish cooking. Whatever it is you are making, try to prep as much as possible before hand. So when it is time to ‘date night’ everything is ready to rock. 

-Typically I make dinner while Dan plays with Mila. But on date nights at home Dan joins me in the kitchen. We drink a little wine and talk while putting together our dinner. It ends up being a nice switch and we can actually do all of it with out Mila wanting in on the action. This tip is just re-iterating the importance of doing something together like cooking, making a drink etc. Whatever it is, I think it is helpful to be hands on with something together. It increases conversation and I always learn something about my husband haha! Once we put together a puzzle and I realized then that we'd actually make a pretty good pair on The Amazing Race! 

-Now, to make things more special I always light some candles. We also have a record player and while we cook we have it on low in the background. I try and wear something other than my normal yoga pants or sweats. And NO I am not talking about cooking in lingerie. I’d just try and wear a little something different. A cute PJ set, a silk night gown? Anything that would be out of the ordinary and that you feel comfortable in. Something to get you both excited ;)

-Once dinner is ready we enjoy it together. We tend to talk about anything and honestly we catch up on a lot with what is happening at work or with our family. I know many try and not talk work or kids during a date. But honestly that is so hard for us. We love what we do for a living and we love our family and extended family too much to make those off topic. I think if you don’t make rules on what you can talk about, things just flow naturally. I sometimes ask Dan questions like “Do you remember when we …” “Where do you want to travel to next?” or anything that comes to mind to help keep our conservation fun and insightful. 

-Of course after dinner there is always some type of dessert. Dan loves homemade brownies with Butterfingers smashed in and I love any kind of ice cream. I always plan something different for dessert that we can enjoy. Try buying ice cream sandwiches or a small carton of fancy gelato!

-And since I keep it real, we typically watch a movie on Netflix or catch up on a reality show we love (like The Challenge or Amazing Race). I'll save you the intimate details ;) but being intimate in the bedroom is always a PLUS and much needed.  

-The thing to keep in mind here is to plan ahead. Try to make things a little extra exciting with a fun dinner, drink, a little on the sexier side clothing, low music, candles. Don’t do anything that doesn’t seem natural, other wise you both will feel weird. Keep it light and try to remember why you fell in love. Also, I know a lot of couples love to be spontaneous ... which is great! But for Dan and I being spontaneous isn't something that comes natural on the regular. Don't feel bad for planning ahead to spend quality time with your partner! Life is nutty with work, children and other things. Planning for a date night at home and making it special in your own way is a life saver!

Happy Date Night At Home Friends! Let me know how it goes.

Photos by Lily Ro Photography 


How Running 13.1 Miles Truly Feels

Well, as I sit here trying to think of words to re-cap last weekend my brain gets a bit lost. Last weekend, if you missed my posts on Instagram, I ran a 1/2 marathon and I lived to tell the tale! To be transparent I’ve been training for this beast for just a few short months and I never really felt nervous about the run until I hit mile 7. I was in good spirits and felt positive. Plus, I ran the Run Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon! It was my first trip to Walt Disney World! I was just beside myself the entire time, crying at every turn when I saw something new. I could feel my body tense up with excitement walking down the Magic Kingdoms Main Street and seeing the Animal Kingdoms Tree of Life. It all was so overwhelmingly awesome. I’d have to say the only thing that was awful was not having my children with me to experience it. However, we are already planning a trip back with Mila in tow. I can not wait!!

Running never used to be my thing, as much as I wanted it to be. I had always tried to get to that point of “needing” to go for a run. I thrive more so on group exercise classes like spin or dance and I love weight training with my husband (who is a personal trainer). I’ve run 5k’s before but never any more miles than that. Though when the option of running a 1/2 marathon presented itself I jumped at the chance, mostly to see if I could really do it. Turns out I can, not to entirely well, but I finished the race! Ever since arriving back home I’ve been hell bent on running another and decreasing my race time. So, the addiction has started so to speak and though I can’t wrap my head around it much … I guess you could say I am a runner. But if you told that to me just even 6 months ago I would have laughed and said “No Way!”

The truth is running is mostly mental, as in all in your head. Yes conditioning, endurance etc. all matter. But it really comes down to how strong you are in your head. Those positive thoughts really do work. It is hard for me to think of anything more inspiring than my own children when I run. I like to think of them right beside me, I imagine the wind blowing through Ryan’s red curls and Mila’s crinkle nose smile. I know it might sound weird, but that is what does it for me. I know people must think of the most random of things while running. My friend Jenna told me during the race when I was starting to fade, “Dedicate each mile to someone or something.” That was especially inspiring because then I started to run for things like my marriage, my own personal motherhood, my family as a whole, those thoughts kept me moving forward. Running for things that mean the world to me and drawing strength from them helped immensely. It also made me cry through out the race. Which, I think I might have been the only one bawling during the race? Who knows.

The one thing that was the most difficult was trying hard to think/push past the pain. Come mile 7 (mile 7 was hell) my knees started to ache and the pain only got worse as the race went on. I had to stop and walk a few times which embarrassed me at first, but I came to piece with it. I think at some point you really have to listen to your body, though running is mental there is pain that can’t be ignored. My knees were pretty much shot after the race. I had to ice for three days after race day and they still feel a bit sore. I learned about IT Bands and how running too many miles can cause them pain haha! My husband says I need to do more squats and other exercises to strengthen my knees. So, I’ll be working on that and training more efficiently moving forward. I also know so many of you mentioned to get fitted for running shoes, which I’m kicking myself for never doing. You live and you learn. Or you run 13.1 miles and learn.

I will say the best part of the whole trip was crossing that finish line and holy crap did I cry! I wasn’t even looking at Dan, I had my eyes fixed on the lady who was putting the medals onto people. I immediately had a flood of emotions and the second she put that medal around my neck I gave her a giant hug and cried on her shoulder. Then I found Dan and kept crying. People were asking me if I needed water, a banana, Dan was trying to take my photo. I was a hot mess, numb with excitement and pride.

To recap - The weekend at Walt Disney World was insanely awesome. The 1/2 marathon was incredibly hard, but also the most rewarding thing. I’ll definitely be doing it again and I’m excited to continue to train for a better race time. I couldn’t have gotten through it with out my children and husband. For they are ones who have built me into the person I am and give me the strength daily to achieve my goals. Thank you SO much for following along on Instagram and for all your well wishes before and after the race! You guys are the best and I look forward to sharing with you my next race!

Here I am crossing the finish line. I honestly can't tell you why I was so emotional. Maybe because I actually finished? Maybe because of how badly my knees hurt? Maybe it was the thought of my children and missing them so badly, wishing I could have seen them both there at the finish line? Maybe I'm just an emotional mess? ;)

Here I am crossing the finish line. I honestly can't tell you why I was so emotional. Maybe because I actually finished? Maybe because of how badly my knees hurt? Maybe it was the thought of my children and missing them so badly, wishing I could have seen them both there at the finish line? Maybe I'm just an emotional mess? ;)

Dan posted this to his Instagram stories and I thought it was so funny! My eyes are so happy and SOOO tired. I'm in so much pain here, and yet so damn happy!

Dan posted this to his Instagram stories and I thought it was so funny! My eyes are so happy and SOOO tired. I'm in so much pain here, and yet so damn happy!

A Lazy + Reminiscent Weekend

There is something quite delicious about a weekend away with old friends. The stories and fun memories re-told are pure nostalgia. Plus, with the added bonus of our children toddling around things seemed to be a bit surreal. Like, wait. It feels like we just graduated college. We are still kids and now we have kids?! I'm such a fan of looking back at life. I tend to over think things of course. Though, going through my past gives me the emotional jollies. If I look deep enough, I can see God's plan hard at work. His directions and paths I set out on have taken me to where I am today. All the bad, tragic and downright greatness swirled together to make up my life thus far. I'm breathlessly grateful.

This past weekend we met up with college friends to

A. meet their new baby.

B. to traipse around our college campus.

We've actually been planning this trip for a few months now and though it seems we frequent Northern California often ... visiting where we went to college hasn't happened ever! This was our first time back since graduation! Our first time back since I snagged a kiss from Dan before snagging my diploma. I love that memory. While waiting to head out for the ceremony most of us were loud and obnoxious. Hanging with friends and cheering each other on. I found Dan and gave him a quick kiss before jumping in line with the other students graduating with my major.

We walked in and out of our old lecture halls. Jealously crept in when we walked into the new student union. So many memories flooded my brain, a few tears fell. I'd love to experience that time of my life again. Working at the Copy Corner, showing up late to class and concerned only about sorority happenings. It was a pretty stressful time with trying to graduate in four years, plus trying to figure out who you were and what you wanted to with your life. (Nothing followed the plan I made, except of course Dan ;) Though stressful, I only really remember the laughs and abundance of fun! Walking around the campus we kept saying things like "Remember when ..." or "This is where we ..." I think if Mila knew how to roll her eyes she would have.

The rest of the weekend was spent hiking up near the Golden Gate Bridge. Which is actually one of my favorite things to do. We also found this seriously yummy restaurant in Mill Valley called Playa. If you love tacos go there immediately. We lounged around in the sunshine and watched the Oscar mix up finale! Haha!

Below are a few photos from our remarkably lazy, yet heavily reminiscent weekend!


Happy Campers

Last week we took a long drive up to Humboldt County for a fun camping vacation. When Ryan was about Mila's age we took him beach camping near Malibu and it was honestly one of my favorite family adventures. Both Dan and I have been camping since we were our children's age. Camping is just one of those things that brings on a thousand incredible memories for us. I knew for Mila's first Summer we had to make a memorable camping voyage and we really hit this one out of the park! We packed all the essentials, warm clothes, s'mores ingredients and enough diapers to get through a week. I actually received a lot of questions on how we managed camping with a little one. Honestly, it was pretty simple. I'll put together a little must have list that helped me and post it soon. I definitely recommend camping though starting at Mila's age and on!

We spent our days hiking within redwood tree groves and having picnic lunches with the best Mother Earth scenery. The beautiful trees almost made up for when Mila kicked my salami sandwich into the dirt while sitting on my lap ;) I had never been up to see the redwood trees and they are truly beautiful. So big, when you take a look up it takes your breath away. This world is a pretty amazing one. We ended up using a lot of Ryan's belongings and on the first day I had a minor panic attack about using it all. I felt for a quick moment guilty and didn't want him to be looking down on us thinking we are moving on with out him. I have these thoughts from time to time. We were using Ryan's hiking backpack and Mila wore his blue jacket ... I guess I just came to the thought that Ryan was clearly with us in some way. Some how. If Ryan were physically here with us Mila would still be using his things, because that is typically want second siblings do right?

You know how I usually do things, I do everything with Ryan on my mind. So seeing his belongings in action once again was hard at first. Though the pain wore off and it felt really great to see us being us again. With Ryan present in his own vibrant way. I made sure our son was all over place and we even spelled his name out with these smooth beach pebbles. I also felt so inclined to give Mila her first taste of Nutella which I am sure her big brother approved of. Oh and she had her first roasted marshmallow too!

My favorite day of camping was when we took a long drive up to Samoa Island to eat at the Samoa Cookhouse. We ate so much and the whole family was with us. We explored all around that day and ended up at an old train station with refurbished trains from 1916, a beautiful beach lined with huge sandy dunes and the cutest town filled with weird knick knacks. Of course, it was the day we didn't bring the camera along. But we will be back, because there is a tiny bakery that apparently sells the best cinnamon rolls. We didn't have any cash on us to get one ... next time!

I was smart enough to bring along our Gathre mats which were such lifesaver! I laid them out on the ground and put toys on them for Mila to play with while we made breakfast or just hanging out at the camp site. Those mats come in handy and I love taking them with us everywhere. Now that Mila is so close to crawling, her curiosity gets the best of her sometimes. She played with her toys for a few moments, then wanted to take a taste of nature. She escaped the mats to eat a leaf or two ...

The four of us truly had the best time and are already planning another camping trip for the fall. Below are a few of my favorite photos from our time spent within the redwoods. Thanks for coming along with us on our journey!


Our Love Story

While we were camping last week, Dan and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. It seems so silly saying our third wedding anniversary...when it feels as though Dan and I have lived a thousands lives together. We've been married such a small amount of time compared to so many, and yet we've been through way more than so many. I have been spilling my heart all over my blog for the last five years and somehow I've never really shared much of our wedding day. I took a moment this weekend and looked at our photos for the first time in a loooong time. I am surprised that I never shed a single tear! I just kept saying "Ahhh Dan! Look! Remember that? Remember this?" I may be biased, but our wedding was pretty incredible ...

Our journey begins as many couples do ... Dan and I met early within our sophomore year of college (2004). He lived in the dorm room just beneath me and his red hair caught my attention. Honestly, I was attracted to him first and racked my brain on ways to try and talk to him. He rode a skateboard to and from the one class we had together, Economics. He sat clear across the lecture hall from me, and I paid more attention to him than my professor. I liked the way he stuck his tongue out while taking notes. Something he stills does when he is concentrating on something. I got a C in Economics, but an A in Dan Saldana. He was my boyfriend by the end of that semester. ;)

For a ridiculous sorority dress up party I had to wear boys underwear and I jumped at the chance to ask Dan if I could borrow a pair! Yes, that was our first interaction. I walked downstairs, knocked on his door and asked him to borrow his boxers. I saw he was making a quesadilla with a plastic white spatula. He quickly ran to his room to grab his undies and handed me a pair of grey boxers with tiny diamonds all over them. When Dan tells this story he says "She made me burn my quesadilla!" Anyways, I was so happy I held onto his underwear and waited until the perfect time to give them back/talk to him again. When I gave them back we exchanged AOL screen names and I guess the rest is history. Dan's mom, would send him college care packages full of Oreos and he would Instant Message me late at night to come eat cookies with him. A pretty innocent booty call. We spent our time studying, watching television and listening to music while cuddling on his tiny twin bed. I asked him to my sorority formal by baking him a cake and frosted "Will You Go To Formal With Me?" on top. So much happened in a few short months. I borrowed boxers from Dan in October and he finally asked me to be his girlfriend in December.

Right now, twelve years later, the white spatula is still being used in our kitchen and helps make the best pancakes. The infamous borrowed boxers are spattered with holes and folded nicely in our closet.

Our story is actually pretty simple and unique to Dan and I. We dated through out college, grad school and 1st time jobs. We did our own thing and spent a lot of time together when we had the time to. We starting dating when texting became a thing and Facebook was just born. I like to think we grew up together, we grew up into adults together and into parents together. Our friends and family knew us as "Dan and Jacqui". A few didn't even know if we were dating still since college or if we just had morphed into close friends. We were best friends. We are best friends. After six years together we were happily surprised/shocked when we found out I was pregnant with Ryan. Our dating friendship hit the pavement running quick towards parenthood and honestly we kicked ass at it all. When I take a moment and think back on us living in our first tiny apartment with our first tiny baby ... my heart just feels so proud.

So, just three years ago Dan and I got married. Surrounded by all the people we love the most. The best part is that our son was there and our wedding photos prove just how happy the three of us were. How we all thought this was our forever. When I see my son's face he has these knowing angel eyes. Dan and I had no idea of the life that was ahead of us, though I am sure Ryan was preparing us for it. Actually, I know he was. God only gives us what we can handle, and he knew, and Ryan knew that we could handle anything so long as we did it together.

I wish so badly I could relive our wedding day. It holds so many great memories. We had a photo booth and about 30 photo strips are just of the top of Ryan's head. He just kept going in to the booth and hitting the button, but was to short to reach the camera. We had a taco truck and they brought popsicles to go along with our wedding cupcakes. Both Dan and I never got a popsicle, but Ryan ate nearly six. Apparently he was the only one who knew where they were being kept and was single handedly giving them out one by one to the people of his choosing. In all our reception photos his mouth is colored bright strawberry red. After our wedding Ryan referred to it as "Mommy and Daddy's Party". I can't wait to show Mila the photos of her parents party!

Anyways, there are way too many photos to share here but below are a few of my favorites.

Happy Third Wedding Anniversary To Us!

Dan and Jacqui being Dan and Jacqui since 2004 ... I love you so much Dan.


I made a lot of wedding decor on my own. I made our table cloths from fabric which I dyed grey and splattered with gold paint. I went to home depot with Ryan and I had twelve of these wooden blocks cut. I then bought thread and a thousand nails to make my own table numbers. I requested wild flowers and decorated the outside cocktail area with photos highlighting the best moments of Dan and Jacqui.


A Big Huge Thank You

Friends! It has been two weeks since I've had my surgery and I can't believe the amount of messages, emails and kind words that I had waiting for me. I want to Thank You all so much! My surgery went well and I can finally walk with minimal pain. Hernia surgeries are no joke . . . even more so while pregnant. Especially when your doctor has you do the surgery awake while only using a local anesthetic to keep the baby as safe as possible. I'm so thankful it is all over and my muscles are all fixed and in place again. As everything heals I can go for short walks and that is pretty much it.

My doctor did clear me for a little 'baby moon' to Hawaii, so long as I promised to relax. Baby and I have been eating our weight in Hawaiian Shave Ice and watching Dan snorkel and swim from the shoreline. However, lounging by the beach is definitely better than lounging on my couch.

We just arrived and below are a just a few photos. I can't thank you enough for all your sweet words.

Thank You for taking part in my journey, your love means the world.