May 26, 2014

I Want to Ride My Bicycle!

Saturday was just one of those days.

I woke up in a great mood! Although I was up often with the kids throughout the night, they were both snuggled on top of me (which never happens) and it made the lack of sleep ok. Lilly adoringly talked about how my stomach, which she used as a pillow, was talking to her all night and saying "gurgle gurgle". There was a nice breeze outside. Fluffy white clouds were billowing up in the bright blue sky. It was going to be a good day.

Then I went to the store to pick up the bike I had ordered the night before. I was on a time crunch because Jeff had to be at a class. I skipped breakfast to get there and back expeditiously. I arrived 15 minutes before the store opened. Crap! As soon as they unlocked the doors, I went into customer service to pick up my bike. I couldn't wait to get home, set up the new kid bike trailer and go cruising around. I was elated. I knew the girls would have a blast as well.

they must think this is a fort
-me "Hi. I'm picking up a bike that was ordered"
-worker "I'm sorry. It's not put together. Do you want to come back later"
-me "um NO! The email I got said my order was ready for pick up"
-worker "hold on".....chit chat on the phone with her boss
-me "can I just have it in the box & I'll put it together myself. I'm not coming back here"
-worker "sure let me ask"
-me "I want a discount for having to assemble myself"
Manager comes, gives me a discount & some sorry-we-effed-up vouchers and I was on my merry way. Not exactly the way I wanted to do this but I got the bike for cheaper, so it was totally worth it!

I thought.

Have you ever tried to put together a bike, with 2 very curious little people roaming about? Fingers grabbing, bodies bumping, questions spilling out of their mouths a mile a minute as I try to figure out how to adjust brakes and assemble this bike to where I won't kill myself when I went to ride it. We didn't have the right size wrenches, the sockets were a pain in the ass to get out of the case, I had to keep pulling monkey girl Violet off the bike, as Lilly kept clanking tools onto the brand new fenders. My ratchet came up missing and I still can't find it!
so tiring playing make believe journey

Between the clusterfuck that is our tool box, nursing, changing diapers, wiping butts & doling out snacks to seemingly starving children, what should have taken a half hour tops took over an hour & half. Only, there was a bolt missing from letting me put the front fender onto the frame. AND the storage rack on the back was missing a bolt head. Like it had been snapped off in the factory and would've required me drilling it out. The store manager said there was another in stock and that I could swap it out tomorrow. Sigh. No cruising around the neighborhood for me. The girls, however, geeked out on the bike trailer. They sat in it, all buckled up, had a snack, some laughs, and almost freaked out when I tried to unbuckle them. I know once we start cruising around, they are going to have so much fun! I wish I could join them back there!

Fast forward to Sunday and I again rush to the store 1st thing in the morning. I get there. The replacement bike was STILL. IN. THE. BOX! Are you f*cking kidding me? They said it could be ready in 20 minutes. More sorry-we-effed-up vouchers were handed over. I wandered the store. Went back to customer service to be told they needed 15 more minutes. I didn't have the time because again Jeff needed to be at class. So AGAIN I was without a bike to ride. Grrrr. Jeff was able to pick it up on his way home and...
ready to roll

FINALLY today I got to ride. I rode for an hour, just cruising around. Kids loved it. I sweated buckets. This is going to be more of a workout than I anticipated, pulling 50ish pounds around. Tomorrow, we ride again! If my legs still work;)

May 24, 2014

Backyard Budget Wedding

It already seems like eons ago; our wedding and time in Hawai'i. I did so much researching the year prior for the right place to stay, have the ceremony, ways to keep it cheap, etc. So, I thought I would share in case any of my readers are looking for pointers on keeping costs at a minimum for a wedding, renewal. Hell, any big celebration really!

We didn't want to go into debt just to get married. Our family & friends wouldn't have cared if we got married in pajamas. Though I'm sure some of them would've thought WTF? Ok, I think some of them would have SAID it to us;) So it was really all about what WE wanted. As it should be. Our criteria was simple:

-outdoor wedding
-NOT where we live
-don't spend a shit ton of money

At first we searched for a typical destination wedding. Ya know, at a resort, all inclusive, no planning on my behalf. But everything we came across was so expensive. $100 for a tiny bouquet of simple flowers? Are you effin serious?! Plus, all of our guests would need to get passports and ours were about to expire.

Next, we thought a cruise would be awesome! No one would need to find lodging, no need to get together and decide on where to eat or where to hang out. Just get your ass on the boat and enjoy! But, again with the passports and bigger price tag.

We pondered, where can we go that is far from here, beautiful, warm, water and no need for a passport or knowing another language. Hawai'i was the perfect choice! Considering all of the islands have their own unique appeal, it could've been a hard choice deciding which one. However, we knew we wanted to see lava! The creation of new land as we embarked upon a new journey and stage in our lives. The Big Island won our vote and off to planning we went!

I'm not counting the flights or rental house we stayed at because this was also a family vacation and those things would have been paid for regardless if there were a wedding or not. In case anyone is curious though, THIS amazing home is the one we rented. I can't give enough kudos to the house, the yard, the helpful owners and the sweet property manager. We didn't want to leave.

-Place of ceremony & reception: FREE (well, it was in the yard & house of our rental). A large part of the search was finding a home with a beautiful outdoor space for the ceremony & enough seating and indoor space for the reception so that we didn't need to rent chairs, etc. The house was a perfect choice!
-Officiant: Rev Barbara Concoby $400. Super sweet woman & fantastic ceremony! She included blowing of the conch shell, fresh flower leis, bubbles, foot blessing & flower shower.
-Photographer: White Dot Photography $936 She was AMAZING! The girls were all over the place & non-cooperative, but she still managed to capture beautiful photos of them. Of us:)
-Cake: We didn't want to spend a hundred on a cake so I went to the grocery store and ordered a plain white cake. It didn't include fancy flavors or fillings, but that was fine and worth the money savings. $15 from the Safeway bakery section. + this cake topper for $25
-Bride Dress: $190 from Alfred Angelo. Was actually a bridesmaid dress that I ordered in Ivory. The alterations cost almost as much as the dress! We decided to go sans shoes:)
-Groom Suit: about $200, from Express
-our little Flower Girls: I made the dresses, fabric was around $20
 -Bouquet: Free, by Mother Nature, picked by the groom, assembled by BFF
-Food & Drinks: Somewhere under $300. We prepped most the night before & people lovingly fired up the grill while we did photos post ceremony. It was all finger foods. We did forget to put out the plethora of cheeses. Oops. If I had to change one thing and could've spent more money on something, this is the place it would go. It would have been much easier to have the food catered. We saved on alcohol by only having beer/wine (which others brought) and a signature cocktail.
-Hair & Makeup: Lush Hair Salon. Technically I didn't pay anything for my hair because my hair fell before I even put on my dress, so I got a refund. Makeup was $35
-Decorations: Free. We used beautiful bowls, platters, vases that were in the rental house. Jeff brought some of his handblown glass bud vases. Used tree branches to display photos. Mother Nature provided the scenery.
-Guest Book: $10 Jenga game that everyone wrote on the pieces so we can read them as we play
-Rings: $130 tattoo rings from Big Island Tattoo. Neither of us can wear rings for work, so no point in an actual ring.
-Jewelry: less than $30 from Charming Charlie's
-Gifts for Guests: my dear friend Cynthia made, as a gift to us, adorable bracelets for all the women & the 4 little girls. Jeff made a glass pendant for all the dudes.

Keeping the expenditures at a minimum and not waking the next morning in a post wedding spending hangover made it even more pleasurable. Sure, a few things could've been done differently, but all in all it was a success!

Give That Mouse a Cookie!

The girls love to learn and play. Lilly is always pretending to go to school and rides her bike in the house, usually sporting her Dora backpack, undies & a smile. Sometimes a headband. Since she likes to pretend to be at an institution of learning, I may as well run with it! I find activities that we call "school". I just go off her cues for now and "school" is not something we do every day. As I was doing some searching around for ideas for different & new activities, I stumbled across Before Five in a Row. It's a book that recommends classic books and various activities related to the context of each story. Awesome idea! We don't have any of those books as of yet, so I decided to search for activities to go with books we DO own and love. Low and behold, I found quite a few so far and was completely stoked!

I found these activities for one of the books that we have read a multitude of times. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Never read it? It's about a pain in the ass mouse that gets a cookie and wants something new with each page, snowballing into request after request until the little kid is exhausted. It's a fun read.

First I made these cards where she had to count the cookies and place the clothespin on the matching number. I decided to laminate them so they would remain durable for Violet too when she's old enough.

Next, she got to search the house for 7 round shapes. I included a couple cookies which only seemed appropriate to go with the story;) I mean, who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies?

lava rock, tea pot lid, cookies, cupcake, penny, poker chip

I was giddy to break out the laminator again. Nerd. Hey, what can I say? I like to live on the edge. I made chocolate chip cookies and "other" cookies. Use your imagination. I only had orange & white paper. I guess these could be sugar cookies & peanut butter cookies. One set has lower case letters on them, the other has upper case letters. The object of the game is to match a big & small letter.
I had so much fun making these activities and having something that correlates with her stories, that I'm excited to make more! And she sure seems to like them.

May 19, 2014

What Did You Call Me?

Getting married. Changing your name. I'd be lying if I said it were no big deal. I was nauseated when filling out the marriage license when I got to the part where you state what your name will be after the wedding. If you decide to change it. Jeff was fully on board with whatever decision I made. Change my name. Keep my name. Whatever. One of the many reasons I love him.
Sometimes in the past when we received a letter or package, it would say Amy &Jeff Rutherford, or Rutherford family. Which is fine. It makes things easy. And I never minded. But if anyone ever refers to me as Mrs Jeffrey Rutherford, I might flip out! That phrasing really gets under my skin, as if I no longer have any identity and suddenly now belong to him. Ugh.

My whole life, my name has been what it is. For 35 years. Now, I'm supposed to go change it? And not even to something cool like Princess Consuela Bananahammock.  And he gets to still be who he's been? It just seems weird. Makes me cringe. And is quite an antiquated custom that I swore I would never follow. But never say never, right?  Now that we have kids, and their last name is his, it seems trickier to have different names than theirs. By the way, up until the minute after Lilly was born, she was going to have both our last names.
Here we are a month post marriage and I still haven't filed any of the stuff for a name change. But I have been mulling it over & decided to go with First Middle MyLast HisLast. Not hyphenated, so if I feel comfortable with dropping my last into the middle category, then I can. Or I keep as is. I've already recently changed my name to Mom, so why not another change?

May 8, 2014

Days of the Week

I decided that having a kid friendly calendar would be a great way for Lilly (&Violet when she gets older) to learn about the days of the week, months, seasons, etc and also know what is going on during the week. I searched for ideas and couldn't find much. Almost everything was too detailed. Or just not appealing to me. Then I stumbled upon this gem and thought OMG I'm doing that! I already had a bunch of felt and just needed to get a few other things. It took me a long time to make it, deciding the sizing of the pockets, cutting everything out, writing. I used mostly what I had laying around the house, which is why mine isn't as nice as the prototype. I even used recycled cardboard for the days of the week.
I purchased shapes from Michaels for the activities that we do most frequently and wrote the activity with a black marker and then glued them onto popsicle sticks. For the sun, moon, umbrella, cloud, I had Lilly put googly eyes on them. She got a kick out of that! I secretly giggle that I laid the colors out like ol' ROY G. BIV. Love that guy:)
I love that this calendar is a weekly view and that it also focuses on the season, month and the weather. Lilly loves moving the activity sticks around. The actual date plus the days of the week plus "today, tomorrow, yesterday" seems a bit too much for her right now. Plus it's a major pain digging out the actual itty bitty date numbers every. single. day. So, we don't often change the date. Right now we are focusing on days of the week and what's happening during the week. She likes telling me the weather too, though it's about 95% sunny here in AZ so that's an easy guess;) Now, if I could only get her to stop using the activity sticks as a pretend lollipop.

May 1, 2014

Lilly's Purple Plastic Basket

The Easter bunny came late due to our Hawaii trip. There was an epic battle over an egg. Beast vs man. There were casualties. I can't say tears weren't shed. In the end, with a little help from a sweet, curly haired girl, the men were trampled and the beasts triumphed over their victory. They celebrated by taking a ride in a purple basket, just as their ancestors had. The end.
Here she is, after she karate kicked down all the men.  

Geez my phone really takes crappy photos :/