We've had a lovely time at the beach and are on our way home today. Here's a taste of this year's beach photo shoot. These are straight out of camera shots uploaded from the laptop my sister brought, so it will be fun to edit them later.
Summer seems to suit this little girl. She's pretty much been living in her swimsuit. And she comes inside dirty every evening-- she calls herself a "dirty ball" after hearing me refer to her as a "dirt ball." This picture was taken at my parents house. Notice the swimsuit. Too bad it's almost August, which will mean back to school time. On the bright side, if everything goes as planned, I'll only be teaching until Christmas and then will have a nice time off with two sweet kiddos until the start of the next school year in 2011.
My recent trip to Arizona was a ton of fun! It was the perfect length considering it was over 105 degrees every day and there wasn't much you could do outside for an extended period of time (except hang out in the pool-- which I did a lot of). My grandmother (dad's mom) came with me and spent most of her time staying with her siblings that live out there and her son, my Uncle Dave. I stayed the entire time with one of my friends from college, Jane, and her family-- which includes her adorable daughter Collette (who turned one yesterday). When we landed, my Great Uncle Rich and my friend Jane met my grandmother at the airport. Uncle Rich and Aunt Barb live on a ranch as the caretakers of the owner's house. They have a pretty great gig going on there as the owners don't come very often in the summer. The view of the desert is great. The architecture inside the main home is beautiful and is very typical Southwest style. And who wouldn't love this pool? There is a dude ranch on the property where you can go and stay overnight to have a true Southwestern cowboy experience (it's one of two still operating for tourists in Tucson). However, my Uncle and Aunt don't have to worry about taking care of any part of that.
After a delicious lunch of cashew crusted salmon and chicken stuffed with goat cheese, Jane and I headed back to her house to relax and unpack. The next day, we met up with my grandma, Uncle Rich and my Great Aunt Pete (short for Perdita), as well as my Aunt Pete's daughter at my Aunt's cabin up on Mt. Lemmon. The drive up made this pregnant lady a little motion-sick, but once it was time to eat a delicious lunch, I was feeling much better. I went to Arizona four years ago and my Aunt's cabin was unfinished on the interior. In 2003, forest fires swept down the mountain (later found out to be caused by a careless hiker's cigarette). This is the view from the cabin's porch and you can see that there is still a lot of construction going on. Not to mention that it's pretty bare. The interior looks fantastic now and it was a perfect mountain retreat. Saturday was spent mostly in Jane's pool, but we did venture out for a bit to the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. The museum showcases some incredibly intricate miniatures-- including miniature instruments that played tiny crystal goblets. As a girl who loved playing with dollhouses, I really appreciated everything in the museum. Pictures weren't allowed, so I don't have any to share.
Sunday was pretty lazy as well. We went to church and then satisfied my In-N-Out burger craving (animal style of course). I got hooked on these burgers the summer during college that I spent in Los Angeles. Thank good some experienced patrons of the hamburger joint told me about ordering animal style. It's not on the menu, but the workers all know what it means-- special sauce and grilled onions + all the regular fixings.
Monday brought a short visit to the beautiful San Xavier mission. It was hot though, so we also spent more time by Jane's pool and then I got to visit with a few more relatives in the afternoon-- including my Uncle Dave (my dad's brother), who lives about an hour or so outside of Tucson. Eight years ago (I think that's how long ago it was), he was diagnosed with cancer and given about a year to live. God answers prayers and my Uncle is still with us today and at his most recent doctor's appointment was cancer-free.
Then came Tuesday. After 5 hours of flying I got to see my handsome hubby and sweet girl. They clearly didn't get bored without Mommy at home. My mom and hubby remembered to send me pictures of Cate often (the following pictures are phone pics), which helped me to not miss her quite so much. Just kidding-- I still missed her like crazy. On Friday they went with my parents to Coney Island, where Cate took her first paddle boat ride in the evening after swimming all afternoon. Sunday brought a lunch date that was just Cate and Daddy after church. And on Monday night, Eric and Cate took in a Reds game (until it was delayed due to rain-- they ended up winning). Eric even remembered to stop by Target and pick up a Reds shirt for Cate since she hasn't been since she was a baby. I was glad to be home, but also happy I got the chance to have a little vacation by myself. Because let's face it, I probably won't have that chance again for a few more years at least. Tucson is absolutely beautiful if you ever get the chance to go-- but don't go in the summer because man is it hot!
Call me crazy, but yes, I have started Christmas shopping. B is due December 27th. I'll be induced the 20th though. But since babies are unpredictable, I wanted to start now. I could end up on bedrest in December. Or B could come really early. Or...well, we could do this all day. So I've started Christmas shopping. Cate will be getting this dollhouse come December 25th (picture from the web since hers is all boxed up). It's the Fisher Price Loving Family Grand Dollhouse and it's pretty much her main gift. It comes with a mom, dad, and twin babies. We also got her some furniture (nursery, living room, dining room, kitchen, patio set, parents' room, and minivan). I still need to buy the bathroom. There are some other sets for the dollhouse too that family may buy her-- but we've at least got the necessities here. My friend's daughters have this and Cate LOVES to play with it whenever she's at there house.
She's getting better at playing some simple games and doing some more complicated puzzles-- so those will be under the tree too, along with a DVD or two and of course, some books (some of which I've already purchased). Cate isn't the only one we've already shopped for. But since friends and family read this blog, I can't divulge what else we're storing in the basement for the holiday season.
Okay, I can tell you one thing. I did go ahead and buy Cate's birthday present too since life with a newborn will be hectic. It's a Bitty Baby with the starter collection (again, picture totally taken from the American Girl site). When Cate turns three, B will be about 6 weeks old. We figured Cate would want a baby of her own to take care of. And again, there are lots of accessories that family can add or that mommy and daddy can add to in coming years. I loved American Girl dolls when I was younger. In fact, there are two (Felicity and Samantha) along with countless pieces of furniture and accessories sitting in our basement right now for when Cate is older. I think six is probably a good age to start letting her play with them and to perhaps trade in Bitty Baby for a new American Girl doll of her own.
You can call me crazy, but I call it getting organized.
It's been a fun trip, but I'm ready to kiss my hubby and see this smiling face again: I took that picture of Cate a couple of weeks ago during a "photo shoot" (for lack of a better phrase) that I was doing on some of my friend Nicole's knitted goods. Since teaching her to knit in the early spring, she's knitted several delicious scarves and some dishcloths. She's getting ready to put them on Etsy to raise money for a mission trip to South Africa. If you think you might want to buy one though, let me know. Here's just a sampling of what she's got: I might be a little fuzzy on my details here, but I'm pretty sure the scarves are about $30 each and I'm pretty sure 100% of the money is going towards her South Africa trip in September.
Anyway, here's to getting back on that jet plane tomorrow to see my wonderful husband and sweet, sweet girl.
Yes, I am in Arizona. No, I am not writing this from there. But as you are reading this and as I am enjoying some time to myself, I thought it worth mentioning that today marks one week since we unplugged this: No, we didn't get rid of our TV. We got rid of our satellite service and DVR. Since we weren't under contract anymore, they actually gave us some of our money back-- and rightfully so since we had paid through August (but a lot of companies would've just kept it).
Satellite service with DVR was costing us $70ish a month. Or $840 a year. And since we're trying to save some money so that I can hopefully leave work after B's birth and not return until the start of the 2011-2012 school year, this was a great way to start.
And to be perfectly honest. There's really not that much that we watch that isn't on regular network TV (which is free as long as your television is digital or you have a converter box). Our computer is hooked to our TV, so if we do miss an episode of something we want to watch, we can pull it up online and watch it on TV-- like DVR, only free. And for those shows that we like to watch that just haven't gotten around to going online for free-- ahem, Top Chef-- well, it's $1.99 to download an episode-- or $8 a month.
This past week we've spent just a bit more time reading, knitting, playing, going outside, talking, etc. because we haven't had the distraction of the TV. I like it. And I like that I'm saving so much money too. Maybe we'll spring for Netflix once B arrives and we're stuck inside a little more this winter. Did you know you can stream what you rent through your Wii? But event then, it'll only cost us $9 a month. Still a $61 savings.
And while we're on the subject of saving money-- my hubby and I (in the name of Baby B and an extended maternity leave) gave up our smart phones. There's another $60 a month. Although we hear Verizon might get the iPhone sometime next year. I do believe I smell a small splurge once I do return to work.
When we really sat down and started re-working our budget, it was actually pretty amazing at how much money we could save by changing just a few things. No internet on our phones, no satellite TV, no land line phone (no one called us on it anyway), eat out one less time per week (sometimes we don't even eat out at all), make our coffee at home instead of stopping in a coffee shops a few times a week, meal planning, and coupon cutting, are already saving us over $200 a month! It also helps that we take out cash to spend on everything from clothes to groceries to gas. We're a lot more conservative with our spending when we can't just whip out a debit card (we haven't used a credit card in three years).
And to be perfectly honest-- I really don't feel like our lifestyle has changed all that much. Because we do still eat out once a week. Or treat ourselves to a latte on occasion. And we're still planning to vacation this summer. And make some upgrades to the nursery so that it accommodates both Cate and Baby B.
Funny how much money you save when you really sit down and examine your spending habits. Dave Ramsey would be proud (we took his Financial Peace class two years ago and a lot of the above ideas-- especially the paying cash thing-- came from that).
This time tomorrow I'll be in the hot, hot, desert heat of Tucson, Arizona. And I'll be doing something I haven't done since before Cate was born-- leaving Cate and my handsome hubby for more than one night. Yeah, they're not going with me. And strangely enough, I'm really looking forward to it. But I will miss my sweet girl (okay, and Eric too) like crazy! Several relatives and one of my best friends from college live in Tucson. Originally, I was planning to take Cate with me and just leave Eric behind. But since Cate is over two years old, that would've required me buying her a seat. Which wouldn't have been a big deal, except then I got pregnant and got this crazy idea that I might want to take off the rest of next school year after B's birth, which would leave me without a paycheck for about six months (it will be so worth it though). So spending another $300+ to bring Cate was no longer an option at that point. So leaving her at home it is. And leaving her at home I will. I've left Cate and Eric overnight several times for one-night (usually for something school related, like a conference or Power of the Pen tournament). And Eric and I left her with my mom for five nights last summer when we headed to the West Coast to celebrate our fifth anniversary. But leaving them both for five nights? I guess there's a first time for everything. My mom is coming down to watch Cate three of the four days that Eric has to work (she'll go to one of her sitter's on the fourth day). Eric is a fantastic father, so I know she's in good hands the entire time I'm away. I'm looking forward to nights of uninterrupted sleep (Cate usually calls out once each night for us to open her door). I'm looking forward to seeing some family I haven't seen in awhile. I'm looking forward to hanging out with my friend, Jane. I'm looking forward to doing some reading on the airplane and poolside at Jane's house (yup, they have a pool-- I think you almost have to when you live in the desert). I'm looking forward to an In-n-Out Cheeseburger-- animal style. I'm looking forward to taking some awesome desert photographs. I'm looking forward to just having some time to myself. Because let's face it-- once Baby B arrives, I'm not going to have a chance like this again for awhile. ~Melody :-)
In my last post, I said that we were celebrating our sixth anniversary at the wedding of my friend, Emily. I've known Emily since we were in middle school and have been good friends with her since high school. We went to different schools but attended the same church and youth group. Her wedding was a sort of homecoming/reunion for a lot of us that spent our teen years together at First Church. Above are some of the girls (now women) that I used to get into trouble with hang out with a lot. There were countless sleepovers, cases of the "church giggles," shared secrets, and practical jokes (like when we thought it would be funny at summer camp to get the guys from our group to carry Emily's mattress-- with a sleeping Emily on it-- to a picnic table so she would wake up there-- the girl would sleep through anything). In fact, our group used to look a lot like this at summer camp each year (not sure I why I look so un-anxious to be in this photograph): Now we look like this (minus a few of the faces you see above): And well, since a lot of us have since found significant others and some of us have even had kids, we look a little more like this (minus the kids-- unless you count the one growing in my belly right now who is due just 3 days before Melissa's-- the bridesmaid on the left in this picture): It was a perfect way to celebrate 6 years of marriage. Being at weddings always reminds me of the vows Eric and I made to one another on July 10, 2004-- a mere 2,191 days ago (Emily's dad has a thing for counting days to or from big events, as he shared in a really cool toast to the bride and groom).
Congratulations again Emily and Joe! And to everyone else-- it was a blast seeing you again this weekend!
P.S. Thanks to Jennifer too (on the far left in the top picture). I totally stole all of these pictures from her Facebook site since I was too lazy to upload my own. :-)
(dinner on the last night of our honeymoon in Paris)
Six years ago on a hot, hot, afternoon in an un-airconditioned chapel on our university's campus, I married the love of my life. Who knew that just six short years later we'd have a beautiful daughter, another kiddo on the way, a mortgage, a minivan, and even more love and passion for one another than we had on the day we were married.
Today we are celebrating our anniversary at the wedding of one of my friends from high school. Emily and I were in the same youth group together (and her brother was my middle school love).
Here's to six years married to one of the best men I know and to hopefully many more! And congratulations Emily and Joe! Wishing you all of the love and happiness we've been blessed to know in our marriage. July 10th is a great day for getting married!
Last Friday, a friend of mine from work whose daughter is about 15 months older than Cate, invited us over for a play date. She had set up their art easel in the driveway and both girls spent some time painting. In fact, Cate was focused on painting different pictures for an hour! So this week we headed to Ikea, home of the $14.99 art easel. An additional $4.99 got us a roll of paper that fits onto the easel. And for $2.99 we got a set of brushes. Everything our budding artist needed for under $25.00! After setting it up in the backyard (so it would be easier to clean up later), Cate got to work creating some fabulous pieces. When she was done painting, we got to try out the chalkboard side of the easel. This is by far my favorite purchase of the summer so far. And it definitely reinforces my idea of taking Cate to art classes once a week next spring when I'm on an (hopefully) extended maternity leave. If you remember, Cate enjoyed the art class we took back in the spring, so I think a 12 week session would be a great way to get us both out of the house and give Daddy time to bond with the new baby.
We spent our 4th of July on the west side of our city with some friends from our small group. Cate had fun playing with the other kids all day and while waiting for the fireworks to start. She was a little scared at first, but then warmed up to the idea of fireworks and sat back to watch the show. I love these pictures of her watching the fireworks with Daddy and Mommy. I didn't use a flash at all-- the light comes from the fireworks. They're slightly blurry because I didn't have a tripod with me and had to hold the camera still for 5 seconds while the shutter was open in order to let in enough firework light. She crashed in the stroller on the way back to the car and even slept in 45 minutes later for us this morning!
Happy Belated 4th of July!
P.S. Our dog, Zoey, has become terrified of thunder (and fireworks) within the last few months. We have no idea what triggers it and we do our best to calm her down. She usually tries to wedge herself into some small spot in order to feel safe. This is where she went a couple of nights ago when some neighbors were shooting off some pre-Independence Day fireworks. She actually pawed some of the toys off the shelf to get back there. Poor dog!
My sister is visiting for the weekend. Cate already claimed her spot on Aunt C's lap as soon as she walked in the door and pretty much hasn't left it since... ...except to eat ice cream! Speaking of sisters-- Cate is convinced that she's going to have one. I ask her often if I'm growing a baby sister or brother in my belly. The answer is always "sister." Even when I change around how I word the question. We'll see if she's right. Eric thinks it's a boy because he dreamed we had a boy. He also dreamed I was only at the hospital for 3 hours before the boy was born. If you know anything about my labor and delivery with Cate, you know I'll take 3 hours over 27 hours any day. I'm kind of hoping he's right-- especially with the whole L and D thing.