Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy birthday! (yesterday)

(Side note: Growing up we would get a calendar every year with all the extended family birthdays printed on it. My aunt and I shared a birthday, and since they couldn't fit both of us on the same day, mine was always printed on January 2 saying: "Carly's __th birthday (yesterday)." I was always so annoyed that no one knew it was my birthday until it was over.

And yet here I am, doing the same thing to my daughter. *Sigh*)


Yesterday, we celebrated the one year anniversary of the birth of our baby girl. It's amazing to me how fast the first year flies by. No other year encompasses so many developmental milestones. A year ago we brought our precious not-so-little baby home from the hospital. She was completely dependent on us for everything. Now she is a toddling, jabbering one-year-old with a contagious smile and impressive appetite. There are so many things I love about Savannah. Whenever you hand her a stuffed animal, she pulls it up to her shoulder and cuddles with it. She LOVES graham crackers and jumps in her chair when she sees one. She thinks it's funny when Logan chases her, although usually her attempts to "run" away end up with her face planting on the floor. She cuddles with me when she's tired, which makes it difficult to put her to bed sometimes. When Logan sings, "Shake your booty," she bounces up and down and laughs.

Happy Birthday, baby girl!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

The cruise: part III

The next morning we attended church with my parents, then loaded up our bags and kissed the kids goodbye. I was especially sad to leave Savannah, not because I love her more than Logan, but because I knew she would change the most during our absence. But I knew I was leaving them in good hands so I gave them each one last hug and walked out the door.

The ship left out of L.A., so we had a 90 minute drive to get up there. This is the drive we each made many times during the months before our wedding (when Jeff was living in L.A. County and I was at home in San Diego) so it always brings back many memories. We made it to the dock with no difficulties, parked the car, and dropped off our bags. We checked in and made our way to the gangplank. Just before boarding, a security officer stopped us and asked to see our passports and boarding passes. I handed her mine and she stared at them for a few seconds. She looked up at me, then back at the documents in her hand.

"Is there a reason the last name is different?" she asked.
"I'm sorry?" I stammered.
"The last name is different on your boarding pass and on your passport." I looked down where she pointed and a rock hit the bottom of my stomach. I had never changed my passport to my married name.
"Oh no! That's my maiden name!" I burst, hoping beyond belief she would accept that and let me pass.
"Well, do you have any other photo ID?"
I scrambled to pull out my driver's license and shoved it, perhaps a little forcefully, in her face.
"Ok, you can go." She returned my other papers and I exhaled in relief. I couldn't believe I had missed that! From that moment until we got back off the boat 7 days later, I was holding my breath no one else would need to see my passport.

A few minutes later we had made it to our room. It was just as I remembered from my last cruise 7 years ago: cramped, cozy and dark. Almost immediately we left and began exploring the ship. We found the pools and spas, gym (which we never used, although I brought gym clothes), sports court, miniature golf course, rock climbing wall, ice rink, theater, shops, and dining room. Jeff was most excited about the sports court; I was most excited for dinner.



By noon the next day we were in San Francisco. We all stood on the deck as we cruised into the harbor to watch as we went under the Golden Gate Bridge. The ship had less than 10 feet of clearance, so from the top deck we had a pretty good view of the under workings of the bridge.


Jeff and I already knew we wanted to rent bikes in San Francisco, so when we walked by a bike rental tent just a rock's throw from our pier, we were an easy sale. The company provided us with bikes, helmets, and maps directing us how to get the bridge and how to get back via ferry (if we were too lazy to bike back). The map indicated the ride would be about 8 miles. It didn't sound daunting until we actually started riding... straight into the infamous San Francisco wind. To make things worse, the trail eventually gave way to a sandy beachfront. Not exactly ideal biking conditions.




By the time we actually made it to the bridge, we were just a tad tired, but the bridge itself had more in store for us. The wind was SOOOO strong! There were times I was afraid it would blow me right off! We stopped briefly for a "we were there" picture, then quickly got back on our bikes to finish the ride.


To our relief, the ride on the other side of the bridge was mostly downhill and we made it successfully to the ferry and rode back across the bay. We had a few hours left before we had to be back on the ship, so I convinced Jeff to walk up to Lombard Street. It didn't seem that far on the map and I couldn't justify being so close and not seeing it in person. We started off and before we knew it we were trudging slowly up one of the steepest roads I had ever been on. It was only a few blocks uphill, but my thighs were burning worse than any squat workout I've ever done, but the view from the top was totally worth it.


What an amazing street! Red brick, bright flowers, quaint homes... my goodness, the homes! I think I pointed out my dream home to Jeff about 83 times.

"This is definitely my favorite."


"I take it back. THIS is my favorite."


(That conversation continued for the next 8 blocks.)


We both had sore legs for the next three days, but if I had to do it again, I wouldn't change a thing. Except for maybe getting a bowl of clam chowder on the way back instead of a 6-pack of root beer. (They didn't have root beer on the boat and Jeff was having withdrawals.) But you have to save something for the next time, right?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ikea Hacker

Have you guys seen this blog? I think I just rediscovered my love for Ikea. I've been looking for a cute kitchen set for Savannah's birthday and fell in love with this. It might be more work than I can do in a week, but maybe for Christmas...

Monday, June 15, 2009

A new star

I have to take a break from our cruise travelogue to share a video my friend, Julie, just posted. She is an awesome musician and I LOVE her voice. She is going to be on the new EFY CD this year and I can't wait to get my copy. This is a link to her singing a song by Luna Halo/Taylor Swift. Isn't she awesome?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The cruise: part II

The next morning we woke up early so that we could get in to San Diego before too much of the day was gone. This was going to be Jeff and my only chance to see family before we boarded the ship and we wanted to make the most of it. We repacked our bags and bustled our family through the smokey casino/hotel lobby (does anyone else hate taking their kids through casinos?) and back into our tiny car.

Logan was really getting anxious to see his grandparents. Every five minutes or so he would ask where Grandma's house was. We'd tell him we weren't there yet and he'd be satisfied with that answer for a minute, but then he'd sit up and point to a house and ask if that was it. Poor kid ended up not seeing Grandma's house until much later than expected because my brother called and invited us to join them on the beach on our way in. He is an adviser for the surf club at the high school he teaches at, and they had rented the Wavehouse for two hours. We got there a little late, but still had time to throw on wetsuits and try out the FlowRider for a few minutes. That was enough for me, but Jeff decided to advance to the FlowBarrel, which was several times bigger and more forceful than the FlowRider. My sister-in-law and I sat with our kids while we watched Jeff and my two brothers surf, bodyboard, and wipe out. (Mostly wipe out.) My brothers are seasoned surfers, so their difficulties attested to how powerful the simulated wave really was.




We finally made it to Grandma's house later that evening and were able to spend a relaxing evening with my family. I was beginning to feel some butterflies at the thought of leaving my kids for a week, but I squashed them by thinking about cruise food.



Saturday, June 13, 2009

The cruise: part I

We began planning our cruise about three weeks ago. One of my standard internet searches is for cruise deals. I had already determined a 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise was going to be our best bet because (a) anything shorter missed out on some of the best stops and (b) they usually left out of LA or San Diego so we could conveniently drop the kids off with my parents just before boarding the ship. However, though I was finding some great deals, every time I would try to book a trip an error would occur. Either the cruise was full (then why are you advertising it!) or I would get some generic message about the site being unable to process my request.

After a few days of frustration, I found an alternative. There was another cruise, same line as I had been looking at, same dates, and same departure port, going north instead of south. The price was pretty much unbeatable, so I thought, "Forget Mexico. We're going to Canada!" I called my Mom to make sure she could take the kids and booked the trip that night. Once the cruise was booked, I headed over to Royal Caribbean's website to check in. On their main page I saw a big note: "Swine Flu Update." Turns out, all Mexico cruises were being diverted north until all threats of Swine Flu were passed. So that explained both why I was having trouble booking Mexico cruises AND why the price was so low. I wasn't about to complain. If Swine Flu was the means of us FINALLY taking a cruise, so be it.

The cruise itinerary took us to San Francisco, Victoria (BC), and Seattle. Luckily, we both had current passports because there is no way we would have been able to renew them that quickly. I made all the necessary preparations for our absence and before I knew it we were just days away from beginning our 10 day trip. I had all but packed the bags and loaded the car. Things were going smoothly... too smoothly. Two days before we left, I received a phone call from someone interested in buying our car. It had been listed for several months and though we'd had lots of phone calls, no one had made us an offer, so I didn't think this would be any different.

But it was. The buyer was from Idaho, and he wanted to fly down THE NEXT DAY to pick up the car. Well, we weren't about to tell him no, so the day before we were supposed to begin our drive down to California, we sold our road trip ready vehicle. We started running through our other options: we could take Jeff's truck, but it was a work vehicle so we'd have to pay by the mile. My brother had left his car at our house for the summer, so we could borrow that, but it was small and would make for an uncomfortable ride. We could rent a car, but I could only imagine what the bill for that would be. We could try to quickly buy a new car, but I was hesitant to jump into a major purchase under that kind of pressure.

We eventually opted to drive my brother's car. It actually used to be our car, so we were familiar with it, but we'd never tried to fit 2 car seats in it. We knew we were in for trouble when after 2 minutes on the road, the rear window rolled part way down and wouldn't go back up. We were considering stopping to jimmy-rig it, but then it mysteriously rolled up on it's own. Phew!

An hour later, Logan was getting restless so we got out the DVD player (our road trip LIFESAVER). That idea was busted when we realized the cigarette lighter didn't work and we didn't have any other source of power. SWEET.

By the time we made it to St. George, Logan was getting really antsy. We stopped for some dinner at Burger King, then walked over to the fun center across the street to see if we could all get some energy out. Logan saw the go-karts and was sold, but unfortunately he was too short to ride the big karts. So he had to settle for the little ones. Jeff road behind him to make sure he didn't steer into the sides, but the kart only went about 1/2 mile per hour and Logan was the only one on the track so it probably didn't really matter.


The stop did the trick, and for the rest of the drive both kids slept. We made it to Primm (our usual stop when we break the trip into two legs) and got into our $20 hotel room. The kids suddenly had a second wind once we were in the room, but after an hour we were all asleep.

One day down, nine more to go.

Meet our newest family member

Two weeks ago we sold this baby. She was less than 2 years old, had under 30,000 miles, and I loved her. It was a bittersweet day.

Three days ago we bought this old fogy. She is well loved, has over 130,000 miles, and needed some small repairs. The verdict is still out on how I feel about her.

I actually wrote a big old long post about why we decided to make this switch, but it ended up being a little too personal for the world wide web. I will say that Jeff and I volunteered at the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover a few weeks ago and that may have something to do with it. If you are familiar with his program, we have dubbed this our "Dave" car.