Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Baby Update: Week 20 -- Gender Reveal!

We had the ultrasound on Monday (our anniversary) and it was very exciting. She probably spent 30 minutes just making measurements and checking out our little BOY! It was pretty obvious in that regard. We're thrilled-- though would have honestly been happy with whatever God could have blessed us with. We've still got a ways to go before meeting our little (blond, pale, blue-eyed) man. Hehe. With our genes, these are likely given.
Baby W really liked his arm near his head and had it there for the majority of our time at the imaging center.
I just thought this was crazy cool!
Here's the monthly picture. Here are the past months: Month 1, Month 2, Month 3, Month 4 (for comparison).
These are some awesome videos they took of our little guy. He's a mover! I was most amazed by his little heart beating. It's just an incredible, awe-inspiring thing that God could create such a miracle. We're humbled.

How far along?: According to the doctor on Monday, I am measuring 3 days behind our original date. But, I'll keep with the current until I hear otherwise. It's not like Baby W will come on the exact date, anyhow. According to original calculations, I am at 20w1d
How big is Baby?: The size of a cantaloupe -- 6.5 inches long. Baby is also 10.6 ounces. I know the ultrasound technician gave me a closer calculation, but I forgot. It was an intense day!
Maternity clothes?: Mostly. I wear all maternity pants but I still wear some flowing shirts from pre-pregnancy. Now I am officially set. I have 3 different friends who have loaned me clothes and I've bought a few pieces myself. I will be perfect until it gets really cold-- then I might invest in a few large sweaters.
Sleep?: Yes, doing that quite well. Strange dreams are in true form.
Best moment of the week?: Seeing our baby on the screen. I think the coolest part was seeing the 4 chambers of the heart and a strong heartbeat.
Movements?: Yes, but none that are definitive. I feel lots of weird rumbling and bubbles, but no solid kicks-- or none that I am savvy enough to understand just yet. We did see Baby W do a complete somersault on the ultrasound machine and I couldn't feel a thing!
Food cravings?: No, but I have a new love for the Yoplait Delights yogurts. Fresh fruit is also on the list while it's still affordable.
Aversions?: No.
What I miss?: Being more active? Being able to run a mile, or two, or three without my knees hurting.
What I'm looking forward to?: We're looking forward to painting the nursery at some point soon.
Anything else?: Baby is creating all the gross stuff (as to avoid calling it by a name) in its body of which it will excrete when born. Ah, lovely. We were able to see them vividly (spine and ribs) on the ultrasound movements. We even have a video (above) to show the cool details.
This week in history: The Arizona immigration law is still controversial, Obama unemployment bill passed to extend help to jobless.

What's going on this week (with us)?: We've had a fun week so far. Last weekend we headed to Michigan and Indiana for a little Anniversary road trip and this week we're back to the norm. Ray has been working hard and I've been spending more time with friends locally. We went over to our friends, Jim & Kristi's house last night for a game night. We're seeing Bon Jovi in concert this weekend at Soldier Field!!!

We have another doctor's appointment today (my monthly OB). We'll see if there is anything else to report other than my obvious baby weight gain (and maybe ice cream-caused weight gain). :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Kid Furniture.

***Over the last few years, this post has received a lot of traffic through Google image searches and I've received a lot of emails inquiring about the chair in the blog post below. I'm sorry to say that I never did buy that oversized brown chair you are all so interested to purchase. It's no longer sold by the Chicago store I first snapped that picture, but there are really great chair-and-a-half options to help further your search. Good luck to you!


Recently we've invested in some furniture. For many reasons, we felt it necessary to begin purchasing some items for our home. We're having a baby in the next 5 months and we know there will be a few more visitors in our home. This room is our formal living room which used to only have a worn out, slipcovered loveseat and those two chairs. Now, we feel comfortable unveiling the *almost* complete room.

The loveseat made it into our family room to be reunited once again with our slipcovered couch. Those will eventually make their way down into the basement once that is finally resolved, cleaned thoroughly, patched up, fixed, etc. Once that happens, we'll consider buying new couches for the family room as well. The photos of my dream family room couches are below.

We purchased two identical couches for this room in chocolate brown. We are sort of brown-obsessed. It's so neutral and we can't help but select something that matches everything! The two corner chairs are the Avington collection from Target. We got an incredible deal on those, but not without an incredible amount of effort and driving on our part. The plant is currently dying (sigh). The pot is gorgeous and has lots of beaded detailing on it. We scored that at Home Depot. I just wish we knew how to keep that plant alive! Here's what it looked like when it was new and thriving (and a closeup of the pot). The bookcase was just moved from the family room-- I purchased that at Pier One Imports about 5 years ago. The ceiling fan is difficult to see but it will soon be gone. Once we decide to paint the room (the same color as the adjoining dining room), we'll also take out the dated, pink and white (eek!) ceiling fan. That will promptly make its way to freecycle because it's a nice name brand one that I'm sure was classy in the early 90's.

But... our most proud item in this room isn't the new furniture... but the rug! We drove about 20 miles away last weekend to check out a Bassett furniture showroom that would've been cooler if we hadn't slept in that was really nice, but nearly everything was sold! They were having insane markdowns on so many items and we left with this rug. It was a floor model (um, people will be walking on it in our house, too... so no big deal there), in just about perfect condition, and marked down to $73 (including tax) from an original price of $600! It's huge, quite formal, and looks great in the space. We had no intentions of purchasing a rug at the sale and didn't know our room size calculations. But for that price, we knew it would get some use no matter what!
Here's the view from the opposite side. I'm taking the photos from our dining room. Once we ordered the couches, I went online and scored the two teak end-tables for $65 each. They match the bookshelf, all the dining room furniture, and the molding quite well.

What we have left to finish in this room: window treatments, 2 lamps for the end tables, revive the plant (haha), replace the ceiling fan or patch the hole, paint the walls, and hang our Chicago black and white print of the Wrigley building.
A closeup of those new teak end tables. Anyone know of an affordable place to purchase lamps? Or... do you have any lamp design ideas? Which style of table lamps, color of lampshades, color of lamp base? I'm clueless.
Here's the love affair we're having with this other set of couches (told you about our obsession with brown, right?). These are at a local department store and are super expensive not priced competitively. This is actually the same store we purchased our dining room chairs. Our first priority is to start saving better. Since we've bought a home, a lot of our money has gone to expenses and furniture. Now that we feel our home is liveable (aka enough beds and furniture), we need to calm down. But, I can dream for the future and sending our current pieces of Bauhaus down to the basement and replacing them with these lovelies:
We're all about depth. I want a couch that can fit two people laying next to one another. And, it is required to be comfortable enough for afternoon naps. Every family room couch should be that comfortable. This is a deep, wide, and long couch with an incredible feeling of softness to it. While we currently have a loveseat on the opposing wall next to our fireplace, we won't be replacing it with another loveseat. We really like these oversized chairs. I think they call them 1/2's or something of that nature.
Now, for a dilemma. I already asked what kind of lamp would look best (feel free to give me links!) on those teak end tables in our sitting room... but now I need help with window treatments. This is the situation on our lower and upper level. We have gorgeous floor to ceiling windows in just about every room of our home. The problem is that the window on the right is so incredibly close the the corner and they are not evenly spaced along the wall. This presents a problem in treating the windows-- hanging drapes are pretty much out.

I am assuming we'll have to fit them with roman blinds or a valance. I will likely never use the blinds for their purpose of withholding light--because we like light and the beauty of having long windows, but we do need something. They seem too bare.
Here are some options I came up with... but by no means are these comprehensive. This is a boxcut valance in a natural tone. Since both rooms will have dark couches and dark wood accents, would light curtains even be good? What about the style in a darker shade? I like the simple valance.
Here's one without a valance. It has its own mini drape over the top which appears to act as a valance. It's a darker shade but I'm sure I could go lighter.
Finally, texture. What about those cool woven ones? Since we already have a lot of patterns in our formal sitting room, I don't know that these would work. I like texture but too much can seem overbearing. Final question... since you can see into the family room from the formal sitting room (and vice versa), should I choose the same window treatments so they are somewhat unified? After all, they both do have brown couches-- or will.
Random, but appropriate. I have found a new favorite thing. These yogurts are awesome! I've only tried the triple berry, but I can tell you it tastes a bit like strawberry ice cream. It's amazing. I've heard great things about this lemon flavor, too, but haven't tried it just yet.

Phew. That was a lot for just one post... but I can assure you that the next post will be even more exciting... though maybe not as long! We're finding out the gender of Baby W tonight (we hope)!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Anniversary weekend!

We celebrated our anniversary early since it lands on a Monday this year. Since Elliot had recently been to South Haven, Michigan a few times for work purposes, we decided to head that way so that I could experience the quaint town, too. We left Saturday morning and drove along the coast through Indiana and into Michigan. We stopped off at the visitor's center (we're such tourists-- we did this all the time on our road trip last summer) to grab a map and learn more about the state.

We then headed straight to South Haven and had a late lunch at an awesome restaurant called Clementine's for lunch where we sampled a very tasty sarsparilla with our sandwiches. We walked around the little town, walked through a farmer's market, and then off to the car for more adventures.

Our next stop, blueberry picking. We chose DeGrandchamp Farms for the U-picking and headed out with our bucket. There were some serious pickers out there! I was hearing others say, "We've got two full buckets... I guess that's enough" -- enough for what? A football team? Our intentions were just to experience the picking and to grab enough for a snack. We only picked about a pint and paid our 75 cents before heading on our way. It was just perfect, though, because we were able to pick only what we deemed suitable for our tastes. This meant that no mushy berries were chosen and there were a lot of reddish (under-ripe) berries because I like them sour, as I do most of my fruits. We hadn't been "picking" since we headed out a few years ago in the California fall (feels like summer) to pick apples with our friends Nik & Solange.

Then we were off to South Haven beach. I'm a Southern California beach girl, born and raised. You can see how I might have been apprehensive about this idea of a "beach" in the Midwest. Well, I thought it was wonderful! The sound of the beach that I love so much of crashing waves was present, the sand was soft and not silt-like as it is in the Florida gulf, the water was relatively warm, and the water was fairly clean. Some differences I noticed were that the water is without salt (it's a lake, after all), the sand area is a bit more shallow, and people brought floaties with them! Though there were waves, people still thought that if they blew up a floaty that they'd be able to lay leisurely and float. Not with those waves!

Most importantly, we felt that this is just as good of a "beach" experience (despite it being a lakefront) as it could or would be in Manhattan, Hermosa, or Redondo Beaches. I guess the most important thing was how family-friendly and unpretentious it felt being there. There were just a bunch of families spending the day together. We pictured bringing our own children there and renting out beach condos to stay for the weekend with friends and their kids. It's becoming clear that our lives have just barely scratched the surface of excitement. Soon we'll get to share this gorgeous world with our own little one.

This is the pier at South Haven. There isn't much to it, really.
We're now at the end of the pier for this lighthouse photo. You can find these lighthouses at many popular lakefront "beach" piers in Michigan.
Pretty nice, right?
We walked in the water for a bit and it was so nice!
After leaving South Haven, we got back in our hot car (thank goodness for air conditioning!) and set forth to Holland. We've been to the real Holland, so we weren't expecting to be blown away or to pay for any replica we'd already seen at the real deal! Well, we weren't blow away. It is a relatively large town north of South Haven along the Michigan coast. We did see that they advertised a "windmill island" of which was indeed a... windmill. It was closed and I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay since we'd seen windmills in so many other countries of the world that were authentic and often still used! While we saw some in Germany, most of them were seen in Amsterdam and the surrounding areas and countries. There are many that exist all over the world as well as in the U.S. Here's a photo of the one I took in Holland, Michigan.
I don't have photos to share, but our next stop was to our hotel-- then to Grand Haven. It's a bigger (and less quaint) version of South Haven but in the north. We drove there just to check it out and have dinner in a new city. We parked, walked around the waterfront there, gazed at everyone's ice cream cones in envy, and sat down for dinner at a restaurant overlooking the water. I generally do not believe in having Mexican food at a restaurant that serves all genres of food, simply because it's never as good as a restaurant that specializes in that type of food. Well, this was no different. Mediocre, but filling. I did enjoy drooling over the mojitos at other tables as I drank my club soda with lime. December will come.

We began to walk back to our car at 10 p.m. (they are on eastern time zone-- a bit hard to get used to for only a night's stay) and saw a very large area of bleachers overlooking the waterfront. The bleachers were packed with people! We walked down and read that they had light shows from Memorial Day until Labor Day, ever night. The light shows are done to the sound of popular music and the water fountains change colors and arrangements. I attempted a photo, but I won't bother. I'll just link you to a better place to see the spectacle. We stayed for only one song as we felt that the trillions of mosquitoes were eating our insides. At some point, the bugs do win. 

On a complete side note, I must mention something that disturbed me. For those who have ever experienced a Rite Aid drug store... this is speaking to you. Growing up in So Cal, we called these "Thrifty" stores. Thrifty served ice cream by the scoop in a strange cylinder shape with a tiny hole in the top from where the scoop extracted it onto the cone. My favorite flavors are (in this order): Chocolate Malted Crunch, Mint Chocolate Chip, Pistachio Nut (though I love pistachios, I hate them in ice cream. I pick them out), Chocolate Chip, and Sherbert. Every Thrifty carried this divine ice cream. And when Thrifty was purchased by this strange sounding name of a store called Rite Aid, they carried on the Thrifty ice cream name... as they should. On our recent trip to Cali, I attempted to purchase a lovely scoop of my ice cream delight... but they were all out of the CMC. Though feeling defeated, I opted for my second choice and stuck with the Mint Chocolate Chip. Fine. Well, there are no Rite Aid markets in Illinois. But, as we drove down a street in Michigan, I saw the lovely sign, assuming I was about to indulge in the best ice cream! We walked in. I see the cashier, photo lab, pharmacy, a bunch of overpriced drugstore items down the rows, but no ice cream. Ugh. Fine. I'll just buy some from the freezer section. None. to. be. found. NONE! Isn't that tragic, my dear west coast friends?

Now completely off topic, I'll continue on to what is today, Sunday. We woke up at our hotel in Holland, Michigan and decided what we wanted to do for the day. We decided to check out another beach at St. Joseph. We headed south past South Haven and to this beach town. Much like the others we visited, they all had waves, lots of people...

We walked the beach for a bit and headed back up to the car. Before we got there, I took advantage of what seemed like a good wash facility for my sandals. Kids were playing in this splash park that was entirely funded by the Whirlpool company, whose world headquarters are located in St. Joseph.
Then, off to another place I'd never been-- Notre Dame University. We left Michigan and headed southeast before arriving in South Bend, Indiana. We drove through the sleepy town to check out the campus. Ray had been to Notre Dame during his Air Force Lacrosse days when he flew in on private military jets to play ND. We parked the car and took a walk through some of the campus and on to the Basilica and Admissions building. As we walked, we listened to a few high school juniors being given a prospective student tour of the campus by a current ND student. Since we're joining the parenthood population, it's really wild to think about our future summers and the campus tours we'll take with our own kids when the time is right.

Here's the Basilica.

This fancy building is actually the admissions and main office building for the university.
We had a great weekend. Life couldn't possibly be more exciting than sharing it with my wonderful husband.
Cheers to two years and a lifetime of more!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Baby Update: Week 19 -- Halfway! Eek!

We've had a pretty nice week over here at the Wilson house. It included buying lots of furniture. Another post will come tomorrow if it all comes and is assembled. Until then, here's the baby update:

How far along?: 19w1d
How big is Baby?: Baby is 6 inches and about 8.5 oz. That's over half a pound! On another site, I saw it stated that baby was the size of an heirloom tomato-- or mango. My measurement calculations indicate that's either one very large tomato/mango... or these baby websites don't have accurate rulers.
Maternity clothes?: I actually just bought 4 pairs of shorts and two shirts. All of the shorts are too big (I bought a medium and I guess I'm still a small--despite feeling larger), but I think I'll just go with the baggy look and attempt to shrink them. I like a little leg room anyhow. I borrowed a bunch from friends and my current favorites are a pair of stretch black leggings from Alison. I may just have to invest and buy my own since I have a feeling I may never want to wear anything else for the next 5 months. Currently, I'm wearing a pair of plaid shorts with a shirt that fit me pre-pregnancy.
Sleep?: Yeah, it's fine. I only get up about twice during the night. The strangest thing about sleep are the dreams I have! Or shall I say, nightmares! They're super strange and non-baby related. Also, when I wake up in the morning and walk on the tile floor in our bathroom, my feet hurt. I imagine it's because not much circulation has reached them during sleep. After a few minutes, they're fine again.
Best moment of the week?: Having friends over for dinner on Monday night. We filled our entire 10-seater dining room table completely for the very first time! We had an Italian potluck and enjoyed entertaining in our new home.
Movements?: No. I know they'll come... just kind of wish there would be like one nudge just to give me peace of mind. It will come-- all of the books/websites/doctors say that it will occur between 16-22 weeks.
Food cravings?: Not so much-- but if you ask my friends and husband about our freezer right now, you'd think we had a food shortage at the local market. I have a normal fridge, but the freezer has about everything you can imagine in it... including Klondike bars, Drumsticks, gallons of ice cream...
Aversions?: No. I think we're back on track with food.
What I miss?: My thighs and butt being a tad smaller. I also miss cold beer or a nice salt-rimmed margarita.
What I'm looking forward to?: This weekend we're heading to Michigan for our anniversary celebration and staying in South Haven. We may go blueberry picking, out to dinner, exploring... who knows! We're also thrilled to have another ultrasound on Monday (on our anniversary), find out the gender, and celebrate at a new Indian restaurant!
Anything else?: Baby's body is covered in vernix (ew) to protect him/her from the pruning that amniotic fluid can cause on the skin.
This week in history: The cap was finally secured on the BP oil leak. Phew.

What's going on this week (with us)?: Furniture mania! We ordered couches this weekend for our sitting room, scored an incredible rug for $73 (including tax), regularly $600!, ordered end tables for the sitting room, and our crib arrived for pickup. Needless to say, we have a few things to photograph and blog about in the future. I hope to get around to that tomorrow night if all the items are in and assembled.

And now, the crib saga:
This was a fun scene. The crib arrived at the store and I had to go pick it up, solo. Ray was working and I have the larger car anyhow. So... I drive on down there, wait in line for someone to help me and shortly after they brought out the box. The box was obviously too large for my car to hold. I was about 7 miles from home and it was a Monday-- middle of the work day with few friends who were A. home, and B. had a car large enough to help. So... the lovely people helped me take the crib out of the box in pieces and stuff it in the car as best we could. I tied it down, threw on the flashers, and hoped it would arrive without scratching and damage. The bag over my license plate is simply for internet security reasons. I have no idea who reads this blog. About halfway home, it starts to sprinkle. Lovely. But... it did arrive at our house in one piece with no damage thanks to my incredible driving skills. It's now assembled in the baby's room. That reveal will come soon enough. I showed an image of the crib in this post.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Baby Update: Week 18

Yesterday we hit the 18-week mark in the pregnancy. While most strangers (at least men) haven't a clue still, it's clear that I am showing more and more as the weeks progress. The next photo will be posted at our 20 week mark (just after we find out the gender... eeek!).

How far along?: 18w1d
How big is Baby?: I read this morning that Baby W is about 5 1/2 inches long and around the size of a large bell pepper. I also read that baby is as long as a sweet potato.
Maternity clothes?: Yes. I can squeeze in to those pre-pregnancy clothes (most of them), but why? Actually, though, tonight I am wearing all pre-preg clothes that fit perfectly fine for a Yelp event we're going to at Meson Sabika (this awesome Spanish tapas restaurant we first visited with our friend Derrick & Liz).
Sleep?: It's been quite fine the past few days... but last weekend was brutal.
Best moment of the week?: Having a nice dinner at a new Indian restaurant with Ray. xo
Movements?: No. I thought I felt something last week... but this week, nothing. According to all those baby websites, I should be feeling something soon because the baby is moving all about and starting to "fill in" the space. Eek. That just means the belly is going to enlarge.
Food cravings?: No. How about everything in the fridge?
Aversions?: None
What I miss?: Weather between 65-75 degrees. Haha.
What I'm looking forward to?: The crib arriving!
Anything else?: Baby is yawning, hiccuping, rolling, twisting, kicking, punching, sucking, swallowing (its own pee... yuck). I guess we all did at some point, right?
This week in history: Steinbrenner (NY Yankees) passed away, oil is still leaking in the Gulf, Haiti is still in need of help 6 months later.

What's going on this week (with us)?: My family was up in NorCal yesterday and Monday for my grandpa's viewing and burial. I wasn't there with them, but was thinking of them often. We had fun bowling with our small group and extended 20's/30's group from Trinity on Monday and have been trying to be more active. I'm still jogging a few miles at a time (though that's pretty standard for me pre-pregnancy, too) but I can feel a difference in my knees and hips. I may have to stop eventually, but until that time, I'm trying to keep it up. Friday night was the usual sports lineup-- Ray played Ultimate Frisbee with friends and I went for a jog before meeting them at the park. We managed to get about 20 mosquito bites collectively and then headed to dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Lisle. Saturday was a lot of fun-- we went to Ikea for a walk around to check out baby nursery accessories/furniture options and bought a couple things (that moose rack and the shelve unit-- see below). We had a nice dinner on Saturday night at a new-to-us restaurant, Shikara. On Sunday, we went for a long walk around our neighborhood (about 2.5 hours!) and went over to our friends Alli & Tommy's house for a little poolside BBQ to celebrate Tommy's birthday and new job. Our friends Derrick and Liz were also there along with some new people we hadn't met before.

Here's a gift for Baby W from Aunt Samantha!

While it's empty and the walls behind it are not yet painted, the bookcase/storage unit is complete!
I scored this rocking chair for $20 on Craigslist!!! What a deal and it's in such great condition (aside from my terrible photo).
We're hoping to have the crib and dresser by this weekend... though that's a big wish. I am assuming we'll receive the crib in about a week and purchase the dresser after that (we're contemplating a smaller dresser because of the size of the space. More to come on that later).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Baby Update: Week 17

At week 17, we're starting to think about nursery options. I've been trying to buy a rocking chair on Craigslist (I want an old one... not the newer glider versions), but the sellers are obviously not super eager since they haven't returned my emails in a prompt manner. Maybe that means I should hold out for one that is a darker shade to match the furniture we're planning for.

Here's the pregnancy update for the week:

How far along?: 17w3d
How big is Baby?: Just about 5 inches long (think length of palm) and the size of an onion?! Though, I have never seen an onion with a diameter of 5 inches. Anyhow...
Maternity clothes?: No. I have a pair of pants I mentioned last week, though I don't wear them too often since it's really hot here in the Midwest! I still fit into all of my clothes, just not totally comfortably. Some friends have allowed me to borrow some maternity clothes and I'm grateful for that... but no shorts in the mix = not wearing them anytime soon.
Sleep?: Yeah, I do that... just not as well as I used to. Ha!
Best moment of the week?: Seeing family and friends in California and ordering some baby furniture
Movements?: I think I felt 3 small nudges last night. I think.
Food cravings?: Not really. I just want food and quite often.
Aversions?: No
What I miss?: To be specific, the summer ales. Sam Adams Summer Ale comes to mind right now. Oh, and sleeping through the night without having to take bathroom breaks.
What I'm looking forward to?: Baby furniture arriving and our next ultrasound
Anything else?: Baby W's skeleton is hardening this week, fat is growing around the bones, and Baby W has unique fingerprints on his/her tiny fingers and toes.
This week in history: Russian/American spies are being swapped to their respective countries, LeBron James chose the Miami Heat, America celebrates Independence Day on July 4th

What's going on this week (with us)?: We just returned from California (see previous post) and Ray has a shortened work week. I've been researching furniture like crazy and getting ideas for the nursery. It's all very overwhelming since there's simply so much to choose from! On a sad note, my grandpa passed away on Tuesday. :(

Speaking of baby furniture... here is the crib we chose (it's a convertible crib, but does not have drop sides). We don't care for convertible cribs, but they generally have the best styles and are more readily available than those that don't convert into full beds:

Here's the dresser we're considering (but haven't yet purchased). It will double as a changing table and we love the style and color.
We're also interested in this storage unit to match the other furniture. I am envisioning a place to store books, various toys, etc. I think it would be a nice addition.

We love wildlife... as most of you know. This is a piece we plan to purchase for the baby's room. It's a Moose hook. The antlers bend forward and the 3 spaces between the legs also bend forward for hanging purposes. We love it! It only comes in red, but that's nothing a little spray paint won't be able to take care of.
Deliberations are on for paint colors... though it will be something neutral, regardless of the gender. We'd rather have neutral walls that we can decorate than walls we'll have to paint again and again... that color will be released closer to the gender reveal-- mainly because we're still on the fence about our decision!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm Going Going, Back Back, to Cali Cali

You're welcome for the Biggie-Smalls reference. 

We went back to California after leaving 11 months ago! It's been a long time and in some ways, it was weird. In others, nothing has changed. What I can say is that I have never felt so good than to have the feeling of that sea mist and marine layer on my skin. At times, I was even cold! Well, that's probably not saying much since it's been in the 60's-70's in California and the 80's-100's in the rest of the country, plus ridiculous humidity.

Our main reason for heading west was to see our good friend Jen marry Travis. We were so happy to witness a wonderful day. If you know Jen, you know she's all about the details. She's a master planner and planning her own wedding was just another fantastic event-- but this time with a much greater meaning. The wedding itself was held outdoors in Santa Clarita at Grace Baptist Church in their amphitheater. We were so nervous that it would be 100+ degrees (as usual) in Santa Clarita, but it wasn't! It was only in the 80's! The wedding site was gorgeous with pine trees surrounding the area. It looked rustic and natural.

The reception was held at a Clubhouse just a couple miles down the road and was also beautifully done. The clubhouse itself was a perfect venue and we could just see all of Jen's little touches in everything. There was a picture booth complete with costumes (where we put them in a book as their guestbook) and the DJ was the best we'd even seen at a wedding. He danced to the majority of the songs, too! For about 5-6 songs, he would come in front of the crowd and randomly make up dance moves that we stood behind and "copied" just like a dancing game of Simon Says. It was a ton of fun. There was a hamburger bar of pulled pork, chicken, or hamburger patties with your choice of toppings to choose from. And finally, there was a cupcake tier in lieu of a wedding cake. There were 4 types of cupcakes to choose from (peanut butter chocolate, mint chocolate chip, lemon raspberry, or red velvet) and they were super fancy. We were also served ice cream cones to go with our cake.

The end of the reception commenced with about 75 people (left) holding sparklers as Jen and Travis rode away on their bikes (completely decorated with flowers).What a fun couple they are... we're so happy to have been there! Now, they're in Costa Rica enjoying their honeymoon. Though I have no photos from the reception, here are a few from the wedding ceremony:

Look how happy Jen is!

They are so fun. They took a panoramic photograph of the entire audience of guests in the middle of their ceremony on his iPhone! That should make for a fun photo.

On to other news... we were also able to spend some great time with my family while we visited. My mom picked us up from the airport on Friday, July 2nd, and we did some California runs... ate at Rubio's and bought ice cream at Thrifty (Sadly, chocolate malted crunch was all out! I had to settle for mint n' chip). We hung out at my parent's house that night, had dinner there, and were up early the next morning for some visiting with friends. With limited time, we wanted to pack in a few meals with good friends since we never see them!

First stop, the Yellow Vase in the Redondo Riviera. It's a cute bakery/cafe that also has delicious breakfasts. We met Alison, Nic, Gabrielle, and baby Scotty. He is so so so cute. I have never seen such a mild-mannered baby as he is. It was really nice seeing them before they headed off for a weekend of fun in Palm Springs.

Next stop, driving by our old stomping grounds. Yeah... this is what our old beach bungalow now looks like! Can we say, hillbilly? For a comparison shot from an earlier blog post (last year when we lived there), click here. Needless to say, it looked a lot better then. Not that it was amazing, but at least it didn't scream foreclosure.
After driving by the old bungalow, we headed to see more wonderful friends... Nik, Solange, and Caitlin. Caitlin was about 7 months old the last time we saw her, so she's obviously grown a ton! We hung out, talked a bunch, and picked up another favorite for lunch, Rascal's! We haven't had Rascal's in nearly a year and it's been way too long.

After leaving Nik & Solange's house, we headed to El Segundo to meet our friends Krista & Dave, and Rich and Beth. We were all carpooling to Santa Clarita for the wedding (above). It was great fun catching up with all of them during the car ride and throughout the wedding. We saw so many people that we hadn't seen in such a long time all in the same room that night. Some we could go another year (or more) without seeing. Haha.

On Sunday, we hung out with my parents and relaxed for the majority of the day. Sometimes it's just so nice not having any plans... especially since the day before was reunion overload! We had a late lunch at Island's (Oh, how we miss that restaurant!) and headed to the airport for our 6:30 flight. We walked in to a virtually empty airport. Okay, so it's July 4th and airports aren't particularly busy just hours before firework shows begin-- but it was eerily empty. We go to a kiosk to check in and it says we're too late to check in for our flight. Huh? We arrived 2.5 hours early! It turns out that our flight was changed (back in MAY!) to be 2 hours earlier than previously scheduled. We were not contacted about the flight change. The next flight out that day was a red-eye. No thanks. We asked to be put up in a hotel and leave on a morning flight on July 5th. We stayed at the Westin, took the hotel shuttle, and checked into our room. We took a trolley from our hotel to downtown Manhattan Beach to walk around and eat at Wahoo's for dinner. It was a really nice, relaxing time for us to spend together.

For those of you who know us, we met and were engaged in Manhattan Beach. Ray lived in Manhattan Beach at 3 different places along the beach before we married in July of 2008. It was sort of a mini-honeymoon for us and quite relaxing. Our flight change ended up being a wonderful experience. Although Manhattan Beach does not have fireworks (they do at Christmas and they're amazing!), we were able to see the Redondo Beach fireworks (where on July 4, 2006, we made it official!). That was also very special. Back to the Westin, sleep... then off to our scheduled flight the next morning! Here are a few beach photos:

Oh, the disappointment I have that they turned a classy Manhattan Beach into a Venice Beach with those hideously painted lifeguard stands. Ick.
It was a wonderful trip back to our old stomping grounds. We had great visits with my family, our friends, and we were able to see Jen and Travis say their vows. Now, back in Chicagoland and embracing the humidity and cicadas.