Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Road Trip!

It was Memorial Day weekend and we intentionally had absolutely no plans. Mitch took Friday off so we were able to get all of your errands done before the weekend officially started. Saturday morning dawned and we were eating breakfast and talking about getting some shelves when Mitch asked if I wanted to go to IKEA. There are two IKEAS in the Los Angeles area -- a 4 hour drive one way from Vegas. I was a bit hesitant to drive 8 hours in one day with a 10 month old so we looked on-line to see if we could find a hotel for $50. Turns out, you can find a hotel on Memorial Day weekend for $39.99 in Barstow, California. So in about an hour we got everyone dressed and packed and out the door we went!

First stop: Primm, Nevada for lunch and shopping at the Primm Valley Outlets

Daddy & Ella outside the Casino/Hotel.

Ella's first Jello experience at lunch. Mommy had a BOGO free coupon for the buffet! Yum!

Second stop: Barstow, California
We spent the night at the Motel 6

And had dinner at Bun Boy.

Sunday morning we left Barstow and headed to IKEA in Covina, California.

Third stop: IKEA, Covina, California

FIVE HOURS later (we did stop for Swedish meatballs in the cafe)...we got back on the road.

Last stop: Big Boy, Barstow, California
After 5 hours in a shopping cart, 2 hours in the car and 30 minutes in a high chair, Ella needed to stretch her legs. So we played on the grass outside of Big Boy for a while.

We got all of our loot from IKEA home safely and spent Sunday re-decorating. Mostly we bought shelves and moved all of our stuff UP and out of the grasp of little girls. We decided to renew our lease and stay in this apartment for another fun-filled year and we needed to make it a bit more kid-proof.

I am a planner by nature so I'm not really the spur of the moment kind of person. This weekend was tons of fun, though, just because it was spur of the moment! Can't wait until Mitch decides to do it again!

IKEA Customer Service

We love IKEA (as evidenced by an entire 2 day trip focused around IKEA). When we were deciding where to move after living in Flagstaff, one major draw back to Vegas was no IKEA (there is one in Phoenix). But we figured that surely it won't take the IKEA people long to figure out that Vegas needs a store, too!

Our major purchase this weekend was this. When you buy a bed frame at IKEA, you go see a sales person so they can make sure you get ALL the parts of the frame. The frames require multiple boxes. Our sales person gave us two items to get. When you go down to the self-serve area, there are neon signs on bed frames that require multiple boxes. Ours had no such sign. Good. No problem. We found them, we got them.

We got home. Mitch took apart our king size bed and frame. Mitch put together the IKEA king size frame. We were missing a part. The midbeam. A $10 item that no one told us we needed. So we tried to call the store. Turns out, you can't call the store. You call a call center, they take your complaint and the store calls you back. See, we can get the midbeam, but we dont' feel we should have to pay the $18.51 in shipping. The person on the phone told us that ALL BED FRAMES at IKEA need the midbeam. No one told us and it wasn't posted anywhere.

Talk about frustration. So we are now waiting for a phone call back from the store. At this point, we're disappointed in IKEA's way of handling our problem. This is very sad because we love IKEA and we don't want problems with them. But we'll see what the store has to say about this mess....

We had a few other problems at this IKEA so maybe we just need to go to the one in Burbank next time.

The Milkman Arrives

Or at least the Winder Farms man (person). 7:45 AM, Monday May 28, Memorial Day and this is at my door.... Milk, chocolate milk, bread, eggs, bagels and yogurt.

On a side note, most of the major grocery stores here (at least Albertson and Vons(Safeway)), do deliver. You can order on-line and they bring it to your door. It's a bit pricier (I believe they charge a $10 delivery fee), but still convenient especially if you are working full-time. Who wants to go grocery shopping after a long week??

Now if we could only get them to bring it all inside to the kitchen like Scotland!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ella: In Action

Aunt Karin asked for some action shots of Ella pulling books off of the shelves. I got some of that plus a few others. Notice her M&M onesie, Babcia? Remember how big it looked when you bought it last summer??

Mitch: In Action

Last night was Mitch's spring concert -- marking the end of his 2nd year at Centennial! The third year officially begins next week when the new marching band music is revealed... but I can't tell you what that is until next week. It is TOP SECRET!

Last night's program included the jazz band playing a tune composed by Mitch entitled "CC's Groove".... guess who that is named after. The band also played "Washington Post March" (Sousa); Lincolnshire Posey (Grainger); and Superman (Williams). All of which are Grade 5 and 6 -- college level and above. Those kids, all 35 of them, nailed the pieces. It was really great!

I took some pictures last night, which turned out VERY badly, but still, you can see Mitch in action. These are from the warm up time -- the ones taken on stage really are awful.

I also snapped some shots of the new band uniforms -- the blue are the standard uniform and the white is the drum major. Interestingly, the school district purchases new uniforms for each high school every 8 years. That's $35,000 a pop.

The bands out here have their own names. Mitch's band is "Centennial Sound". The uniform is based on their logo:

I think you can see that logo on the pants as well. It won't show unless the kids take off their jackets (which they do at competitions).

And here's Ella crawling around a really, really filthy band room floor....

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Milk Man

He's back. At least on our doorstep. We just signed up for weekly grocery delivery -- all organic, of course. For a mere $2.95 we can get our groceries delivered to our doorstep. And with gas over $3.00/gallon, I think that is a steal! The prices are cheaper than Whole Foods and comparable to Trader Joe's.

Made me wonder... whatever happened to the milk man? Why did home delivery stop? Maybe because mom went to work so no one was home to accept delivery?

Baby Shortage

There is an article in Macleans (Canada) about the baby shortage in Canada (and other Western countries). Some highlights:

"...child-rearing is a multi-pronged job which, if done properly, benefits the family, the nation, and everyone in between..."

"'What's interesting about fertility and child-bearing patterns," says Ellwood, "is that high-skill women tend to have babies later and they're usually always married when they have them so there are two adults to support the child. Low-skill women tend to have children very early and they're generally unmarried so they tend to have one adult who doesn't earn very much money to support the child. Neither of these patterns is very good for society.'"

"In Italy, officials are offering a reward of $1,500 for each second child -- and even toying with the possibility of paying women not to go ahead with abortions." (Now there is a new tactic for pro-lifers!)

"Amazingly, the evidence suggests that the most successful policies have one thing in common: they don't try to pay women to procreate. Rather, they facilitate the careers of working mothers. They are premised on the idea that, the more value a society places on women's work inside and outside of the home, the more likely she is to want to contribute meaningfully in both spheres. In other words, take some of the load off of her shoulders and spread it around so that children become everybody's responsibility. Who would have thought that the most economically sound solution to a fertility crisis would be rooted in good old-fashioned feminism?"

(Ummmm... yeah.... DUH!)

"The most promising recent case study is that of France, where the government has successfully sparked a baby boom by implementing a series of extraordinarily generous benefits and incentives for parents. There is a calibrated income-tax rate for families whereby the more children a couple has, the more money they keep in their pockets. The state offers a monthly allowance of roughly $400, which is bumped up when the child reaches the age of 11. Parents are entitled to a tax deduction for in-home child care help (which Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who stepped down this week, recently announced will be doubled). There is an extensive state-run crèche system, where parents can leave their toddlers at a moment's notice, for free. Families with three or more kids are deemed "famille nombreuses" and are eligible for zero income tax, heavily subsidized rent and transportation, and state-funded parental leaves that can extend for years. They also get free access to many public amenities, and about $325 per year toward extracurricular arts and athletics programs for the kids."

(I am moving to France!!)

"'I think the countries that are doing reasonably well in Europe have an attitude that it takes a community to raise a child," says Duxbury. "The European model is, 'We have to make it possible for those people who can afford to have and raise kids to have them.' Our model in North America is, 'Well, you decided to have a child. That was your personal decision, so don't expect us to help you.' "

The great hypocrisy of this model is that we extol family values and the role of the at-home mom, says Bravo, and yet we make it virtually impossible for women who aren't independently wealthy to stay home. We expect middle- and lower-class women to work and, when it comes to parental responsibilities, we expect them to figure it out on their own dime. Then we label it a choice, so we can say, 'If she had only chosen differently, she'd have more money, and more time with her kids.'"

"Employers always say no one made you have a kid," she says. "They say, 'We've got operational responsibilities. If you can't be here for us, don't expect us to treat you the same. Don't expect to have work-life balance and be promoted and be a star.' Women have taken that to heart and they haven't had kids."

WOW is all I have to say. That is one heck of an article.... And it is right on! We are in a situation of needing more income to live on, but not wanting to put Ella in full-time daycare. If employers would be more flexible, it would be a lot easier on a lot of moms out there!

Thanks, Erin, for posting that article!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sarah: Our Super Citizen!

About a month or so ago, Sarah was honored at an all-school assembly. Sarah and only one other classmate was given a Citizenship Award. She is very bashful about sharing her award, so I'm doing it for her!

Sarah, we are so proud of you! You are a beautiful little girl and we're glad your teacher and classmates know that, too!

Rave Review

Mitch was recently honored by the Clark County School District. He was nominated by a fellow teacher, and subsequently received, a CCSD "Rave Review". You can click on the link here, scroll down and click on the link on the homepage to see his name!

We already know you are a notch above -- we're just glad everyone else does to!

Mommy and Ella

This is hands down my favorite picture yet! I am always on the OTHER side of the camera and only have a handful of pictures of Ella and me. This was taken by Scott Randolph, photographer extraordinaire. Somehow he managed to get us both looking at the camera AND smiling!

Thanks for a beautiful photo, Scott!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

This one is for Uncle Matt

Ella's first trip to Home Depot. It lasted 45 minutes longer than she would have liked, but she did love all the brigh orange.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ten Months Old!

Remember this little girl?

She is 10 months old today!

And she is a little bit bigger now....

She just learned how to clap....

And she LOVES to dance ....

And makes lots of fun faces!

Her favorite word is "mamamamama..." and she is crawling around like a pro! The other day she stood without holding on to anything for about 3 seconds.

Happy 10 Months, Ella!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

This was my first Mother's Day with Ella and she decided to spend all day with mommy showing me how much she can't be without me (even for a potty break). We dedicated Ella at church in the morning, went swimming in the afternoon and then had a special dinner of ribeye steaks on the grill in the evening. Daddy did a bang up job of cooking! Aunt Michelle joined us for dinner and brought a Dairy Queen ice cream cake -- YUM! I got a very special call from my niece, Taylor in New York. She called to wish me a very special first Mother's Day with Ella.

Unfortunately, we didn't think to get any pictures of the day. Huh. Aunt Michelle got lots at the Baby Dedication, but is putting them on a CD for me! Here are some random ones from last week. The cake and Aunt Michelle pics are from Mother's Day.

For Step-Moms: Happy Mother's Day!

My Mother's Day entry gets 2 posts. Lucky day.

I received many, many well wishes this year on my "first" Mother's Day. They were all very special and so very kind! I do not in anyway wish to appear ungrateful for any of them... but I do not consider this to be my first Mother's Day. Even though this was the first year I received a card from a child and not just my hubby and sister. Even though this year I got a cake. Even though this year people went out of their way to wish me a happy day.

My first Mother's Day was May 2004. Just a few months after I married my husband, on March 6th of that same year. On that day, I became a fully fledged step-mother. On that day a little 4 year old became "mine". Not legally, mind you, but in my heart, she was now "mine" too. Even though I share her with 3 other adults, even though she doesn't have one genetic connection to me, she is still mine. She is my one and only step-daughter and I am her one and only step-mother.

Step-mother's get the raw end of the deal. Most of us only get to "mother" our step-kids a few weeks a year or every other weekend. Most of us are not called "mom" by those kids. Most of us spend nights crying when we are hurt by the same little child we love. And the majority of us never get a card, a phone call, a gift or anything from that child on Mother's Day. They have a mother, you know. And the step-mom is is not "mom".

I know you know a step-mom somewhere in your life. So go put a note on the calendar to send her a special thank you for being there for her step-children. She may not be perfect at it, but what mother is? But the step-mom has a difficult role in life and it's not easy. It may not even be rewarding. But it's important and it's tough and most step-moms do it without a word of complaint.

To all of you step-mothers out there -- thank you for all you do. Even though no one else may know, I do. Thank you.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ella in her Fuzzis

Here she is in her "new" Fuzzi Bunz! (And a few from swimming that were still on the camera)

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