Sunday, September 28, 2014

Aria



I think pretty much everyone knows about what's going on with us right now and losing our baby girl this summer.  Here are the links to where the updates are happening:

www.arialynnrutkowski.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/babyarialynn
(You don't have to have a Facebook account to access her page)


Final

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why I'm not blogging. . .

. . .because I kind of hate it!!  I can't even tell you how much internal groaning and eye-rolling I'm doing just writing these few sentences.  But I figured I had to at least have a 2nd post this year.  So I guess I'm just writing, to say why I'm not writing?  Blech.  When I first started blogging, it was fun and cathartic.  Now it's just a burden.  Anyway, life is just so incredibly crazy busy and I never have time for casual blogging anymore.  I never feel "caught up" with all the things I need to/want to be doing, and blogging just isn't super high on the priority list. 

Things are going well with our little family. . .perhaps I'll do an update post at some point. 
Final

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bennett's Words at 18 months

I've kept a list of all the words Bennett can say ever since he started talking.  He can mimic words like crazy if we tell him to say something, but I only count it as a "real" word and put it on the list if he uses it on his own at the appropriate time.  Obviously he doesn't pronounce everything perfectly but who does at 18 months?

Anyway, Bennett has his 18 month doctor visit on Monday so I am taking his list of words.  Just in case the doctor doesn't believe me when he asks how many words Bennett can say :)  I thought I'd list them here in case anyone else is interested in seeing what words Bennett knows.  They're listed in the approximate order in which he learned them.

So here are Bennett's 42 words/phrases.  42 words. . .and "momma" is NOT one of them.  Rude!! 

hi
lights
Dada
uh-oh
thank you
no
bye-bye
all done
puppy
here you go
ball
treat
please
amen
hello
this
cheese
wow
baby
pee-pee
Bennett
where is it
outside
Red
Pocket
lotion (rub-rub)
more
off
bubble
down
pray
Ellie
boo!
where'd it go
apple
sit
trash
shoes
stairs
Lydia
Nana
again


Final

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A funny sleep deprivation story

I'm (finally) putting the finishing touches on Bennett's baby book and came across this story from when he was just a few days old.  Enjoy.


Dear Bennett,
As you might have heard, brand new moms are extremely sleep deprived.  This occasionally has some funny consequences.  The first week you were home I would let you sleep in our bed after nursing you during the night if I was too tired to take you back to your bassinet.  On this particular night I heard you start to cry so I immediately sat up and picked you up where you were lying in bed next to me.  I wanted to quiet you before you could wake up Daddy. I flipped you around to cradle you in my arms, but you were so wiggly!  I was half asleep and terrified of dropping you since I didn't feel like I had a good grip on you, so I held you tighter and tighter until you stopped fighting and were still.  As I rocked you back and forth, I started to wake up a little more and could make out your outline in the night.  I saw two little triangles on your head and was confused - we had a little red hat for you with two triangle ears but I didn't remember putting it on you to sleep in.  Then as my eyes continued to adjust to the darkness, I suddenly realized I wasn't looking at you in your hat, I was looking at. . .

. . .Pocket!  She was staring at me confused, belly-up in my arms where I had been cradling her.  You were across the room in your bassinet, sleeping quietly.  I must have dreamed the crying! I had startled Pocket by picking her up out of a sound sleep and flipping her onto her back, holding her tighter and tighter until she stopped struggling!  Poor puppy! 
Final

Saturday, December 22, 2012

West Coast Wedding: California

**note: I wrote this way back in September but just now realized it was never published. So I'm just publishing it now.
 
Mike and I both had sisters get married this year, one in California and one in New York, and they could not have been more different.  Since my own wedding I have come to learn there is a HUGE difference in how weddings are done west coast vs east coast.  It created some interesting issues when Mike and I were wedding planning but since we come from very similar families it wasn't too bad.  Of course, our wedding was also nothing like our two sisters' weddings this year.  Since Mike and I are both the oldest and the first married in our families, we had to meet certain "obligations" that come out of being the first wedding.  It's too tedious to explain but if you were also a first wedding you will understand what I mean.  Our wedding was fine I guess but if I could redo it there is hardly one single thing I would do the same, but at the time I was very young and trying to please everybody else but like I said it was fine.  It's just one day out of a lifetime.  I think our sisters were able to have a lot more control over their weddings and I hope they were happy with the way things ended up.  They were both gorgeous weddings.
 
 
Is my sister not THE most gorgeous bride you have ever seen??
My sister Kavita got married in March in California, so even though that meant that literally everyone invited had to travel we didn't mind, because who doesn't want to go to the beach in March??  Plus here to CA is cheap (but still, our sisters better appreciate the fact that we had to pay a lot of money in airfare just to attend their weddings lol)  My sister wanted to get married somewhere warm but didn't want to wait until summer here in UT.  Plus, this plan of hers had the lovely consequence of having only those people she actually cared about being there on wedding day, since people had to fly to it.  Everyone else just waited to see her at the reception in UT later on.  I love that!
 
 As I mentioned, the dinner after the wedding was held on the beach into sunset.  Free gorgeous backdrop?  Yes please!  What a way to automatically launch your wedding to the next level.

In West Coast weddings it's assumed that your sisters will be bridesmaids or recognized in some way so we let Kav dress us in what she wanted and even braved the FREEZING COLD OCEAN for pictures.  I wish I had pictures of the gorgeous cake she had at her beach dinner, although I might be biased since I'm the one who ordered and decorated it!.  It was the perfect beach cake, slathered with white chocolate flakes and decorates with starfish and seashells.
 
(To keep things chronological this above picture should have gone before the beach ones, but Blogger is being a pain about letting me drag pictures to where I want them so I'm just going to leave this where it is)
Kav got married in the morning in the San Diego Temple.  It's so gorgeous, it looks like a castle.  In our church we believe that couples have the opportunity to have their marriage last not only "until death do us part" but in heaven as well.  I'm SO PROUD of my sister for making this huge commitment and for turning her life around to be able to make this kind of decision.
 
Kavita had her UT wedding reception 2 months later so we got dressed up again (btw , BRILLIANT.  I feel like this saves SO much stress on wedding day and really wanted to have my reception on a different day from my wedding, but at the time I got married so many years ago it wasn't really "done" to have a reception more than a couple weeks past the wedding date, and since my in-laws were coming from NY it had to be wedding day or bust.)
 
I felt so bad for Kav.  One of the main reasons she waited so long to have her UT reception is that she really wanted an outdoor reception, so she thought if she waited until the end of May she'd be okay.  Sadly, Utah weather in the spring is unpredictable and of course that one day was raining and freezing even though the days leading up to it were sunny and nice.  I was the one who had to break the news to her that we would have to move the reception indoors.  She was understandably heartbroken but was a good sport about it.  So we worked like crazy people all afternoon and everything really looked quite nice.  A lot of west coast receptions are "open house" style so we were kept busy all night as people came in and out.

I love Kavita and my new brother-in-law Joey!  I don't have any brothers, so Joey you are just going to have to accept the fact that you now have 3 sisters because we're claiming you, the same way my sisters claimed Michael!  And it's awesome having another married couple in the family after a long 5 1/2 years of being the only ones married!
Final

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Halloween 2012

 
I just love Halloween.  It is by far my favorite holiday.  We aren't super into commercial Christmas or birthdays/anniversaries, but I do love Halloween.  I would love to just deck my house out from top to bottom but until I have a garage with endless storage space I'm going to have to be content being confined to the box of decorations I have.  We did have a mist pot this year so that was cool. 
 

 
I LOVE dressing up but the last couple years there hasn't really been any reason too which was sad.  Our ward doesn't allow costumes at the Halloween party which is really dumb.  Thankfully my aunt threw a big party so me and my sisters dressed up as KARDASHIAN!  Haha. 
 

The original idea was for it to be a big group costume, so Kav and her husband could be Khloe and Lamar, and then Michael and Bennett would be Scott and Mason.  Perfect, right?  We were trying to talk my dad into being Bruce Jenner (it would have been AWESOME).  But alas. . .my dad and bro-in-law were party poopers and so we decided just to do the 3 of us girls.
 


Bennett was Bam-Bam.  I wanted to make Pocket a Dino costume but ran out of time so I just used the leftover material and made some quick vests and said the pups were his "ferocious" saber toothed tigers (which is hilarious if you know our pups. . .in fact at this moment, Little Red is stretched out on my lap, belly up, snoring.  Very intimidating.)
 

 
Here's a picture of this candy corn fudge I tried to make.  I was really pleased with the way the colors came out with the dye mixes I made, but the fudge didn't set as hard as I would have liked so the edges weren't clean when I cut it.  Oh well.  It was yummy and it looked good enough that you could tell what it was.
 
As far as actual Halloween night. . .we got 113 trick-or-treaters!  It was insane!  I'm glad we counted because every year I get nervous at the last minute about running out of treats and we run out and get more.  Now we'll have a much better estimate for next year.  We always have our friends Pete and Rachel come over for Halloween.  Rachel makes a delicious stew cooked inside a pumpkin, and we make caramel apples.  Still on the search for the perfect recipe for that. . .
Final

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Crap Corner

If you're anything like me, you have a little corner in your house that is the "clutter corner."  You know, the one spot in the room or house that seems to always be disorganized.  It's the "catch-all" spot where you toss the things you mean to deal with later and then never do.  The corner that you never get around to because it's so messy you save it for last and then by the time you clean everything else you're too tired to clean it.  Your "Monica's closet," if you will.
 
I have one such spot in my kitchen.  The rest of the downstairs can be absolutely spotless but notice the arrow. . .
 
 
 Let's look at that closer, shall we?
 

YIKES!  Things have truly gotten out of hand.  This is bad even for us. . .layers upon layers of "important" things.  Well.  This week I told that counter what was what.  After Bennett went to sleep, I tackled that mess.  A few hours of sorting, organizing, and cleaning later, and. . .
 
 
Voila!  Obviously the Halloween blocks aren't there forever but I was afraid if I didn't put SOMETHING purposeful there right away we would just fill the empty space back up.  So now the counter consisters of just a few important items: a financial organizer that I keep all my bill-pay items and budget-book in, a "dump dish" (for hubby's keys/wallet/change/phone. . .I learned years ago that if there wasn't a specific place for his things they'd end up everywhere), and a basket with a few daily necessities like our phone/battery chargers, scissors, tape, and my to-do book.
 
It's been a couple weeks and the counter is still spotless (although it may just be due to fear, I was rather threatening when I was trying to emphasize the need to keep it tidy to Michael).  I've been slowly organizing every drawer and cupboard and shelf in my kitchen and living room over the last month so the downstairs is looking pretty good and organized.  Probably won't last long but it feels good for now.
Final

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bennett's Quiet Book

In anticipation of the plane ride to New York, I decided to make Bennett a quiet book for those awake times on the plane where he'd have to sit still.  I'm not really crafty in the ways of fabric but I've been doing a lot of little projects in the last few months on a borrowed sewing machine so I thought I'd attempt it.  I thought I'd put pictures of all the pages I did.
 
To those who are thinking of attempting such a thing:  Don't.  That's my advice.  Just buy one if you can.  This took way too much time and by the time it was all over it was more expensive than if I had found one online.  When I was first looking up patterns and things everyone was like "just make it out of scraps you have lying around."  Well, I don't sew, so I had no scraps.  No fabric, no buttons, no velcro, nothing.  Which made buying everything very expensive very quickly.  Of course, if you're already a pretty good seamstress and actually do have things lying around, then making your own book probably wouldn't be as big of a deal.
 
Anyway, all these little projects have definitely improved my meager sewing skills tenfold, so while I'm still not ready to sew any clothes or anything, I do have an increased confidence around a sewing machine, and that's what it's all about, right?  Plus I learned a lot about what tricks I used that worked well, and what totally bombed that I should do different if there is ever a next time.
 
Left: Brush the monster's teeth (which are foam so they don't fray).  Bennett just brushes his own teeth instead.
Right:  The wheels are buttons so he can kind of turn them.  I need to sew them on better.

Left:  Sensory page with different fun ribbons.  I think this would've been a bigger hit when he was a little younger.
Right:  Mix 'n' match animals, velcro.  I'm probably most proud of this page, it took a lot of work.

Left:  I used Pocket's old collar and leash so Bennett can actually leash the dog.
Right:  Magnetic fishing.  Bennett surprisingly LOVES this page and will spend half an hour on it.

Left:  Practicing tying a bow.  Wayyy above Bennett's head right now, obviously.
Right:  Put candles in the cake.  Real candles was a mistake.  They break and fall out easy.

Left:  Match the socks in the washing machine to it's mate!  Little old for B right now.
Right:  I sewed a little LED keychain to the inside of this rocket so the flames light up when you push it!

Left:  Monkey parachuter.  Except I still haven't got around to sewing a parachute on. . .
Right:  Fill the piggy bank!  Coins from the Dollar Store.



Left:  Tent was supposed to have a zipper, but I ran out of time.  Hugely unpopular page.
Right:  Abacus.  Bennett doesn't really get the point of it yet but maybe when he learns to count.
Final

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Obituary to my couches

This is a post about, I kid you not, the love I have for my ex-couches, which we just sold.  Michael has been wanting new couches for a long time and I finally gave in because we found a great deal on a lovely sectional.  However, I will admit to shedding some tears as I watched my old couches roll away on the back of somebody else's truck.
Allow me to reminisce for a bit about why I am so attached those couches, and it will make a little more sense.
These couches are gorgeous, no?  The perfect shade of sage green in microfiber.  I LOVED that the color made them really stand out from all the hundreds of boring looking couches we had looked at.

These couches were the first big purchase Michael and I made as a married couple.  When we first got married, our apartment was partly furnished and we had enough old furniture on our own to pretty well fill our apartment.  A year later, we both spent pretty much the entire summer recovering from major health issues and surgeries, which meant we spent A. LOT. OF. TIME. on the couches that had come with the apartment.  So once we were both recovered, we were SICK of them and got rid of them as fast as we could.  We then replaced them with these lovely sage green couches, which I searched long and hard for and knew I had found "the ones" as soon as I saw them.  Michael was out of town and I immediately sent him a text that said "FOUND COUCHES!!!"  The store was nice enough to hold them for a day so that Michael could come home and see them before we bought them.  They were delivered to our house the next day and we felt like such grownups, with this first big purchase.

We loved these couches.  We were in a student married BYU ward at the time, so nobody in the ward had nice stuff in general, so anytime people would come by we would always get a ton of compliments on the couches, the one really nice thing we owned.
A couple years later we bought our townhouse (which is a much bigger purchase than a couple of couches!) and as our old furniture wore out we've pretty much replaced everything else by now, but I still had a soft spot for these couches, especially as the years went on and we built memories in our new house, and consequently, the living room and couches.

2 month old Pocket napping in her favorite spot
 We adopted Pocket about a month after we moved in.  She was 9 weeks old and only a pound and a half. Tiny puppy = tiny hiding places. She was constantly getting stuck in the corners of the couch cushions and we'd have to help pull her out. I'll always remember the way she thought it was such a riot to run circles around the sofa, wriggling underneath it on one end, army crawling to the other side and popping out, then circling around to do it over again. For some reason she thought it was hilarious. She loved hanging out under the couch, at least until she got too big to fit. After that, her favorite activity was to curl up on the top of the backrest or side arm and take naps. 
Stuck in the cushions
Balancing on the sidearm
 
A year later we adopted Red.  She was an abused shelter dog so we were both nervous for how things were going to go.  As we walked in the front door with both puppies for the first time, the very first thing Red did was to run into the living room and snatch one of Pocket's greenie treats on the ground, then jump onto the sofa and started to "bury" it in the couch cushion.  Michael started to laugh and said, "We're going to be okay."  Red's specialty with the couch was that she would always look for the absolute softest place on it to nap.  The couch was already very cushy, but if there was a pillow or sweatshirt or dishrag even on the couch, she would make sure to curl up on that particular spot.

A year after that, Bennett was born.  I think this is where I started to really get attached to the couches, with this new influx of memory-making moments.  Our sofa is the first place I sat and nursed our baby (well, tried. . .that's another story altogether). 
 
When we brought him home from the hospital, we walked into the living room and put his carseat down between the couches.  I spent that first night home sleeping on the couch with my newborn snuggled in next to me - we started out in the bedroom, but I was afraid that Mike wasn't getting any sleep and Bennett seemed to sleep better in my arms so I took him downstairs and laid down on the couch.  In the morning, I was awakened by my mother-in-law pulling up a chair and sitting down by me asking if I wanted some breakfast.  I remember rolling over to look at her and explain why I was on the couch. 


Mike's parents meeting Bennett for the first time
Obviously, we spent a lot more time on the couches in general those first couple months since we weren't doing much more than cuddling the baby all the time.  At least half of the pictures we have of newborn Bennett were taken on the couch.  There are countless other specific memories I have of my little newborn on those couches but you get the idea.

All the little ones spent a lot of bonding time napping together on the couches.
So farewell, good couches.  Thank you for being the centerpiece of all our family-building moments.
Final

Thursday, October 4, 2012

GRAPE JUICE!!

 
 
 
I love love love homemade grape juice. My mom got her hands on some a few years back and let me bottle some and I've been addicted ever since. I've been hording my last bottle of juice for over a year because I wasn't sure when I was going to get more. Well, this was my lucky year!
 
I was so fortunate to have access to both red and white grapes this year, so I went bat-crazy picking as much as I could and spending tons of money on new jars to store it all.  I was up to my elbows in grapes for 4 days straight just picking grapes and steaming and canning them.  It takes SO LONG to steam the grapes into juice, then can the juice, but so worth it.  I wanted to build up a nice big stock in case I'm hording them for another few years!
 
My friend Lacee grew up in a house with a vine, and her mom generously let me take as much as I want, so we took our boys over and let them play while we picked grapes.  The boys had fun smooshing grapes in their hands.

After I had some of the juice canned Bennett had fun taking all the rings off the jars.  In fact, he was having a grand old time leaning over the baskets of grapes playing in them. . .until he lost his footing and fell in!  He cried for a long time - more out of fright than hurt, because the grapes provided a nice soft cushion for his head, but he did manage to juice quite a bit of grapes in the process!  Mike had to take care of him and clean him up because I was hiding in the corner laughing.  I'm pretty sure I won the Worst Mom award for that because I couldn't stop laughing at how he had looked toppling over into the basket and then covered in juice.  Poor kid. 
 
Looooving my grape juice!  Here's hoping I get to do this again next summer!

Final

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New York trip in a nutshell (minus the wedding. that's a separate post.)

 
Air travel with a mobile baby!  This is Bennett FINALLY conked out on the plane.  We took a red-eye with the hopes that he would sleep the whole time.  It was SO SMART to bring the pillow for him - we laid it across our two laps then he laid on the pillow.  He did fall asleep quickly.  The bad things were that he basically was awake until about 1am once the plane was up and going. . .he couldn't sleep before that because we had to take him out of his carseat at security and then after that the airport gate was too noisy.  And while he slept on the plane, I definitely did not since every time he moved I had to help him reposition so that he wouldn't fall off.  All in all, it wasn't too bad.  Definitely better than the long airplane ride home where I was in tears - that one was in the day so they didn't darken the cabin and Bennett had a really hard time falling asleep.

We had a 3 hour layover in the morning.  Thankfully Bennett had those few hours of sleep in him and was rested enough to be fairly content and curious.  Also our terminal had a toddler playplace which was AWESOME.  If you take a toddler to an airport I highly recommend checking to see if there is a play area somewhere nearby. 

We had brought some quiet toys for Bennett but we really wanted to save those for the plane rides where he would have to sit still.  Thankfully we had decided to bring his stroller into the airport instead of checking it in with our baggage (brilliant decision #2) and so he made up his own game of spinning the stroller in circles.

He had his grandparents wrapped around his finger from the moment we landed!  He roped Papa John into bending over and walking him around the house ALL. WEEKEND. LONG.  Poor guy probably had to go to a chiropractor after we left.


Last fall when we were there we went to LongAcre Farms (kind of like a mini Thanksgiving Point) but now Bennett was old enough to really appreciate the fun there.



Fall of 2011. . .

. . .and Fall of 2012!!


We got to see all the extended family.  Bennett loves everyone.

Playing with Nana!
Final