Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Doing What You Love

Photo by Jenny W.

As most of you know, Matt and I have become very budget-conscious the past two years, and have worked hard to eliminate our credit card debt, build up some emergency savings, and are now chipping away at my student loans.

With all this stringency, however, we've definitely taken time and money to do things we enjoy...just for the heck of it. We have date nights and enjoy a nice dinner occasionally. We relish going to the movies (using our Entertainment coupons of course). And this past weekend while my cousin Amanda was in town, we jumped at the chance to get to do all the "touristy" things that are so fun to do (more on that later).

And, at the end of February, we're packing our bags and headed to Hawaii for 6 whole days of a babymoon! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am for this! Other than our overnight stay on Bainbridge Island for our anniversary in 2009, this will be our first getaway that's for just the two of us since our honeymoon! Not that we don't love going to visit family or going to weddings, but it will be nice to have one trip before the baby arrives that will just be for us to enjoy each other's company. And I have to say, after 6 years of knowing this guy I still enjoy hanging out with him more than anyone else.

Our itinerary consists of:

Reading on the beach in the sun
Swimming in the ocean in the sun
Scanning the horizon for whales in the sun
Snorkeling around reefs in the sun
Sleeping on the sand in the sun

As you can see, we're excited to be in the sun. After months and months of wrapping ourselves in fleece and flannel and wearing two pairs of wool socks and a thermal base layer and fleece jacket in our house and sleeping with an electric blanket and watching tv swathed in a down comforter...we're a little excited to shed some layers and sunbathe.

We're from California, people, and I don't think the day I was born my skin was this fair. Its like reverse tanning. My legs may temporarily blind some of the locals in Hawaii, but they'll recover.

So yes, we're dipping a bit into our savings and are cutting back our budget this next month to pay for this trip, but that's when you have to weigh your priorities. For us, experiences are one of our top priorities. We've come to realize we want to use our "fun" money for memories that will last a long time, rather than some new physical item. When will be the next time just the two of us can sneak off to Maui? Probably not until our 20th anniversary, like my parents did! And the lovely thing is we still won't go into debt at all! See? Planning ahead does pay off!

What are your priorities? What is worth it to you to save your nickels and dimes for?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New quilt for sale at The Ruffled Owl

Head on over to check it out!

Sorry the pics are a bit blurry...its the best I can get in our basement apartment with no natural light available during hours I'm not working!

Contact me if you're interested in purchasing.

Here's a sneak preview:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hooray for Play!

Photo Credit Jonathon Isaac

I came across this article the other day in the New York Times about the importance of play.

At first I was really excited to see this! They said that the average kid spends over 7 1/2 HOURS staring at a screen! Going back to imaginative play that doesn't involve one-purpose-battery-operated toys or sitting in front of a screen? YES!

Then I realized how pathetic it was that we have to have a whole MOVEMENT to restore PLAY.

That just seems oxymoronic. Play is meant to be spontaneous, indulgent, creative! How sad that parents today don't want to deal with the mess of finger painting and building blocks and mud pies.

Maybe I have no right to say this, as technically I don't have any kids walking around and making a mess at the moment. But I think being a nanny for 4 years, some of those times being with the kids more of their waking hours than their parents were, lends me some credit. And being the nanny, you don't have the option to leave the mess until morning!

I started thinking about my childhood growing up, and how we used to play. Here's just a few of my memories:

Building forts. Lots and lots and lots of forts. In the garage, in the living room, in our bedrooms...we loved and lived in forts. Give us a sheet and some heavy books, or a big cardboard box and we were in heaven for hours. There were these big, colorful cardboard "bricks" we had and we could construct walls to keep out evil intruders. We even got to do sleepovers in them sometimes...which was beyond cool.

Dress up. Coming from parents who both majored in theater we had an ample supply of dress up clothes...and accessories to boot! When we were about 3, my best friend Chad and I would constantly have some sort of costume on. Mine usually involved a bridal veil and his always included a tutu and one sparkly glove -- Michael Jackson-style.

My brother, our neighbor across the street and I started a club. We met on our balcony, saved our quarters and bought some goldfish as mascots, decorated our bikes for the fourth of July parade, went caroling during Christmas, and developed a plan to save the world. I think I still have the outline somewhere...

We built huge marble shoot tracks that spanned from my brother's bunk bed to the door. I planted in my garden that was a whopping four square feet. We swam in our pool until our hair turned green. We had lots of crafty-toys like a mini potter's wheel (never made anything worthwhile but it was sure fun!), a paint-gyroscope thingy, Lincoln logs, legos, bead looms, chemistry sets, an Easy Bake oven and a homemade perfume mixer.

My mom would make play dough on the stove top, we played slip 'n' slide in the yard, I made mini schoolbooks for my dolls and taught them lessons, and my brother would do crazy gymnastics on a giant red bouncy ball.

It wasn't like we were a no-TV household. On the contrary, just about every night our whole family would watch something together. Its still one of our favorite things to do as a family, because we discuss whatever we're watching all the way through and afterwards (True Grit over Christmas provided a LOT of discussion!).

But I think the proportions were a lot different than they are today. We spent 7 1/2 hours playing instead of playing Nintendo or being on the computer or watching TV.

All that to say I'm glad I played a lot growing up. And I think its good to still play as an adult.

Last night I took Roy for a walk while it was snowing fast and thick. I skidded in my galoshes as he romped around, taking a running scoop of snow into his mouth that sent him into sprints of ecstasy...and dragged me along for the ride! We spun and ran and frolicked and for awhile I felt about 7 years old again.

So go play today. And let your kids play. And then teach them to clean up the mess, hah!