This is where I would normally….

be shouting that the fondant is coming!!!!! But I have decided to take a DYI approach instead of outsourcing to Etsy…… It’s been fun and frustrating! I’m not doing the paper cutouts or printables… But I am playing with food!!!!!  

Elsa wands!, fondant snowflakes with luster dust and sprinkles and candy coated Oreos!!!!! The birthday girl has talked me into attempting a tiered cake…. We are all a little scared! Lol… Baking will start Wednesday night! Whoo hoooo! 

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This is why we don’t do themed parties anymore

So… We haven’t do a themed party in over 2 years…. Because… Well.. Because I can do a bit over-the-top…… But this year our daughter is in school and family is coming from CA and her cousins were talking about not really remembering celebrating a birthday…. And it’s not a party without a bounce house and if you are getting a bounce house… Might as well invite her entire class!
We may have turned Pinterest into a morning routine with coffee… And for the record… I’m so glad it was *just* starting as or crazy party days were coming to an end…. Because I have said that we are NOT pulling out Christmas lights….. (And I might secretly be trying to still convince myself of that)……. Because I am TRYING to keep this less than crazy to enjoy the day and not be frazzled by set-up and prep (did I mentioned I let myself get roped into attempting a 3 tier cake for the first time??)……..

We are trying to keep the budget low and the fun high….. But when the 5yr old practically begs for a pin the nose on Olaf game… And because you are not artistically inclined.. You argue with staples that this is in fact legal to print… And because daddy adores his baby girl…. Things like this make me smile and giggle… Because honestly… I go over the top for the smiles and excitement from the kids…… Stayed tuned because I’m guessing we will have big smiles soon!

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Moving – Santa Cruz, CA to Horseheads, NY

Moving – Santa Cruz, CA to Horseheads, NY


So the thing about this type of move… it’s CRAZY.. but the payoff can be big!


Eric and I have talked about the idea of relocating for a couple of years.. typically, after a visit back east to visit his family and not dealing with traffic for 2 weeks and looking at the real estate market.. But it’s never been quite right… we weren’t in the right space as a couple of financially or even with work…


But this past summer – so many things were different.. and I think that we looked at each other and knew that the timing was right to seriously think about the details and logistics and how we would make this cross-country move with our kids, house and stuff…


We were in an incredible space with us and the kids and we started to research moving companies and the job market.  It was over-whelming on so many levels…. But we kept focused on the bigger picture and started to weed out stuff… yard sales, good will, craigslist… we were making a change and it was time to de-clutter…


We started to talk to moving companies and were shocked…. We ended up settling on one that was not your local brand name, but wasn’t the bottom of the pile either… we had heard that all moving companies suck.. so we figured if we went with “middle of the road” all would be okay… it wasn’t.. but we will get there…


We started to think about timing for Eric’s work… it needed to be Spring so that the likelihood of him finding work would be higher.. and honestly.. I don’t think he wanted to take my flip-flopping wearing self and put me someplace that had snow on the ground in March/April.. which worked for me..


I started to look around for work in the local area but really wanted to stay connected to Silicon Valley – I knew that moving would change the course of my career… which would be fine.. My goals no longer include being a VP of Talent Acquisition.. I want to make a solid living for my family.. but I am unwilling to be away from them for 70-90hrs a week…


I was approached by a company who I had previously spoken with and took the straight forward and honest approach.. We wanted to move and I needed a company who would be willing to have me work remote… They worked hard to bring an offer to the table… but I tend to be extremely loyal and I LOVE my current company and team.  I approached my manager and broke into tears (seriously.. I love my team).. and I told her that I wasn’t giving notice.. but I was letting her know that it could be coming… She is not only my manager but someone I consider a friend…. I wasn’t making a play for a counter offer.. I was just really torn… which is funny, considering what I do for a living.. but I don’t negotiate for myself.. I just talk straight….Eric and I talked about it.. and decided that if my current company wanted to keep me onboard, that it would probably make the most sense… I don’t like change and trying to manage a HUGE life change, along with a company change may seriously through me over the edge and land me in the looney bin…. I am still amazed at how it all worked out.. but I stayed with my current company and we set a tentative move date for the end of March.


As if all of this wasn’t insane enough… we signed up Eric for his first Ironman event – in Mexico – In March!!!! And we planned on taking all the kids…. So while trying to reduce our stuff and plan this trip.. Eric was in major training mode…

We had talked about getting married and making everything official but were pretty focused on the task at hand in terms of moving… of course, that didn’t stop Eric from hitting his knee and proposing on my birthday (December 1st).. and after a lot of talking and thinking.. we decided to get married before we moved… Santa Cruz is my home town and the place that we met and helped us create the life we had together… and considering that our families are on two separate coasts.. there was not a good medium.. and we knew that we would be keeping it small (see previous posts)….


We approached the past several months by event and by each task.. to approach it as a whole, was terrifying…


So we focused… on Erics Coast ride…. Eric’s trip back east to look for a place for us to live… On our wedding…. On Mexico…. This helped us get through those weeks… and through it all we were getting rid of items and trying to pack what we could.. but honestly.. between work and all of these life changing events.. it was tough.. Eric was also dissolving his company and we were both coming to terms of leaving two of our children behind… not for good.. and we have a plan for them… but its still an indescribable feeling… and for me… I had never lived anywhere other than Santa Cruz… Preschool to College to professional career.. its been my home for 35yrs.. its where my family is from and its where my parents came to give me the hometown they always wanted… and here I was.. leaving..


Our plan was to take the kids to Mexico for Ironman, give us all a few days together as a family and then come home and pack.. We would have a week before Eric was supposed to get on the road.


The original plan had us all driving across the country together…. But after a family trip to Lake Tahoe with the little kids.. we quickly had to come up with a new plan… There was no way the 1yr old or 3.5yr old could hang in their car seat for 8-10hrs a day.. times 6 days….


So it was decided that Amber, Eric’s 15yr old, would drive with him over her Spring break and the little ones and I would fly back a few weeks later… This would allow Eric to get across the country and get the house ready for us.


On Eric’s trip back east. He looked at his grandparents house, which has been sitting vacant for a year.. and we decided that we could rent the property for 6-8months and then look into buying it… The upside – it’s a home that holds so many memories for him and his childhood and sorta embodies the feel of this place… It sits on 2 acres and has a lot of potential for our family.  The downside, its been empty for a year and needed a lot of work..


We decided that while it wasn’t currently perfect for us.. it could be and decided to move forward and plan on moving in the first week of April – or whenever Eric arrived. 


We refocused on the wedding and enjoyed those moments with our CA family and friends (see blog post).. and then switched the focus to Mexico and getting Eric through his first Ironman (THAT post is coming)….


The plan was to come home and spend that weekend packing as quickly as possible.. unfortunately, things never go quiet according to plan… Alex had started to throw up in Mexico towards the end of the week, and we assumed it was either something he ate or was fighting a bug… but everyone else appeared to be fine… Until the Saturday that we were back – My mom was watching the girls for us that afternoon and Madison started to throw up.. we managed and my family stepped up to help us.. the problem was… that I got hit harder than I had been in a very long time.  I was incredibly ill.. I dragged myself to the office on Monday and was promptly sent home – it was the WORST timing ever!!!!


Eric has wrapped up his work prior to Mexico and we figured he would be doing most of the packing.. but not like this… He was awesome though and made the move possible.., especially considering that I could barely get out of bed.


Friday, March 29th arrived and Madison was feeling much better and I was on the upswing.. we took the girls to daycare and anxiously awaited our movers.. who were due to arrive at 7am…. By 9am the stories started about being stuck in an inspection point… after numerous calls and the blood pressure rising… we decided that Eric and Amber would start on their journey and I would stay and deal with the movers… we figured they would be there in good time and we would be back on track…. Little did we know that it would all fall apart at the seams…. Which continued our stress-feast….


We were told numerous times that they would be there.. they were getting released.. but it was looking like 6pm+….


So I scrambled and arranged for my sister to pick up the girls from daycare, while my mom and I would wait for the movers… by 8pm… We were told they would be there within an hour.. and I had to call my dad to come and wait with me so that my mom could get the girls and put them to bed… It would be the first time that anyone would put Madison to sleep, other than Eric or I.. and I was thankful for our sleep training….


My dad arrived and my mom went and handled the girls.. and I dealt with the movers.. who FINALLY arrived at 10pm at night.. in a neat-up, old, BUDGET moving truck… I literally laughed out loud and said “Are you fucking kidding me?”.. and to be honest.. my red flags were up ALL.OVER.THE.PLACE… but I was exhausted.. I was sick… and I knew that any other options would cost us more and I was ready to be done with this part.


The driver walked in and started to talk about how the load was MUCH larger than what he was told.. and he had to call his supervisor and they didn’t have room in their truck, etc.. and I could feel myself starting to loose it…. I KNEW what they were doing…. I KNEW they wanted us backed into a corner… but I was trying to remember that they had moved a co-worker of mine and he got his stuff… and I was prepared for this little game, as they pulled it on him.


I talked to the new supervisor and explained that we had a binding agreement that was based on weight and not volume and while I didn’t do this as a profession.. I was SURE it was not the 20k lbs they were trying to say that it was… We sold our table and couches and most of our large furniture… I KNEW they were trying to bully me…We went back and forth until I talked to my original contact…. Who did the whole “Let me see what I can do, etc..”.. and came back with a price that was significantly higher.. yet.. still lower than some of our other quotes… I told them to write up the new contract and Eric and I agreed to suck it up and go with this new price… but neither of us felt good about it…  


Honestly.. I just wanted them to take our stuff and be gone.. which is the WRONG attitude.. but after the day and week we had.. I just wanted it to be headed to NYS.


When I sat down to sign the new contract, as I was reading it – I realized that the insurance they had “claimed” was included… was actually not to cover our stuff.. only if something happened to their truck, like an accident, or something.. .but that essentially we had NO coverage on our items.. I literally go up from the table and knew that this was a bad idea… but I was fighting my gut instinct.


My sister and BIL were checking in with me the entire time and I think my BIL could hear it in my voice and called a friend of his who had owned a moving company for 20yrs… Jim arrived at our house at 11pm and pretty much walked in like the town Sheriff… He didn’t need all the details to know what these guys were doing… and he essentially chased them out and told me that it would be a BAD IDEA to send our stuff with them.


I literally lost it.. and burst into tears.. I knew he was right but I also knew that we couldn’t afford to go a different way and I envisioned Eric half way across the country and the girls and I in SC with a bunch of boxes and no place to live.. yes.. I am being dramatic.. but I was sooo overwhelmed and wished that Eric was there and had no idea what we were going to do.


Jim said he would make a few calls and help me find someone to come out and do an estimate.. I made a few calls and basically had to lock up the house for the night and head to my moms. 


I woke up the next morning and we had Atlas Vanlines coming to do an estimate – I was thankful to have Jim in our corner but didn’t know what to expect… I laughed.. feeling sad that all of the discounts I had worked so hard for, went down the drain.. but then again, realized that they were just handing them out because they knew what they were doing.


We had several people from craigslist picking up items and at least I knew I was clearing out the house – especially since I had to push out our exit date by a week.


Atlas showed up and were very nice and we later learned that Jim really asked them to give us the best deal they could… it was still high and essentially  twice the amount we were going to pay before and after the discounts and deposit, about 3 times as we were expecting to pay.. my dad came to the rescue with a loan – which meant we could schedule the pickup and get back on track… THANK GOD.


My mom and I spent the weekend cleaning up the house and getting the people from Craigslist to pick up everything.


And.. we got the new pickup date from the movers for Tuesday…


I managed to get healthy… manage the kids and work and with the help of my family… we got all of our stuff on the moving truck that Tuesday.. scheduled the carpet cleaners and house cleaners and got our deposit back… It was a week of insanity… and in some ways I was glad that I was dealing with the stress of it.. because if my husband doesn’t deal well with something.. its CLUSTERS.. I mean.. neither of us do.. but I tend to be a tad calmer in these moments…


In the meantime… Eric and Amber were making awesome time and enjoying the time together… They landed in NY about 3 days ahead of schedule. Which meant that Amber got to see her east coast family and the house… She helped Eric pick out paint and start on the house…



Eric and his family worked their butts off getting it clean, painted and the bathroom remodeled to be in working order… and I knew that Eric was in a world of his own in terms of stress…


Those 4 weeks of separation were extremely difficult for us.  We were 3,000 miles apart and trying to stay connected in the midst of Eric working 10-12hr days and making all the decisions about the house for us… and me being a single parent, managing the kids, working and all the last minute items for CA….tying up our apartment and still trying to manage staying connected as a couple.  We got creative and some days were easier than others… I do think it was probably good for us to each have a few weeks with our families.. without our family.. if that makes sense?


I had more dinners with my parents and my sisters family, than I had in years.. we were cramming in time with the girls and it was a double edge sword.  The kids were getting more attached to their CA family and we were all making time for each other.. but its because it would be coming to an end.. I gained 8lbs eating out and drinking with my dad and friends… but I will cherish those moments… and Eric got to be around his family for more than 2 days.. just him.. no distractions from me or the girls.. just him.. and I am sure that it helped re-solidify his bonds,, because he had been away from home for over 20yrs.


Once the apartment was cleaned and our deposit was returned.. I felt like I had a week or two to breathe.. I was focused on work and making sure that everyone knew about the move and that I would still be supporting them and reachable…


Eric was still working his tail-off and I was sooo extremely thankful for him and for the foundation we had created together.. because without that… I am not sure we would have made it those last few weeks… it was REALLY HARD.. to be managing two separate households and our own stresses and fears….


Wednesday was my last day in the office and I got to bring Alex back to SC with me… Thursday, I was working from home and my mom and dad would be getting to spend some time with him during my meetings and calls.. this meant that I got extra cuddle time with him.  I had created a photo book for him that included photos of us from the moment he was born, as well as photos with him and Eric, Amber, the girls and all of my family.. including our time in NY.. Eric and I wanted him to know how much we love him and how much apart of this move he is.. that this move is for our family… even if he will still be going to school in CA…


Before we knew it.. it was our travel day… I had packed up our suitcases.. gotten the cat ready for her trip and my dad arrived at 5am and we were off…


Both of my parents took us to the airport to see us off… we unloaded the bags and came to find that Ayla, our cat, had not faired the trip over Hwy 17 well.. My parents took her to get cleaned up.. and then it was check-in time… THANK GOODNESS we got their early because checking in the cat was much more of a PITA than I realized… we got our bags situated and they looked over her health certificate, had TSA examine her and by the time it was said and done.. it was time to hit the security line.


We got through it and then it was time to say goodbye… there were lots of tears and hugs and kisses.. but at least I knew that my mom and Alex would be coming in about 6weeks and we would have to work on my dad….


Because we were holding up the line we had to go and then it was the shuffle of getting the girls and I through security… Thankgoodness for my Ergo and for the girls being so good.. they were excited to know we were headed towards Daddy, as was I.


We got to the gate and literally boarded within 5 mins… I was grateful for the hundreds of army personnel on our flight.. and thank goodness, the ones near us liked kids… Madison finally fell asleep, after fighting it for an hour – just in time for Mackenzie to tell me she had to go potty.. I was able to leave Madison asleep on the seat – with a watchful eye, while I dealt with her sister..


We arrived in Detroit and made a mad dash to our gate and got there with 2 mins to spare… it was hectic and crazy but I knew my husband was waiting on the other side and we would all be together shortly.

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Life has been CRA.ZY

So back in May I started a draft of the over-view from IM Los Cabos and our move and somehow we are now in mid-august… to say that life has been insane is an understatement.

According to our plans from months and months ago – we would be getting ready to load up the van and family and head to Canada for IM Mount Tremblanc…. Unfortunately… life has totally gotten in the way and we made the call to make sure that Eric didn’t get hurt… I am sure it will make it onto the race schedule at some point.. but not for this year…

The cross country move took more out of Eric and I then we could have ever imagined… I don’t think he has re-gained his restful self.. though I am not sure that he has been fully “rested” in years.. LOL… between getting the house livable, the separation due to the move, the figuring out the new routine with work – only to have the carpet pulled out from under us and have me be part of a reduction in force – has continued to keep our world spinning a little off kilter.

Eric has committed to staying with his coach but concentrating on another 70.3 closer to home.. this will keep his fitness up and the financial cost down. Having him not train the past couple of months has been a double edged sword. The kids and I have LOVED having him at home and being able to do family focused things instead of having our day scheduled around his 5hr bike ride and 2hr runs.. but.. I can tell that something is missing for him… his stress levels are up (which I can totally relate to – new town, new routines, more family, etc…) and his outlet is missing…. So I am trying to provide the support for his training to come back into full swing… while remembering that his training schedule was a bit crazy but in a lot of ways it brought us all closer together and provided healthy results for all of us…

Being the support team for a triathlete is tough… you often have contradicting emotions… you want your athlete home with you and your family – you enjoy the extra energy in the evenings ;-p but yet.. you want them to be happy and healthy and doing what they love… and lets be honest… you cant be a triathlete without loving the pain, the training and the results….

So I will be on the search for a local 70.3 and will start to make sure the chicken breasts are cooked.. the SAG support team is out on the weekends and try to still carve out that evening time for just us… at least on the nights that he is not passed out by 9pm 🙂

More will be coming.. but I’m not committing to when… I enjoy blogging but like everything.. it has an ebb and flow and there will be time for it eventually.

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A case of the “WANTS”…

So I have a major case of the “WANTS” and its not even for me right now… well.. I have my own list – but we won’t even go there right now.. LOL


I am craving an awesome backyard for our kids…


For the first time in my life we have space for the kids to run… I mean.. REAL SPACE… 2 acres of space….


Having grown up in Santa Cruz, CA – we had the beach and fields and all sorts of things when I was a kid.. but those spaces became harder to come by and you could never have that type of space for yourself…. Or not without a pretty penny being spent…


And its funny how your perspective changes.  I told Eric the other day that its amazing how quickly 2 acres can start to feel small – when you start thinking about a garden and an area for the kids and maybe a barn and horses one day.. all of the sudden you want 5-10 usable acres.. LOL


So… we have been talking about getting the kids a swing set… something to harness their energy and give them something to really do outside.. because they LOVE being outside here….


And of course in this day and age of pinterest – you see all sorts of crazy (and AWESOME) things for kids… but lets be realistic.. if we had 5-10k to spend.. the house would be getting new siding and windows or momma would be getting a new kitchen with a DISHWASHER.. but I digress because that is on my list of wants… LOL



So.. While looking at things.. I have tried to be realistic.. and while the $600.00 swing set, along with the $400.00 clubhouse from Sam’s club would rock… again.. I am TRYING to be frugal and come up with an awesome plan…


Here is what I want.. and it will still take some time.. because let me tell you people.. MOVING ACROSS COUNTRY sucks! And is very expensive – but it has been well worth it…


So first up…


THIS – for the kids.  A club house/playhouse…. I am also thinking that eventually a little deck could be added on the back or side.. along with an actual white picket fence and maybe an area for the kids garden… like a place for them to dig and plant and be responsible – and not have us freak out if they dig up a bulb or whatever…. And right now for $250.00 – I think that is a pretty good deal.. even if Daddy has to add a floor… I still think this is cheaper than making daddy buy the lumber and actually build them a little house… which would be awesome.. but.. trying to be realistic.. and 10hrs will be tough to come by to put it together.. not sure Eric wants to spend 40+hrs on new construction for the kids 😉


And next up is the swing set… and I am having a hell of a time deciding between these 3… they all only differ in price by about $50.00 total… and yes.. I looked into the ones that had the clubhouse incorporated – but the price point shoots up A LOT….


And we need something that will work for a few years and right now.. the ages of the players will be 7yrs – 16months.. so it has to work for everyone.. and for a number of years….



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Then of course.. I see a little path of stones painted in glow in the dark paint and all the pinterest tricks we can do.. with fairy doors into tree trunks, etc.. I want to create a magical, fun place for their imaginations to go wild.. while giving them something productive to do and safe…When I grew up I played in my dad’s gardens and the forests and dirt roads when we lived… it was amazing and I remember telling my tales of the fairies in the flowers and being able to identify the edible plants and loving every moment of the country life… Eric and I moved our family for those same reasons and now with this land… I think being able to give them a corner of the yard will be magical… and I guess.. it is on MY LIST OF WANTS.. but for them….


So.. any thoughts on the swing set choices?


We are TRYING very hard to keep it under $400.00 and while it would be awesome to be even lower… I don’t want to get something.. only to be sad that it wasn’t the right one… but that being said.. we can’t go out and spend $800.00 either… LOL.. Moderation people.. its not my strong suite., but I am trying!

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February 9th, 2013 – The day we made it official

Family Shot by Tim Cattera

February 9th, 2013.. The day we made it official

On June 1st – almost 6yrs ago… I fell in love with a man I had know for a very long time.. A man I NEVER would had guessed would BE THE ONE for me….By acknowledging that I was indeed in love with him – would create a lot of lessons, decisions, joy and even sadness.. it was an incredibly long journey to get to that June 1st… and the years that would follow, would in many ways, seem even longer.

But somehow… through all of our lessons and journeys.. I found him on one knee in front of me on December 1st, 2012…. with our kids by our sides… I proclaimed YES! and so it would be… We decided to make it official before our big move… and added the planning of a wedding into the mix… so we did just that… We planned a very small and intimate wedding that would take place about 2.5months later.

For those of you who have not followed along or have forgotten.. we decided to get engaged, get married, have Eric finish his first Ironman and move across the country with our kids – in a 3month timeframe… Yes.. we are crazy!

So off we went to planning.. and our wedding is a testament to our family, friends and our commitment to each other.

We tossed around the idea of eloping.. but after our journey – we wanted to celebrate that.. but because we had a few big ticket items coming (a family trip to Mexico and a move).. we had to be realistic about our budget….

We first had to tackle the location… The venues in Santa Cruz offer some very nice options… but most come with a hefty site fee… even the ones I got to reduce their fee’s actually exceeded our budget before we ever got started… then a very good friend of ours came to the rescue and offered her house to us…. and her house came with a separate party room… so then it was guest list time… we decided that while we typically liked and wanted to invite everyone.. we just couldn’t… due to budget.. size of location and we still decided that this would be okay.. if we included our immediate friends and family… we hoped that everyone else would understand…..

Next up was finding vendors who could work with our budget and vision… I started with caterers because I know that was going to be the bulk of our expense…. We wanted simple… healthy and easy.. we contemplated BBQ’ing but didn’t want to add a ton of work to anyone’s plate.. and yet.. we needed to follow Eric’s eating plan since his Ironman would only be a month away… not to mention that I don’t eat meat… LOL

We went back and forth with a few and ended up going with Caterman Catering out of San Jose. We agreed to a simple grilled Chicken Breast, Pasta with a choice of sauces, grilled veggies and rolls. One of our good friends created fabulous salads as a gift to us. We choose two appetizers (along with fresh fruit and veggies) – Buffalo chicken bites to represent Eric and Puff pastry filled with cheese and nuts for me.. Simple, yet a variety that would encompass all of our guests – including the kids.

We had about 50 people total.. 30-ish adults and 20-ish kids.. give or take 🙂

We decided that due to the weather we would set up the reception inside the party room.. and while we were worried about it being cramped.. we decided it was okay to be cozy… We had gotten round tables and had been told that we could sit 10 per table.. the day before the wedding as we were setting up.. it was clear that NO WAY would we be fit 10 per table and some shuffling happened last minute.. with an addition of a kids table in the middle of the room… which did seem to close it in a bit.. but it was better than putting people on top of each other…as it was going to be close anyways.

For décor we went SUPER SIMPLE… white linens with an off-white/ivory lace runner.. We went with ivory napkins to coordinate and play off the different shades of whites and ivories. For centerpieces, we had 3 various sizes of Mason Jars with candles – accented by votives.. and our florist threw in some rose petals for each table.. We decided to go simple and chic.. it kept our costs down – as well as set-up and clean-up times. I am not a HUGE fan of assigned seating.. but I quickly realized that the room was going to be incredible full and I felt that if people knew where to go and sit – it would be less stressful… so we took an 8oz mason jar – added a cute purple and white paper straw (off and tied a natural tag with purple ribbon(under 5.00 total from Michaels and we had some left over)… I hand wrote everyone’s name and all of the sudden we had name cards and a favor! (not bad considering we weren’t going to do either).

Wedding colors…. I think this was the biggest indication that my control-freak-over-the-top-detailed-self had grown up… I pictured chocolate browns and soft pink peonies for this day.. very Southern wedding feeling… In my ideal world – we would have gotten married in an old wooden barn with twinkle lights all over the place and gushing with flowers… Pink Peonies remind me of us…. I thought the softness would go well with my gown and even though we were going low key – my gown was sorta blingey – but very much me…. I had gotten incredibly lucky on my dress…. I went to Bridal Veil in Capitola, CA and I had known Lisa, the owner for years.. My sister and I had modeled in our teen years and my sister had purchased her wedding dress from her. I knew that I didn’t have the 6 month ordering time and I needed something off the rack… I also knew that I didn’t want to spend a crazy amount… so I went in with a challenge for her… I needed something off the rack.. something that was close to fitting and something in the $500.00 price range… I told her $500-1000 but really wanted to stay as close to $500.00 as possible… and oh yeah.. and it had to be perfect!

This would be the second marriage for both of us and while I believe that we both had our priorities in line – with wanting a solid and amazing marriage and not so much a perfect wedding… but, we also had the feeling that if we were going to do it – we wanted to do it right….

I tried on a few dresses and we established that while we would be having a backyard wedding (or a court-house one, as we had not fully established the where yet) – I was still very much drawn to A-line, strapless and feeling like a princess… I wanted to take Eric’s breath away…. After we had tried on a few things.. Lisa said she wanted to grab a gown that she had in storage for a while – and it was from an old, discontinued line but wanted to see what I thought…..I slipped it on and it was perfect… I about fainted when she told me the cost – that would come in BELOW my $500.00 budget… but I didn’t want to love it because of the price… so we wrote down my top 3 and decided I would come back with my mom and sister in tow…. once that happened.. they both loved the same dress… and I hemmed and hawed over changing the ribbon and making it look more deconstructed and changing out the brooch.. but at the end of the day.. its not where I wanted to spend $$.

Because of the taupe/tea stained colors – we wanted to go with a chocolate brown…. yet – we didn’t really want to have my sister and soon-to-be-step daughter, spend over $200.00 for a dress they would wear once… lesson learned here…. we searched and searched and ordered one offline for both of them… only to have them arrive and BE AWFUL.. in cut and fit…. We decided with a few weeks to go to make a girls day of it and head over to SJ.. thinking that winter formal time would produce a ton of chocolate brown options… we spent hours only to come up short and ended up at David’s Bridal.. THANK GOODNESS…. we went through the entire store and once we realized that chocolate brown was out.. it was all about finding two dresses in the same color/fabric and style that would fit each of them…. We tried every shade of blue (Eric’s favorite color) and then had to move to ANY color in the store.. .and settled on Plum Purple – which ended up being perfect….Grabbed the dresses off the rack and found shoes…. We had the baby with us and she was passed out and afterwards, we realized I never stood up next to the girls.. my “little” sister is 5″11 and I typically try to put her in flats when we are together.. since I am only 5’7.. but somehow – the heels I picked out for them were 3” platforms… again.. just goes to show how much more relaxed I am/was with everything.. knowing that this was the absolute right thing.. deep down….

We headed home and then it was off to talk to the florist and tell him we had totally changed the colors.

We went with Rick James from FVJ Luxuries (… My sister had worked with him on a number of corporate events – so I reached out and had a GREAT conversation with him… and didn’t freak him out with our budget.. or lack of.. I had a few tell me there was no way they could do it.. I had a number of people never call me back and I knew that realistically.. I couldn’t take on doing the flowers… I told Rick that we had a firm budget of $300.00 – and I needed a bridal bouquet, 3 BM bouquet’s, 2 boutonnieres, a flower girl basket, and something for the arch….He didn’t laugh – and that was good since I could barely say it with a straight face… I still chuckle… I told him my vision but essentially showed him my dress.. the girls dresses and talked about décor and told him I would trust him… no carnations, no daisy’s and no succulent’s. Rick met with Eric and I at the location once and again with me later on…. he assured me that he would rock it.. and better yet – would make sure that we had a toss bouquet, petals for the tables and flowers for the top of the cake…. He also said he would get there early to help hang lanterns…..

Next up was the cake…. We are blessed with having very talented friends… I had reached out to two of them, who do cakes to ask for a quote… I never really got a straight answer from one and after thinking about it – went with Stephanie, who would also be marrying us…. We sat down one afternoon and looked through my pinterest folder and the details… and again.. we essentially left it up to her… we went with chocolate and vanilla cake with whipped cream filling (Eric’s favorite) and the design would be up to her.. though we loosely talked about it… Stephanie, also happens to be the MOST ARTISTIC and CRAFTY person you will ever meet! We had talked about the mason jars and how Rick James suggested making them hang to hang them fro the giant oak in the backyard… and I loved the idea.. but with kids at home.. a full time job and less than a month – I wasn’t sure how crafty I was going to get…. So she gave me a quick tutorial and we decided the hanging lanterns were totally doable… LOL

Eric had his coast ride coming up – where he would be riding his bike from North of SF, down to Santa Monica and we would stay with him the first night and meet him the second night… there also happened to be a Wal-Mart in Sand City, where we would be meeting him… so I grabbed a few cases of different sized mason jars and a few different shades of purple ribbon…. and figured we would be good to go on décor.

I also needed to find flower girl dresses for our 3yr old and 1yr old.. and again.. we didn’t want to spend a crazy amount… I had started to look while we still believed that we were going with chocolate brown. I found a great vendor on ebay and the ivory dresses with chocolate brown sashes would be 25-27.00 each… I thought they may run big but figured we would deal with it…. They arrived and were beyond cute!!!! and better yet… when our colors changed – I was able to send back the sashes and they sent me new plum purple ones. As we got closer to the day.. we tried the FG dresses on and realized that both needed to be altered… of course… I had just had my first alteration session and about passed out when I was told that the cost to hem and take in the waist was going to cost as much or more than the actual dress… so I was panicked… but alas… remember.. Stephanie is the most creative and crafty person that I know.. so I called her and asked if she could hem the girls dresses… She said she never had done anything like that but we would come up with a plan… and she did.. and she rocked it!!!!! and it was perfect and showed off their gold glitter shoes perfectly… because our girls are total princesses and Mackenzie – our now 4yr old was beyond excited for our wedding day…It was really as much about the kids as it was about us.. There is something very special about having your kids standing next to you on your wedding day.. it reminds you how much is at stake and I firmly believe that this foundation we have set – will help us weather everything that will come our way…

Now it was just about bringing everything together…. We spent a few days wiring the mason jars that would be hanging from the trees and then tying different ribbons to them (My sister and Monisha were such huge helps here!!! And while we got it done.. it was not as easy as Pinterest or Stephanie may it out to be.. LOL).. We tied the ribbon for the mason jars that would be hanging from the sheppard hooks for the aisle… and we even found putty/modeling clay to stick to the bottom of the votives so that they wouldn’t tip over in the mason jars (Thank you to Maya, Monisha’s daughter for helping us out here)…As we were coming up to the big day – an old friend of my sisters and mine, who had just gotten married in Hawaii offered up her white and purple paper lanterns for us to use.. and THANK GOODNESS because they really made the décor and brought everything together.. especially when we figured out that hanging the mason jar lanterns were going to be rough (or Monish, Patrick and Jarrod realized it as they were setting everything up).

It was then time for Eric and Alex to get fitted for their tuxes and for Eric to pick out what he wanted… we figured that he would be going with a champagne color to accent my dress… but my husband is a bit of a redneck… and I say that in the most loving of terms… and he sorta fell in love with the MOSSY OAK aka CAMOFLAGE tuxedo vest….and here is the thing… I decided that it was a day for both of us.. and he was lucky that the greens and browns would work with my dress ;-).. Lisa at Bridal Veil was great and actually ordered him 3! one black, one mossy oak and a champagne color… and said we could switch them out, etc….. but you know what… it was perfect! Eric wore his tux and looked amazing and took my breathe away.. camo vest and all 🙂 our wedding was going to be very much about us and our family… I did draw the line at the orange vest though ;-).. We put Alex in a purple vest to coordinate with the girls… and poor guy.. on the wedding day, he REALLY wanted a camo vest, just like Eric..

and once again… everything works out for a reason.. we came to find out that Eric’s older sister would be making the trip from the East Coast to share in our day – which was amazing and unexpected.. because we would be moving shortly and our engagement was just over 2months long – we didn’t want any of our family members to feel obligated or have to spend a large amount of money for a few hours.. but we were honored that Melissa was making the trip.. and Eric asked her to stand up next to him and be his “Best Woman”.. and lucky for us.. there was a David’s in her neck of the woods and not only did they have a dress that fit her in the right color.. they had the right dress.. and the Davids near us – happened to have her shoes… I’m telling you… it all happens for a reason…

It was all coming together and I was giddy with excitement – knowing that I was going to marry my best friend and father to two of my children…. The rest was going to be “extra”… though.. I was still able to make an apt at MAC for makeup on the day of the wedding and with my good friend, Julie Chimel at KATWALK for all of our hair to be done….She is incredible!

Before we knew it – the day before the wedding was here.. Melissa, Eric’s sister had arrived and we started to set-up the location…

We quickly realized the issue with the tables – and I think that Eric started to get stressed about the space and it was my first and only freak out moment and I tried to come up with a new plan.. what resulted was a rectangular kids table – for the older kids – Luckily.. we had enough of everything to make it work.. and while it made the room more cramped… we pulled it out right after dinner…

We made it work – with only a few tears… LOL and we were off for the evening!

That evening we got all the last minute items together for my bag, Eric’s bag and the girls bags – since they would be spending the night with their daycare lady! (Such a great wedding gift.. as it would be our first night without the kids in well over a year).

We all got up in the morning and Eric made us all breakfast and we loaded up the van and off I went to the hair salon – Eric, his sister and Amber watched the kids…. I was met at the salon by my sister, a friend and our photog and friend – Tim Cattera – to start my hair and photos… My splurge was a “bride” hoodie and tank top… and I have to say it made me feel very bride like… because getting married a second time, with kids is very different.. its really not all about you or even you as a couple… its about the family… which is awesome.. but I had not felt very much like a bride up until this morning… and I tried to enjoy every moment because I wont be getting married ever again.. unless its renewing our vows :-)… So having a few moments without the kids.. in my bride gear helped me get centered… it could have also been the champagne my sister brought 

I enjoyed a “bride” chai from Starbucks and a little mimosa and my hair came out perfectly!!! Soon I was off and running to MAC at the mall…I arrived and waited my turn… she started and thank goodness I don’t have any issues speaking up because my eyes were REALLY dark.. so I asked her to lighten and start over… and once we got back on track – my makeup came out perfectly!!!!! And I felt that it was all coming together perfectly… and I loved getting “put together”.. there was a time a long time ago that I saw myself all done up, often… but after kids and leaving my modeling career behind, it was far and few between that I was able to get all made up… and I seriously recommend having your hair and makeup done for your big day.. it takes the pressure off and it will look amazing, not only in person but in your photos… and if you follow this at all.. you know I have a thing for photos  At this time the girls were at the salon and I was getting hair pictures and hearing that Mackenzie was loving being pampered and turned into the princess that she is… and amazingly…

We were running right on time!!!! and by the time I made my way up to Scotts Valley – I ran into our florist and got a preview of the flowers… They were amazing!!!! and so many more than I figured would be possible with our budget… and the funny thing.. I had told Rick that we didn’t want Succulents.. and yet.. there were succulents worked in.. but Rick quickly told me he incorporated them to be pulled out if I hated them… but I didn’t.. I LOVED them! and he said we could plant them afterwards so that we would always have a piece of the wedding bouquet.. which I loved!!!! He really made the flowers better than I could have imagined and the toss flowers were incredible….I was able to get a peek of the ceremony site and my breath was taken away… Monisha, Patrick and Jarrod had been working hard all morning – hanging lanterns and setting up chairs and the Sheppard hooks… it looked incredible and I was sooo over-whlemed by the effort and love we were being shown… this wedding really was a testament to our journey and the people in our lives… we never would have been able to pull this off without everyone’s help…

We also added the services of Stoney Godet from GoodDay Entertainment – to run our ceremony and reception music and Stoney RAN THE SHOW… seriously! He kept us on schedule… made sure we knew what was going on and seriously acted like an amazing coordinator… Originally we were not going to have a DJ – since we were going to have minimal music.. but we are SOOOO SOOOO SOOOOO happy that we hired Stoney because he really helped make our day amazing! Eric had been in charge of our music selections and after a night of listening to all his songs and “testing” out a few first dance songs – we gave Stoney a flash drive and list of our “musts” and the rest was up to him…

I finished getting ready and helped the girls get ready… I finished my card and private vows to Eric – we were not going to be doing them publicly.. but I wanted to share what I had written with him before I met him at the end of the aisle. We took some pictures and Eric and I were able to hold hands for a few mins (with a door between us) that helped ground me… I tend to get a little high strung.. but with this wedding.. I was able to let-go … for the most part.. a trust in everyone else to make it happen..

I wasn’t nervous… I was giddy and excited… the difference I felt was incredible… knowing deep down that you are marrying the right person and your best friend is incredible.. with no doubts… no questions… its an amazing feeling that I wish for everyone.. being fully content = weightless….

and before we knew it – it was go time!

I gave all the kids hugs and kisses and my dad came to get me…

As I made my way towards my husband to be, I was gleeful! I tried to take in the sight of our closest family and friends and our children…. And I stayed focused on the love of my life at the end of my path… because walking towards him I was walking towards our future and leaving all the hard stuff behind.. that had made us stronger and gotten us to this point.

We had worked with Stephanie to design a short, yet meaningful ceremony…. Happy tears… happy squeels from the kids and kissing my husband for the first time was incredible.

We took some quick photos and then tried to do our family shots, etc.. Tim was amazing… he managed the photos and us perfectly. And Eric and I are a funny couple… I am someone who spent a lot of time in front of cameras as well as behind them – so I can shoot all day… Eric on the other hand is a “great – you took 3 pictures… now lets be done” type of guy…. And I think we had the perfect in the middle… Because we weren’t going to be leaving the ceremony site – we didn’t want to be away from our guests for very long and really used the area around us.. which was amazing! We then joined our guests for some appetizers and then quickly got the show on the road and did our intros… then started dinner. Maybe its because we have small kids… but we decided that lets everyone with small kids hit the buffet first – get their kids situated and then had everyone else go… once everyone had their dinner… we did speeches and then moved to our first dance and our “family dances”… We wanted to take a moment to have a moment with our kids… Eric and Amber. Alex and myself and then the two little girls…. Then it was bouquet and garter toss time… we weren’t sure that we were going to do either by Amber, Eric’s 15yr old really wanted us to do them and I think she wanted the “full wedding experience”.. and we had a blast…. Then it was cake time…. And let me say.. IT WAS FABULOUS.. seriously.. if you are in the local Santa Cruz area.. hit me up for Stephanie’s contact info because it was seriously the BEST cake ever… super moist… and just perfect! My Ironman-in-training husband had two pieces.. because it was THAT GOOD!

By 8pm the evening started to wrap-up… Eric’s sister and Amber would be dropping off the girls at their daycare provider, Alex was off with his dad and Melissa and Amber had a girls night planned…

Eric and I loaded up his truck and then headed off to The Dream Inn for our wedding night… Monisha and Patrick blew our minds by not only offering their home for our special day but then making sure that we had an incredible place to spend our first married night together…

The Dream Inn was great and we were met with a bottle of Presecco and a dessert, we had also brought our wedding cake… we ordered grilled cheese and tomato soup and enjoyed a few hours with just the two of us and the incredible view of the Santa Cruz Wharf and Pacific Ocean.. it was a perfect end to a perfect day…..

My advice to Bride’s out there…. Remember to take it all in.. the day goes quick… enjoy the moments… and when you are in the middle of the crazy planning and the pinning on pinterest and looking at all the bridal magazines… Remember why you are getting married.. and remember that it is one day, a few hours… and while amazing – you want years and years filled with happiness and joy.

Ceremony Site: Private residence in Scotts Valley, CA
Caterer: Caterman Catering, San Jose, CA
Cake: Stephanie Drake, Santa Cruz CA
Officiant: Stephanie Drake, Santa Cruz, CA
Florist: Rick James from FVJ Luxuries (
DJ/Coordination: Stoney Godet, Goodday Entertainment
Photographer: Tim Cattera, Tim Cattera Photographry
Ring Pillow: Megan Rosenhart, Big Heart Designs
Wedding Gown and Tuxedos: Bridal Veil Fashions, Capitola CA
Hair: Julie Chmiel: Katwalk Salon, Soquel CA
Makeup: MAC
Engagement Ring: J. Weisner Jewlers, La Jolla, CA
Wedding Bands: Kay Jewelers

Bridal portrait - Copy

Bridal party - Copy

top shot

throw bouquet

the room




Momma and Kenzie

Rings2 - Copy


Melissa and Maddie

Me and Jaime

Mason Jars

Jenna and Amber

Maddie and Amber





Family Shot


hanging lanterns

Eric wedding

Eric Camo


closeup couples shot

couples shot





Bridal portrait



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Sharks Hockey Themed Birthday

Photo by: Tim Cattera

Photo by: Tim Cattera

The Sharks Birthday Party

(and yet again why Etsy is my best friend for parties)

Photos by Tim Cattera Photography


This party was the birthday party that we – yes.. even Eric – had always dreamed about throwing for our kids….


We had talked about a Sharks Hockey party for Alex since we first started dating… and this year it seemed fitting to throw a joint party… especially since due to availability – it was going to fall right between the kids birthdays… and at this age, the guest list is often the exact same.


I did the research and got Sharks Ice booked – which is where the NHL Team actually practices.  Typically, the parties are held in a different spot but due to event schedules, we were moved to the upstairs restaurant…


We then looked into booking Sharkie, the team mascot, for a personal appearance.  The kids adore him at the games and the package came with favors for all guests, skate time and meet and greet… we felt it would be a fun addition.


Once the big things were booked we moved to the details… and I am always about the details.. much to Eric’s dismay.. LOL


The first agenda item was the candy bar that I wanted to do.. I started with Apocarthy jars and found most from and a few on clearance from JCP online…. Next I had to think about filling them… and wanted to stick to Teal, Black and Silver candy…. And I quickly realized that buying in bulk was going to be the way to go…. And I had NO IDEA about quantities to fill the jars… needless to say – we ended up with a LOT of extras and my work was soon exposed to my crazy party throwing ways when they got a sample of the candy bar brought to the office..


Of course part of the candy bars were our standard itty bitty cookies by Sugar and Flour on Etsy ( Karen’s cookies are amazing and she nailed the teal and black with some sparkle…


I also made some shark lollipops and found shark fin lollipop’s as well as giant black and white swirled… I googled and researched on every candy item, making sure I got the best deal.. then took into consideration, shipping and quality policies.  I am also a little too detailed oriented and need to make sure the malt balls we ordered were not brown due to the chocolate.. but actually coated in a black candy shell…


We were able to provide a nice mixture – of course included gummi sharks, amoung the midst.


Also – one of the best ideas came from a friend many years ago – in the form of Ho-Ho Hockey pucks.. they all come individually wrapped and look like hockey pucks when unwrapped….


I again turned to Etsy for all of our paper products…. While I like to think I am crafty – I came to the conclusion along time ago that if I can delegate – it will help things go smoother…


So I asked one of our previous vendors ( to make the stickers for the ho-ho’s…. the birthday banner… the table decorations for each child – their name, age and coordinate with the Sharks logo…I also learned that when dealing with a licensed product (or team) almost everyone wants to make sure they are not infringing on copyright issues… so I went directly to the source and contacted the Sharks NHL team and asked for permission… and while I got as close to it as anyone could legally give… I thought it was fun that I was able to share the intentions with our beloved organization… and as long as we were not mass producing anything.. we were in the clear!  We also had special cupcake wrappers made… Teal and Black for Alex and Pink and Teal with Kenzie was the theme!


I then moved to the cake and cupcake tower ideas…. I figured I could bake the cupcakes myself – along the teal and black theme… (Teal for the vanilla and chocolate for the black)… but I have a love of fondant and what it brings to cakes… so I went back to etsy and found a lady who would make us Shark Fin cupcake toppers…( the logo was too difficult for cupcakes – so we had a large logo and birthday sign made for each child and had Jessica from Cakes by Jess make the cake for the top of the towers…. It took it off my plate.. which was greatly needed.


For the actual towers… I ordered the standard white foam ones online and then spray painted them each black and used scrap book paper – in black and teal glitter to line the trays…


Next up were the favor bags – Again, the paper tags came from our vendor off etsy and we used simple handle bags from Michael’s… we filled each bag with an assortment of items: All of them had hockey ducks from oriental trading, along with black and teal party beads, shark bubbles and we then threw in merchandise we had gotten at the yearly Sharks store clearance sale – pencils, stickers and for the older “kids” and adults, hockey pucks, etc…


We also left out a bowl with temp. Sharks Logo tattoos  – This made it easy to put the mini Sharkie stuffed animal from the mascot appearance into the bags… Each child also got a free skating session and a build your own zamboni….


Also in the mix was our awesome friend and photog Tim Cattera from…. I LOVE hiring someone else to capture the photos… The day is so crazy that by trying to play photog myself.. I never got to enjoy the kids… so I was thrilled…


Especially for this party that was located 25+miles away from our house… It also happened to fall in line with a HUGE surprise and finding out that we were pregnant with our youngest daughter… so aside from all the emotional craziness.. I was soooo sick…


I left SC as early as possible to drive to Sharks Ice and unload all the items and to start set-up.. Pizza and soda came with our party set-up.. THANK GOODNESS so food prep was off the table with this one….


This was our last “CRAZY PARTY” up until this point… I have a few ideas in store for the futur… but as you can tell.. considering this was 2years ago… we have had a lot on our plate…. The good news… is that when I look at these photos..(and the only one we have with Eric and I, Alex and Kenzie is hard to look at for me) it seems like a lifetime ago… we were miserable… we were unhealthy.. and our family was falling apart behind closed doors… I assumed this would be the last family photos we had together…. And I think I threw everything into planning this for our kids… one last amazing memory….. THANK GOODNESS I was proved wrong…. And the kids got an incredible day….


I hope you enjoy the details and remember… be present for your kids… they loved this.. but Kenzie really loved her last birthday – just last week… that didn’t have special plates or balloons.. that was sooooo uncoordinated, it was funny.. but she had her family, cousins and a grocery store cake… and if you ask her.. it was even better than this one….



teal cupcakes

Sharks Party Table

Sharkie and Mack

Sharkie and Kids

Momma and Kenzie

Momma and Alex

Kenzie's cake2

Kenzie's cake

Kenzie with mommy and daddy

Kenzie on the ice

Gift bags

itty bitty cookies

kenzie and daddy

Kenzie cake by Tim

Kenzie Cake

Daddy and Kenzie

Daddy and Kenzie on the ice


candy bar2

Candy Bar

Birthday Tables

Black and Teal

Both Cakes

cake table

Candy bar closeup

Amber and Kenzie By Tim Cattera

Alexs cake

Alex cake

Alex cake by Tim

Alex by Tim Cattera



Alex and Cousins

Alex and Sharkie by Tim Cattera

Alex and sharkie in locker room

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