Tim’s Birthday Weekend

We had a super productive and happy weekend!  Sorry for the late update.

Friday Tim and I were both off, so we made the most of it and packed up a ton of stuff including the kids’ wardrobes except a small winter set, the grown up wardrobes and entire closet except 30 things each, and the entire office except for books and bedding.  Huge progress.  Tim also pared down the garage and side storage contents and hosted the rummage while I worked inside all day.  Roger came midday to help with the babies and that made for a ton of afternoon progress!

Mary Kay came Friday evening and we got an early start Saturday getting ready for a small birthday party.  Sara surprised us and came earlier than expected and the Law-Penrose family and company came to celebrate with us in the afternoon.  It was the perfect Fall day to be outside all day, so that was lucky and enjoyable for everybody.

Sunday came quickly and we finished packing up the garage spaces and tackled the kitchen non-essentials.  Yikes.  I have a lot of kitchen stuff.  Tim hit up the (disappointing) Bears game while Grammie and Papa and mama and babies went to the pumpkin patch.  Adorable.  Silas loved it!

We came back and got to work again packing up random things.  By the end of the day, Tim and I were making bargains with each other.  “If you get rid of a whole box of picture frames, I’ll get rid of one whole box of Christmas stuff.”  I had four totes and a box of holiday stuff!  I’m literally a fair weather minimalist.

Monday was the last of Tim’s Fall Break, so we headed to the park during the house appraisal and it was beautiful!  It’s no joke taking three babies under 2 to the park, even with 2 grown ups.  Kenzi went with me last time and it was miserable.  Tim went this time and it was slightly less miserable, but the trees were gorgeous and the babies were generally cooperative.  We were grateful it was nap time as soon as we got home.

Here are a few pictures from the long weekend.

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Happy 34th year on the planet, Timmy!

Up next for the GB’s:  Onarga to celebrate Roger’s 60th birthday and retirement after 40 years on the railroad.  Huzzah!

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Five/Twenty-Three

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In one month, my Silas Peter will be TWO YEARS OLD.  Somebody pinch me.

This kid is a freakin’ riot these days.  He makes the funniest faces, he builds train tracks all by himself, he lines up all of his wheeled toys in choo choo fashion, and he talks nonstop, even in his sleep and in the middle of the night.  He woke one morning at four, sat up and said “bye, Kenzi!”  She was still here when he went to bed, in his defense.

The latest for SPTB:  singing!  His repertoire includes Wheels on the Bus, Jingle Bells, Baa baa black sheep, I love you so much, Pooh Bear, Muffin Man, You are my Sunshine, Peg+Cat, and a few others.  He is picking up about two songs per day at the moment.  So funny!  He refuses to sing on demand, so I’m trying to be super sneaky and get a video, but no luck yet.

Si loves books and reading, still loves stacking, is pretty impressive with the shape sorter, and is becoming perhaps a little too brave where Maren is concerned since he tries to lift her and regularly hits her with various toys when trying to include her in his play.  His intentions are pure for the most part, but the accidents are bordering on many these days.  Ah, siblings.

Interests are wide and varied these days…  elephants still, coffee, cereal, horses, crickets!, books, trees, mister potato head, identifying shapes everywhere (triangle, oval, circle, square, rectangle, star), colors (everything is red or blue if you ask), falling leaves, coloring (mostly not on paper), helping mama cook, helping daddy do dishes at the sink, and kissing Maren while saying “hi yooooou!” sweetly right in her face.

He is SO funny. We love him to the moon!  28 pounds and 34 inches tall this month.  Three out of four molars are through (thank goodness).  Even with some two year old wildness and destructiveness sneaking into our days lately, Silas is such an amazing little dude.  He really is.

Maren is five months old, and the day she hit five months is the day we sold our house.  Memorable!  She is increasingly fun and sweet.  She plays with Silas, watching him for long periods and just loving him for being near.  It’s such a sweet little sibling love.  She is so loud these days!  She is chattiest in the mornings and right before she goes to sleep, and she has really been experimenting with volume lately.  I actually feared she would wake a napping Silas today, which hasn’t happened before.  Her voice is adorable; a little scratchy and smooth at the same time.

Maren is 17 pounds, 8 ounces and she seems really long, although I have no idea how long she is.  We are mostly disposable diapering these days since I have three in diapers and it’s just a lot.  She has moved into 9 months jammies, 12 month hats, and 6-12 everything else.  The girl has a wicked noggin for sure.

She loves muslin blankies for waving, chewing, sucking, and playing.  She doesn’t use a paci anymore, which has made bedtimes much easier.  She goes to sleep by herself after chatting away for a few minutes, happy as can be.  When she gets overstimulated or pissed, she is quick to cry.  Like full throttle, zero to sixty, I-think-someone-pinched-me crying.  I’m sure strangers think she is severely wounded.  As soon as I pick her up (no one else will do) she is magically fine, of course.  She’s a spirited little soul.  I wonder what she’ll do with all that energy someday.

Miss Susannah is growing some hair and it’s too cute!  Curly, of course, right after her bath, but otherwise straight (just like Si’s was).  No teeth yet, but she is a drooling, chewing machine.  She grins at Tim from across the room on a regular basis, loves to take baths with Silas as long as she doesn’t have to lie down, is so over crinkly toys, and loves the old school teething beads from my childhood.  She also loves the waterproof bibs and diaper covers, which are both slippery, cool material that apparently is good for chewing.  She is hit or miss with loving the jumparoo and usually likes the Bumbo quite a bit.

We aren’t planning on starting baby food yet since we will do baby led feeding/weaning again, although Silas fed her some banana bread, apple, and Pirate Booty, all of which I had to scoop out in the last month.  Thanks, brother!  You can’t knock his sharing skills.  They rock.

   We got out her winter wear and it’s full of darling leggings (thanks,Sara!), boots and booties, and darling hats.  So much fun dressing babies these days, boys and girls alike.  I can’t get over the baby clothes. Although, in all honesty, my fave bib is too small to go around Maren’s generously sized neck.

Hard

After I had Silas, I thought life had gotten sort of hard.  He puked everywhere and didn’t sleep and I couldn’t eat diary and he screamed in the car.  I mean come on.  Life was definitely more complicated.

Then I was pregnant again and had Silas plus was watching two more kids 20 hours a week, and that seemed harder.  Then I fell and couldn’t lift Silas for three months and that was really hard, but mostly emotionally for our relationship.  After I had Maren I was like “holy crap–I have TWO BABIES who cry and need to be rocked and loved and carried.  This is hard.”  Now I have my two babies and I keep a 10 month old 43 hours a week for next to no pay.  It’s degrading.  It’s busy.  It’s sometimes hard (especially at about 3pm).  Momastery often says “This is hard, but we can do hard things.”  And we can, and we do.

Today I had the day off, which really means I just got to be a stay at home mom today.  It’s surprisingly not hard to have my own two when I am used to having three under two years old.  And so I loaded up the babies this morning and we walked leisurely through the store, bought some new tea, and came home.  Maren took a huge nap while Silas and I sang songs and giggled and explored the kitchen counters while he stood on a chair.  It was really the sweetest thing ever.  There was magic in the simple, quiet time we had that made me remember that it used to be just me and Si all the time.  It makes me sad for the time that we don’t have anymore, and I tell myself I’m going to make it a priority, even in the middle of moving and transitioning this next month.

He went down for a nap, Maren woke, and I gave her a bath which she found enjoyable, much to my surprise.  I think it was the quiet house and the warmer than usual water, or maybe it was the side track of her favorite toy in her hand.  After her bath and clean jammies (because who puts real clothes on a baby after a bath anyway), she was sleepy.  She didn’t go to sleep right away like she usually does, so I lay beside her and sing her a song because I can.  I have time to!  She smiled and jabbered and sucked her fingers as usual, and then instead of her beloved blankie she rolled over and grabbed a handful of my shirt and sighed and went right to sleep.  And it was really the sweetest thing ever, too.

I feel regularly conflicted about living in the Midwest or even in America, and talking with my sister this morning made me feel better and normal for thinking about not being here sometimes.  I realized that the allure of not living here lies in the simplicity of life elsewhere because it inevitably frees up a vast amount of energy that could be put into things that matter, like in noticing the look on Si’s face when he figures out how to turn the sound machine on and the way Maren talks to her blanket when she is sleepy.  Most days I don’t have time to just watch my babies explore life as a new human, and I know no one else does either.  But deep down these are the things I think are important and the reasons I won’t go back to work for quite some time.

Today I feel lucky to be at home with my babies, just us, and lucky to have a fridge full of food after grocery shopping and lucky to have a husband who defends our decision for me to stay home when he’s at work.  I feel torn about staying home instead of working sometimes, and days like today remind me why we chose to do this as a family and what I would be missing.  We give up a lot to make it feasible for me to be home all day.  I realized this when I read the rules to the 30 day spending freeze challenge and realized we already did them all in our normal life right now.  It doesn’t matter if it seems lame or if it seems like I don’t do anything all day or I am not bettering myself, because being grateful for these small things makes creates a happiness that prevents regret.  It’s worth it.

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Pieces

It was pretty much the longest week in history last week.  On the heels of a travel weekend, Tim had his most hectic student teaching week, including parent teacher conferences early and late several days, I nannied late a few nights, we had the inspection and scheduled repairs, we attempted to find housing, and then we had company these last two days.  We are totally pooped.

After a weekend full of our favorite families and endless conversation about invigorating and important things (until 1am!!), we are feeling peaceful, hopeful and a little overwhelmed.  Lucky for us, Silas peed through his pajamas at 5:30 this morning after we turned into pumpkins staying up so late.  We’re too old for this crap.  I can’t even wrap my head around starting to pack up this house.  I need an intervention.  I’m serious.

I inquired about a few properties in the past week, but one was already sold and one is iffy for us.  On a whim, we emailed the woman who bought our house in the woods to see how she’d feel about renting it to us for a few months since she delayed her retirement.  Long story short, she wanted a long term house sitting arrangement for the winter to keep the critters out of the house and we just happen to need a living space in that exact window.  The angels sang.  We’re moving back into our old house until we find the right property for the long term.  EXCITED!!  It will be a special, cozy winter with Karma and Elizabeth next door on our old lane.

In other news, I have three leads for full time work and Tim has a few promising opportunities on his radar as well.  The buyers of our house in Lafayette switched from an FHA loan to a conventional loan, which makes for a much easier, smoother and less paperwork-heavy closing experience.  We also got the results of our inspection, which was not too shabby considering the age of our good ol’ home.  She isn’t young by any means.  Repairs are happening this week, and then we are set to close the day before Thanksgiving.  Holy cow.

Our next house is going to be the one we call home for a decade or more, so there’s a little more pressure this time around to find something that really feels like us.  I am practically salivating at the thought of decorating a space in a way that appeals to my creative side instead of my practical future-buyer’s-taste side. Our first two home purchases have been made knowing that they were not our long term homes, so it feels very different this time!  We are stoked and surprised that we will actually make a wee bit of money off of this house since it was not an investment property like the last one was.  We are thrilled about that.

I guess at this point we are feeling a little nervous (as anyone does when a closing is pending) but mostly just happy and calm.  There is a magic about the way things are falling into place left and right in ways we could not have imagined.  We’re taking it as a flashing neon sign that this is the right time for us and that this is the direction we are supposed to be heading.

Thanks so much to our families who are being so supportive and encouraging about our final move for a long, long time.  I know it’s hard to see us make choices that appear impulsive, but this was a carefully considered decision and an important one for us, and it couldn’t feel more right.  That kind of certainty is priceless and comforting, and we are grateful for it.

This week’s task:  gather up a final go-round of things to get out of our house and into our rummage sale that’s happening on Friday!  Who wants to come help me?

Sunday Soups

We are in hard core pare down mode as we prep for moving.  If you recall, last time we moved, we had to rent a second truck.  Minimalist fail.  I mean seriously.  So this time, even with an additional child, we are hoping to move way less stuff.

In the name of downsizing, we limited our spending for the month of October.  We really do this most of the time since I stay home, but for sure we have been much more inclined to stay in as opposed to grabbing food or coffees on the go when we travel.  Our fridge is pretty close to empty, and thanks to our accidental deep freeze thaw, we have cleaned out the freezer as well.  We’re down to a few whole chickens and a few pounds of grass fed beef.  Huzzah!

As a result of cleaning out the cabinets, I found two really simple, really delicious soup recipes that use a handful of ingredients but still manage to taste impressive.  These are NOT 30 minute meals–they take about an hour each, but they double and freeze nicely and are mostly hands off, so they make a great weekend food to make for lunches throughout the week.  I like to call them Sunday Soups because they’re perfect for those days when you have time to spend a little more time in the kitchen on a cool afternoon.

Simple White Bean Soup
adapted from this one

This is a hearty, filling, creamy soup without using any dairy.  It manages to taste better than your average bean soup, thanks to the citrus at the end.  This makes a huge pot of soup!  Like a gallon.

What you need:

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 medium carrots, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 6 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon each Salt and pepper
  • 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (don’t omit this)

What to do:

Thinly dice your onion, celery, carrots and garlic.  (I used minced garlic and I put the rest of them through the Salad Shooter.  I still swear by that thing.)

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.  Add the diced onions and cook until translucent, then add the celery, carrot, garlic and bay leaves and continue to cook 10 minutes or until they have softened.

Pour the broth into the pot, add the beans and the salt and pepper.  Bring the soup to a boil and let soup simmer for 30-45 minutes or until your veggies are completely soft.

Remove the bay leaves from the soup and puree.  Stir in lemon or lime juice and add more salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
adapted from this one

I am not a fan of squash soups for the most part.  I’m all about dessert, but I don’t like sweet things involved with my dinner.  This one is savory and delicious, not sweet at all, and ends up with almost a potato soup like texture.  I doubled the recipe and I must admit not a whole lot went into the freezer.  Delicious.

Ingredients
– 1 medium squash
– 6+ cloves garlic (I used minced)
– yellow onion
– extra virgin olive oil
– 4 fresh thyme sprigs, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
– 4 cups chicken stock
– salt & pepper
– 1/4 cup 1/2 and 1/2, cream, or cream cheese (optional; I use cream cheese in soups instead of cream because, while I love the creaminess, the lactose in cream and half & half give me and Silas bellyaches)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds. Place on baking sheet, and fill empty cavities with at least 3 cloves garlic and 2 thyme sprigs or 1/2 tsp dried thyme each. Then drizzle halves with olive oil (or spray with Misto) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Carefully flip the squash over on its belly so the cut side is down, being careful to keep the garlic and thyme underneath. Roast for about one hour, until it’s nice and tender and caramelized (you can check this with a fork – if it sinks into squash with ease and the skin looks wrinkly, it’s done!  I took mine out a smidge too early when I only used the fork test).

Meanwhile, caramelize onions in a little olive oil using a medium pot on medium heat.  Once the squash is finished roasting, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for a bit.  Toss the roasted garlic into the soup pot with onions and discard the thyme sprigs if you used them.

Scoop out the squash flesh from the skin (be gentle, because the skin tears super easily). Dump squash into the pot and turn up the heat, allowing the squash to caramelize a bit. Break up the squash with a spoon and stir it so it doesn’t stick to the pot.

After the squash is nicely caramelized, add the chicken stock to the pot. Stir, and allow it to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Remove from heat and add 1/2 and 1/2, if you’re using it! Taste, and add salt & pepper as needed.

Oh Boy

The winds of change are a’blowing around here.  Maren turned 5 months old today.  I don’t know where time goes sometimes.  Admittedly, the days are hectic, but holy cow.

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She’s babbling, giggling, throwing enormous fits, and finding her brother hilarious.  No teeth yet, but I doubt we get to the six month mark before the bottom two come through since we can see them already.  She is such a hoot, and a huge contrast to the docile, mellow baby that Silas was.  She has some robust opinions!  Miss Susannah loves to chew on everything, is fascinated by food and cups going into big people mouths, loves to pull on my hair when she’s sleepy, and is flipping over to her belly constantly.  She’s over 17 pounds, is growing some blonde hair, and is wearing 6-9 and 12 month clothes.

In other news, we accepted an unexpected offer on our house this morning.  (!)

Yeah, before I could even link the realtor page to Facebook, we had four showings and a lovely offer within the first 36 hours of the post going live.  Tim and I were expecting 3 months on the market, which is the average here, and we were very, very wrong.  He and I were both really intentional about putting it on the market, going with the theory that it will sell when it sells, but we were not prepared for the response.  We have never been so excited about moving, either separately or together!

Why are we moving? This is a very popular question these days.  Here’s the answer:

We moved to Lafayette to be closer to Tim’s family, primarily.  Being closer to mine by a little bit and closer to Chicago were also bonuses, although we didn’t get to either place any more often than before we moved.  All of our important priority boxes were checked upon moving here:  university town, UU church, farmers market, good parks/outdoor opportunities, lovely neighbors.

It was clear after we got here that we had underestimated how much we loved Bloomington despite all of our tidy, checked boxes.  We were prepared for a little of this, but the compromise of seeing family more didn’t make up for the total loss of community and the assumption of the black sheep persona, it turned out.  We knew once we settled in here that we would stay for a period of time but that we wanted to move elsewhere before Si started school.

As time progressed, we decided to stay until we had our second baby for the sake of family help.  Surprise!  We did that pretty quickly.  We also wanted Silas to have closer relationships with family in his baby years.  It has been not only enjoyable, but essential to have Rog and Mary Kay so near this past year.  They have been over at least once or twice a month since we got here.  Heck, Roger was even here on babywatch when I went into labor because Tim was working out of town.

We spent the summer focusing on Tim’s grad work wrapping up.  He finishes student teaching the first week of November, so we were presented with a window of opportunity.  We could either commit to staying here for 3-5 more years for Tim to establish his teaching career, or we could list the house and see how it goes and make the transition sooner rather than later.  At this point, you know what we picked and how (quickly) it went.

We are sad about the shift in how often we will see Tim’s parents, but it’s tempered with the fact that Rog retires this month (YAY) and MK has long school breaks since she is on an academic schedule.  Our hope is that we will end up with longer visits, slightly further apart, and in a familiarly rugged, tree lined setting.  It’s not much more of a drive to see my family from Bloom, so that isn’t a huge transition. We also found one other kindred family here and we love love love them!  We’re still holding out for the hope that they will follow us South.

Tim and I are both terribly excited about our next move, which will be back to Bloomington.  It feels 9 out of 10 right, which is really hard to come by in our house.  The missing “1” lies in the fact that it isn’t in the Pacific Northwest, but I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.  🙂

Our carefully considered priorities are a mish mosh of things: rugged terrain and hiking for Tim, a huge lake for me, religious education at our wonderful church for the babies, alternative school settings for them as they get older, work for me (details yet to come, but we aren’t quite ready for that step since we don’t live there yet), like minded people politically speaking, and a support system of motherly neighbors and authentic friends with a similar (and apparently uncommon) parenting philosophy.

These are all important things to us, and as much as we know about ourselves because we work at it, we didn’t take advantage of them as much as we will upon our return.  I think leaving and coming back is exactly what needed to happen for us to be really intentional about committing to a larger community and putting down roots, which is something neither of us has ever done.  We’ve never been more eager to move in our lives!  If you’re lamenting over our move right now, be forewarned that the grown ups in this house really would prefer to live out West, but for the sake of our babies and their relationships with aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents, we won’t do that for several years.  Count your Midwestern blessings and be excited for us.

This time around, we will be renting for a few months, most likely.  The goal is to find our long term home, so we don’t want to rush into buying just to avoid renting like we did when we moved to Lafayette.  Closings 24 hours apart just about put this lady over the edge last time.

Tim and I are still oscillating between two housing scenarios, so finding something right off the bat when we aren’t sure what we want seems daunting, at best.  If we have some sort of revelation before then, we will consider buying, but I am doubtful at this point.  We are scheduled to close December 1.  Such a weird time to move, right?  Apparently we love to move in the dead of winter.

Bring on the boxes!  Kenzi, that’s your cue.

Finding Balance: Closeness and Space

The funny thing about looking at other peoples’ lives and accomplishments is we all have the same amount of hours in the day.  I follow a clean eating accountability group on Facebook (ahem–Kylie) and there was a quote about that very thing.  I thought to myself “I am no more tired than the next bloke.  We’ve all got stuff to do and we’re all tired at the end of the day.”  Tired is relative.  Pain is relative.  Stress is relative.  Welcome to America, land of “my life is harder than yours”.

Where am I going with this?  Well, first of all, I tasked myself with trying to find more energy in my day.  I don’t work out because I don’t have the time/energy to do it (said every person ever).  I need more energy!  I’m nursing, so it can’t come from caffeine.  I get enough hours of sleep (although broken since Maren is up at night).  I use my time well and eat nourishing foods.  Tim gets up at 5 everyday to make sure he has time to work out and meditate.  I’m a notorious morning person, but being up at night with Maren turns me into a slightly later morning person and I just.  can’t.  do it.

So today I did Piyo for the first time.  Tim’s been doing it for a month already, and I’m resisting the urge to feel lame.  I did it with a baby crawling beneath me and a toddler climbing my back and another baby grinning like a darling fool at her mama.  Because I have just as much time as the next person, and because no one else is going to make it happen for me.

I started pondering why exactly I felt like I had more energy today.  You know what I realized? Yesterday evening was the first time I have left the house by myself in weeks.  WEEKS.  I went to sell baby clothes at Once Upon a Child.  Thrilling, right?  But being by myself and taking that space was enough to recharge my batteries and make me feel like I could tackle 30 minutes of Piyo today.  The weeks that pass without alone time are the weeks when I feel most drained, resentful, and all around gross about life.

Balancing closeness and space is the key to happiness in every relationship I have–with Tim, with the babies, with family, and even with myself.  

The closeness (mental and physical) I have with my littles all day everyday becomes suffocating and taxing if I don’t intentionally take mental space (by blogging or talking to Angela for an hour) or physical space (by going grocery shopping or errand running, which my midwife tells me is NOT space, but it’s the best I can do most of the time) and it becomes damaging to my relationship with them because I am an annoyed, frustrated, tired mama.  It’s impossible for me to appreciate them as my own tiny humans and to enjoy them where they are in this minute when I feel like that.  I know I need to take space to balance the closeness.

The copious amount of space between me and Tim after teaching, lesson planning, baby bedtimes, home renovating, housekeeping, grading, and other lifey stuff has commenced makes it hard to feel close to each other.  Add to that our attempt to live on half an income while he student teaches and you end up with dateless, far apart people trying to remember how to keep things fun and loving.  Part of the motivation behind minimizing our belongings and habits was founded in attempting to carve out more down time for the grown ups.  We’re doing a pretty good job these days, if I do say so myself, but I won’t pretend it is effortless.  We know we have to create closeness to balance the space.

We moved to Lafayette because Tim needed to be closer to his family and I would not entertain monthly trips 4 hours each way from Bloomington with Silas (and now Maren, since she also despises the car).  We are moving again because I need to be closer to my “people” who make things easier when they are hard, and also because I need more space for our family unit as we are now.  Tim needs to feel like he has some rugged terrain and like minded souls to feel connected.  The decision becomes easier when we identify what we are missing, because it tells us what we need.

Another factor in moving is my own:  I have an 80/20 problem when living too near or too far from my family.  I have 80% negative emotions and 20% positive in either situation.  I have lived across town and across the world (literally) from my family.  We have commentary running in both families about not moving at all, or about moving closer to one side or the other.  We have people far, far away beckoning us to move to their neck of the woods, and I’d be lying if I said it isn’t enticing.  It’s hard to feel like we have to defend our choices when they don’t make sense to other people, but it’s nice to know that you all like us enough to want us nearby.

My family relationships are most loving, supporting and enjoyable when we live a few hours away.  This gives us time and space to be our own family of four (which has been a constant struggle since our weekends fill up so quickly with commitments) while still allowing our kids to have childhoods full of memories with cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and all the other important people Tim and I grew up with.  The priority of our kids’ relationships with family trumps all else.  Any by all else, I mean my desire to move to Seattle or Portland and Tim’s desire to move to Denver.  We will live in those places later in life, but when we are a young family, Midwest is best for us.

The final closeness/space balance that is out of whack for me since getting married (!) is the relationship I have with myself.  As a natural and somewhat severe introvert, sharing an abode with Tim brought about a challenge I hadn’t experienced before despite lots of roommates.  I all of a sudden found it very hard to find time to be by myself.  Most of that came from the fact that we both worked in the same school system, so we had the same commute, the same hours, the same holidays and vacations.  It wasn’t long before our routine was established and alone time wasn’t involved.  And as newlyweds, we were ok with that, but as time progresses and careers change, we each need things we don’t get from each other.  Home renovation followed newlywed mode, and babies followed that.  Life just keeps moving and changing.

The biggest thing missing for me is a meditation practice and a physical activity practice, which could be combined into a walking meditation habit of sorts like I used to have.  Even typing that makes my brain freak out and say “but I don’t have time to meditate and I’ll be lucky to do three days of Piyo in a row!” and my rational brain quickly follows it up with the reality that we make time for the things that we prioritize.  We all get the same number of hours.  Life is very fair that way.

Scurry

We’re in a bit of a whirlwind over her wrapping up the upstairs bathroom before we list the house tomorrow.  Blogging has been on hold since we completed 26+ finishing projects on the house over the weekend!

But today, I ran across a post about how to get started minimizing one’s life from The Minimalists blog, and somehow I meandered over to Project 333.  You guys.  This is so my kind of thing.  And I had to blog it because I need help with it.  Who wants to come over?

The gist of Project 333 is that you pare down to a 33 piece wardrobe that you will use for the next three months.  This means every season brings a revamped and appropriate wardrobe, but that laundry, finding something to wear, and having clothes that feel and look lovely become automatic and stress free.  I’m so in.

There are a few reasons I love this particular approach to a manageable wardrobe.  One is that you don’t get rid of the things you pare down, you simply store them.  A few months ago I had a baby (duh) and that leaves me with a body that’s more comfortable than usual.  I don’t want to toss my skinny clothes or even my pre-second-baby clothes.  This lets me keep them and work them in as they fit better.  I also like that this approach doesn’t include undies, jammies, workout gear or the like (although it does say only to wear workout gear when you’re *actually* working out) and to focus on clothes that fit well and are ones that you can work, live and play in.  The 33 items DOES include clothes, accessories and jewelry, outerwear and shoes!  This comes at the perfect time for us since we’re starting to pack up the things we’re not avidly using for the sake of keeping the house showing-ready for potential buyers.

Anybody else already living with a minimal wardrobe?  I’d love to know how it works for you.

Lafayette, One Year Later

We have lived in this house for a year and she’s shaped up quite a bit.  It’s nowhere near what we would be doing to it (ahem, floors) if we were staying here, but it’s a far cry from the wallpapered, wood worked all to hell place we initially met.  Check out the original move-in photos here.  It always makes me feel better to look at them and then hang out in our house for a while.

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It rained all morning and when I went out to snap that last photo of the yard, it sure felt like Fall with the leaves everywhere.  Hello, October!

So that’s what we’re living with these days.  We have about ten more tiny projects to tackle this weekend, then it’s house listing time.  I’m SO EXCITED.

Love versus Love

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I read an article today about how American parenting is killing the American marriage.  I have to admit that it rings pretty true for us.  We consistently struggle to keep our grown up relationship more than just merely afloat.  We love our babies fiercely, which translates to time and energy and adoration and joy.  It’s hard work and it leaves very little left over for the love of our lives at the end of the day.  Mom says “it’s a season”.  Friends of ours call it “roommate syndrome” and “survival mode”.  Whatever you call it, it feels pretty yucky, if you ask me.  You know you’ve reached a crossroads when you don’t know what to do with yourself on a date.

I admit that I have high standards for relationships.  I started thinking about how Tim and I have worked hard to have a healthy, open communicating relationship.  We’ve poured over books, articles, video clips, and honest conversations with friends in the last four years.  There are two things that made a noticeable difference in how we feel about our relationship, especially in the busy seasons of life.

1.  Ask the other person what makes them feel taken care of

This is loosely derived from The 5 Love Languages (which I did not love) and it’s interesting how different our reactions were to this question.  Tim’s things:  when we have dinner together, when he has clean underwear and socks, when I rinse off the dishes, when the bed is made.  My things:  when Tim takes the kids so I can take a leisurely, leg-shaving bath, when he fills three Ball jars of water for me each morning before I get up, when he leaves espresso in the pot before he heads to work, when he takes out the trash and loads the dishwasher every day without fail.  These are the things that keep our house running smoothly, and they’re also the things that we do intentionally because we know it makes the other person feel taken care of.  Sometimes that’s enough to get us through the day with ten minutes to spare for a relaxed conversation.

  2.  Make a list of ten things that make you feel loved

The concept here is to be able to surprise your partner, which also goes a long way toward getting through the not so smooth days.  Some of Tim’s are flavored creamer (no joke–we never buy it), a foot rub, playing a game together, going to Menards, pepperoni pizza (which we never eat), and a guilt free nap.  Some of mine are Talenti gelato, a manicure, takeout and a movie, Saturday morning excursions and coffee, time to read by myself, or a guilt free tv show binge.

Have you ever asked your partner what makes him/her feel loved?  The answers can be surprising.  Ask!  And even if you think your love doesn’t need it, show up with a surprise once in a while.