Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Snapshots 08.15.17

We recently stayed at an old friend's home in Seattle. She was out of town, but all the little pockets of detail in every corner made it feel like she was there with us. They live in a small apartment, but I could not get over how personal and loving the space was. It reminded me how much I love the  places in our home that make this space unique and wonderful, and bring us little bits of joy every day. I thought I would start sharing little snapshots to showcase these special things and places in our lives.

Anyone who has tried to purchase a Japanese maple knows how much it can set a buyer back. Many years ago, maybe 6 or 7 years, I bought a tiny Japanese maple from a local nursery for $28.00. It was about 10 inches tall, and I was told it is a rare breed of maple that would cost me hundreds of dollars at full size. It lived proudly in the front yard of our old house. Multiple gardeners and landscapers commented on it over the years, as it is not a common breed seen in the average yard. It grew and grew into a full, beautiful tree, and I told the realtor we were taking it with us to the new house.

A 90 degree day in June is not an ideal time to transplant a tree, but we didn't have a choice, and naturally it went into shock.

We didn't have time to do a stellar job with this transplant, and we later learned we should have cut back a bunch of growth on the tree before we attempted to move it. Because we didn't do this, the tree decided to sacrifice a portion of itself, hence all the dead leaves.

But beneath all those dead leaves you can find vibrant and healthy new growth.

Every day there is new growth, and promise that this thing just might make it through the move. I will be so sad if it dies. It is irreplaceable and priceless, holding much physical and emotional value. There is no way we could afford a new one, and the nursery that sold the seedlings is now closed.

The same new leaves 2 days later.

The garden was not what it usually is this year. However, I did manage to transplant some squash in the new garden beds Jeff made for me, and they are thriving. Is there anything more endearing than a pumpkin?

And of course we are just living our lives, loving spending these precious days together. Some days are easier than others (Mondays and Tuesdays are usually nightmares), but I try to snuggle and love on my crabby baby/toddler during those bitching witching hours.

She plays with his toys, he comes and bugs her.

Trucks are everything.

She woke up with crazy hair and I just had to document it.

She is happiest when she is playing outside.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Grass Is Greener

We are officially moved out of our old house. We handed over the keys and drove off into the sunset with a box full of plants we dug out of the yard. Shhhhhh...

As I walked through the empty house, all the memories came flooding back. Everett standing in the front window of his room waving at the people walking by, Alice toddling around the bathroom pulling all the Birchbox samples out of the cupboards, bringing home our babies from the hospital, learning how to bake bread, successfully growing my first garden, bubble baths in our custom master bathroom...

All the backbreaking work we put into the house to make it what we needed. This place was Us.

I sat in the stairwell, staring at the empty master suite we created, listening to all the familiar sounds of Home. Then I locked the doors one last time, saying goodbye to my rhubarb, lavender, cherry tree, and all the other plants I bought over the years with Groupons, or had grown from seeds that cluttered up our mantle, all on our small budget of often only one income. Over the course of 8 years it all turned into a beautiful garden. It may not have been a landscaper's plan for the yard, but it was made with love and authenticity.

And now we start over. New house, new projects. A new place to call Home.

I am eager to get started, but for now we are unpacking and settling. I think we have had enough chaos these last few weeks. As I mentioned before, we did not really want to move. We were not looking, and we were perfectly happy and content in our little green house on the boulevard. We were going to stay there forever. I think this is what made it so hard to leave. We had to break up with something with which we were still in love.

But the right house did find us on the Boulevard, and we are definitely not looking back. It's like how Jacob thought he imprinted on Bella, but all that time she wasn't really the right one...it was her daughter. Yes...yes, this is a Twilight reference. So on that note I must conclude, but you get the idea. We are sooo(infinite o's) thrilled to be in our new place, but it was bittersweet leaving our little home behind. However, I can't wait to share our new lives on the Boulevard.

Monday, June 12, 2017

When Life Gets Too Boring

Just when life was starting to feel a little boring, when I told myself, "I finally have time to pick up the guitar!" I planned a million things to do over summer to fill our weekends, we started the planning phase of rebuilding our deck. Life was comfortable!

And then we bought a new house.

And the house is glorious.

It needs some work, but it is just simply glorious. It is in our favorite part of town, has so much character (built in 1934), and is covered in wallpaper. So maybe that last thing isn't necessarily a sell, but everything in the house is high quality and so well maintained that we can be happy with some wallpaper while I figure out my vision (pronounced with a French accent).

We will now be living in a house that has some legitimate history. I feel nervous and honored to take over the care of the home, but we need to carefully maintain the integrity of its original construction, or run the risk of being chased out of the neighborhood by purists wielding vintage pitchforks.

To start, we are having the wiring updated. Once that is done we can officially move!

I am definitely not looking forward to moving. I have been avoiding moving for years. Please send all positive vibes my way.

So why did we choose to move? I was driving home from church with Alice a few weeks back and saw an open house sign pointing in the direction of my favorite neighborhood. I drove past without stopping or acknowledging, then a few seconds later something told me to turn around. Alice was overdue for her nap, but we would just be there for a couple minutes, right? We got out of the car, walked up the steps, went inside, and I knew I was home. The more I went through the house, the more certain I became that this was where we would be for the rest of our lives.

I went home and gave Jeff a flier for the house. I didn't say anything, I simply told him he should check out the open house. At that time Everett woke up from his nap and Jeff said he wanted to go with ALL of us. You guys, I cannot begin to describe how odd it was for Jeff to agree to this in the first place. We were not looking for a new house, and he hates doing silly things like going to open houses. In fact, we had firmly decided we were going to live in our house forever; never moving. If Jeff could have chosen to do anything at that moment, I bet it would have been to eat a turkey sandwich and take the kids to the park. But defying the laws of logic, he went to an open house instead. And he loved it. I watched his face go from mildly grumpy, to neutral, to excited, to ecstatic, to DESPERATELY NEED. And after 10 minutes exploring the house from attic to basement, Everett told us which room he wanted.

So we did not exactly choose to move. I think the house chose us. The previous owners were thrilled to have another family move in, and they cried when they watched Everett play in the tree house (yes, there's a tree house). By the way, it has only been occupied by 2 families since it was built. The place has been loved and cared for, and we will do our best to care for it too.

We put our current house on the market a couple weekends ago, then sold it in about 5 days. How did it sell so fast? Well...we are really good at staging:

Now we talk about owning two houses. Yesterday we did yard work at our current house, then packed the lawnmower and the kids in the car to do yard work at the new house. Fun stuff!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Easter Love

Life is full, life is rich. We are spending our days in the grind and staying afloat, magically. Here's a little of what has been going on:

  • Alice moved up to the toddler room at daycare a couple months ago. This has been life changing in the best possible way. She eats, she sleeps, and she is so happy when I pick her up at the end of each day. She is still not walking, but scooting around quite a bit. I honestly believe much of her development was stymied by her experience in the nursery. She was always cranky because she could not get any sleep, so she was always being held. I am so lucky that she was in a center where the workers cared enough to give her what she needed: physical contact. Even though she was cranky, she always felt loved. She is thiiiiis close to walking and takes a few steps unassisted, but still prefers to scoot around on her hands and knees.
  • Everett has been taking one-on-one swim lessons at Gonzaga for the last couple months. I can see an improvement every week, he loves the experience, and he absolutely idolizes his swim coach. Bath time these days has featured him giving his rubber ducks swim lessons. He has also enjoyed the change in our weather, since that means he can play outside and explore.
  •  We planted our cold weather veggies! It will be so nice having healthy food to come home to once everything starts growing. The rhubarb is coming back in full fury, like it always does. I rediscovered this picture from a couple years ago and it continues to crack me up. All that being said, I think I need more rhubarb recipes. Please send them!
  • We are planning some pretty great vacations, so that is exciting. Our camping gear will get a lot of use this summer.
  • Easter came and went. We had a wonderful day surrounded by family, and I did not lose my sanity with all the church obligations that were on my plate. And now it finally feels like spring is officially here. 
For the Easter extravaganza I made Alice and I matching outfits. The boys were maaaybe going to get matching bow ties, but I certainly didn't prioritize it, and I definitely didn't budget for it when ordering fabric. Next year. Maybe. Probably not.

 I had been eyeing the Hanna Andersson matching spring outfits for a while, but hated the idea of throwing down hundreds of dollars. Much of it is sold out now, but I believe the adult skirt was upwards of $80, the t-shirt was $34, the shoes paired with it were well over $200, and the baby dress was $45. Not happening.

I spent less than $40 on fabric from Fabric.com (I still have a TON left), the t-shirt was $7 from Target, and I already had the Saltwater sandals. The skirt pattern was $1 from Joann's, and Alice's dress is a free pattern from The Cottage Mama.

Regarding the picture...Alice had just woke up from a nap (see: hair), I still hadn't brushed my teeth or put on makeup, and Everett was over it. Also, Jeff couldn't figure out how to use the camera. A winning experience for all involved.

Please also take note of the rhubarb plant photo bombing us in the bottom right corner. 

Everett was pretty much head to toe in Cat and Jack. He picked out everything himself, with a small bribe of shark slippers to sweeten the pot. Honestly, I'm shocked that we got him in this outfit since it doesn't have any firetrucks, dump trucks, dinosaurs, or monster trucks on it. Boys. The suspenders were from the dollar bin at Target, and he loved looking like a farmer.

Alice was comfortable in her dress all day. We had a sweater layered over it for most of the day, as Spokane springs are still quite chilly. She even took a couple naps in it without complaints. It should also be noted that she and I wore our outfits all day without the fabric wrinkling. That's a major bonus in my book.

I would say the day was a success, and so were the outfits.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ebble's Favorite Things {Spring}

It's been a while since I have shared all my favorite life things.

BUT you have to know that these Things are truly special to have made the cut. It takes a lot to get me excited about products these days. Between working full time, worrying about the baby at daycare, keeping the house up to snuff, traveling, etc., I have little patience for tediousness. If a book isn't good in the first 10 pages, it gets shelved; if something is cheap but doesn't fit quite right, I won't buy it. So here you have it: ALL the things that are Emily-approved for Spring of 2017.

1. Happy Hannas: Jeff got me a pair of Hanna Andersson pajamas for my birthday this year. I have worn them almost every night since January 1st...and washed them...a handful of times. The kids have been wearing Hannas their whole lives, so it's about time I treated myself. The organic cotton is soooo soft. Comfort is key when it comes to pajamas, and these made coming home from Hawaii a little easier. Hygge Yo' Self and get these jammies! Because, you know, winter is still here.

2. The Year of Living Danishly: Speaking of hygge, don't forget to read this book. It gives great insight into life in another country, and has some pretty good suggestions for how we can do things over here in the U.S.of A.with healthcare, work-life balance, being good people, and so forth. I've read many books in the last year, and this one stood out to me most.

3. Herd Supply Co.: My dear, sweet friend Leah started her own biz making soaps and accessories from her family's herd of sheep. She's totally legit, and even sells her products at her local Whole Foods. I think this is the coolest thing. Ever. You guys, the Cherry Almond soap is everything. Like, orgasm in the nose. I also use the dryer balls she made, and I am super intrigued by the yarn that was spun from her sheep herd - I mean, does it get any cooler than that? Use the discount code STELLA for 10% off your purchase of 2 items or more. Not sure how long her discount code is good, so get it fast.

4. Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen: Spring is almost here! I've done a lot of research on the sunscreen topic, and this was the winner. Leave it to the Australians and their nonexistent ozone layer to make a product that blocks out the sun efficiently. Thanks to my Irish heritage (Happy St. Patrick's Day!) I have incredibly sensitive skin. Some lotions, oils, and gels (including Neosporin) make me break out into hives, so I have to be careful about what I put on my skin. I am also very passionate about not giving my kids cancer, and they have both developed rashes from cheap products. This sunscreen is fantastic and has not given us any issues in the 1+ year we have been using it. The bottle states the product is not waterproof, but we have not had issues with this, even after visiting the beaches and splashing in pools in Hawaii. If that fact causes you anxiety, then it is still perfect for outdoor play, and Honest has a good waterproof option for kids. However, make sure you always carry the bottle with you because it turns pink when exposed to harmful UV rays, and this has been helpful!
5. Microfiber Cleaning Rags: And because spring is almost here, that means it is time for Spring Cleaning! I have a lot of enthusiasm about these rags, so much that I ended up cleaning the whole house the first day I had them. The package I got in store at Target is a little different, but that green one (dark blue in my package)...Incredible. I cleaned the kitchen in about 5 minutes with it. It picks up everything and holds it, where a normal cloth or sponge just moves the crumbs and dirt around. After the baby has a messy meal, I bust out one of these bad boys and we are clean in seconds. BUY THEM. You're welcome.

6. Lululemon Tanks: If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I'm doing an at-home fitness program. With all the sweating + hot yoga I've been doing lately I need a lightweight workout shirt that flatters my mom body and makes me feel good about myself. The top I got myself as a push present after Alice is similar to the one I have linked, but mine has a little more coverage (see pic). I love how light this fabric is, and the loose fit hides my mom belly. I also exercise in a cheapo Target tank I got after having Alice, but I only take that one out of the drawer when I am washing the lulu top. My suggestion is to visit a store and shop for what feels right. Save your dollars because lulu is expen$ive, but I've found that it is also the best for workout gear. But who knows, I might slowly be converting to a fun, new company I discovered...more on that later (unless I decide to keep it as my own secret...mwuahahaha!).

There you have it! All the products I love right now. Check back later for more, and let me know if there is something I should try.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Finding All the Balance

It's the end of another year, and that makes this the perfect time to sit back and reflect on what we did, what we did not do, and what we want to do better in the days going forward. In the spirit of the Zeitgeist, I can honestly say 2016 was one of the hardest years our family has experienced, so we are definitely looking forward to new beginnings. Things will still be hard for a while, but we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

So what have we been doing to find balance during this hectic time of life?

Look forward

I never really get the post-holiday blues, and I think this is because my life so full that I always have something to which I can look forward. Having something fun in sight always keeps me motivated. Even during our darkest days of 2016, I planned family trips to Glacier and the Portland Zoo. When finances were tight, small and budget-friendly ways to fill our days were planned in advance: taking a city bus to the park, walking to story hour at the library, taking hikes, and wildlife watching excursions.

Each Friday, Jeff brought Everett (and sometimes me and the baby when I was on maternity leave) to the Waldorf school for a parent-child class. After each class they would go to a coffee shop or the Donut Parade (RIP) for quality time. Having events on a schedule removes so much daily anxiety. And you are forced to get up, get ready, get out! Our hardest parenting days are the ones we spend cooped up inside with nothing to do.

Put others first

Doing things with kids is never easy. Taking a trip to Glacier with kids is vastly different than the National Parks trips we took a few years ago (we will not be carting 60 lbs of kiddos into the Grand Canyon anytime soon), but Everett soooo appreciated the experience. Even when the wind and rain kept most tourists inside, he wanted to throw rocks into the lake or drive around looking for bears (we saw many!). On a regular basis he asks if we can go to Glacier again. The trip was hard, but it would have been even harder had we not set aside our adult expectations and let the kids have a good time.

I found myself frustrated this Christmas for many different reasons. I was cranky, irritable, and determined to show it! Then I got to thinking, do I want my kids to remember me mad on Christmas day? Do I really want to be selfish and steal away the magic of the day? I did a complete 180 with my attitude, put my family's feelings first, and we had such a great day after that. Turns out empathy feels pretty good.

Make good choices

This year Jeff and I practiced "A Week of [...]" This meant choosing one healthy activity to focus on every day for a week - i.e. monitoring our device usage, eating more servings of fresh and local produce, drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day, drinking tea instead of coffee, exercising daily, going to bed early, etc. By choosing one activity to focus on each week, we were able to create healthier lifestyles for ourselves without the drama.

It's amazing how doing something every day for as short as a week can make the activity essential to your overall health and well-being.

Be creative

Whether you keep a sketchbook, take pictures, write a poem, paint with your kiddos, or sing a song, art and creativity should be a daily part of life. Checking out an art book from the library and trying to replicate a favorite piece of art is a great way to start. Even if it does not look like the original, the process is important.

I try to practice creativity in my job as well. I ask myself, "What can I do today that is new and exciting? How can I make this process faster or easier in the future?" Take the tools you have and go! Maybe watching a YouTube video about Excel spreadsheets is all you need to streamline a mundane task! You never know until you empower yourself with knowledge and creativity, and you will never be creative and knowledgeable without trying.

Focus on the right things

When I look at my full calendar and limited number of nap time hours, I have to say "No" to many things. And guess what...it feels good. This year I did not bake Christmas cookies. I did not plan a huge birthday bash for Everett. I did not go to Costco as often as I should have. I did not clean the shower for 2 months (calm down I did it the other day). I didn't blog...

I chose to put my limited time and energy elsewhere, and I think my kids benefited from having a balanced mother. I had the energy to get up at 5:00 in the morning to exercise, and guess what, I didn't even shower afterwards. Gasp! No one noticed. The shower was dirty anyway.

Never look back

Don't hold grudges. It's just too much weight for a human heart to bear. We are all human, we all have our own viewpoints, and things/people that are different can be scary. Just do what makes you happy and gives you the least amount of anxiety, and stop judging others for their choices if those choices are different from your own. We are more alike than we realize, and we each just have a different way of experiencing the world. Stop hating on my Flow, because I already stopped hating on yours.


So my New Year's Resolution? To keep doing all these things, but to do them exponentially better. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

We did it! We made it to Halloween!

Everybody, now is the time to buy stock in Joann's because I was there DAILY for 2 weeks straight. AND...I finally bought myself a pair of Gingher designer scissors to reward myself for my efforts. Just in time to cut out the eyes for Alice's costume. Worth the money! Use those Joann coupons!

Alice's unicorn was sewn from Simplicity pattern 1032. I admit I did not add the tail or wings for three reasons:
  1. Over it.
  2. She will be in a carrier while we are out getting candy, so what's the point?
  3. Over it.
The wings and the tail are all cut out and ready to be added...but I'm not doing that right now. Maybe next year since the costume will obviously still fit her.

My thoughts on the pattern: it is very basic, simple, and straightforward. I got most of it done in just a few hours. There are a lot of hand sewn elements, but that never bothered me - I actually welcomed the change of pace. For the eyes, I hand sewed them in place, rather than using the zigzag machine stitch suggested in the pattern.

Everett's costume was sewn from Simplicity 1765. For a while he was saying he wanted to be a lion again (Jehovah be praised!), then he changed his mind and asked if I would make him a stegosaurus (womp womp).

The pattern: super straightforward! The feet were the most challenging part. It took me a hot second to figure out how to attach them to the legs, but I managed. The instructions for the bias tape (which houses the ankle elastic) were confusing to me, but I think I was reading them at about 11pm and I'd never used bias tape before. My only #questioningface happened when the pattern instructed me to attach the little front plates with fabric glue. So far they are sticking, but if your kiddo will be wearing this more than one night I suggest stitching around the outside to secure them in place (I did this with one and was over it, but I will do this with all of them once I feel like winding another green bobbin). Also...I didn't line the hood, which is why it looks a little wonky. I know my kid, and don't see him wearing the hood for longer than a couple obligatory pictures (see first picture), so I didn't care to add more steps to the process.

You guys, as long as my kiddo asks me to make him a costume, I will make him one. I think these days are numbered, and I hope the little a-holes his age do not crush his sweet spirit when it comes to Halloween costumes. Today I watched his classmates talk about how they were dressed as bad guys, and they were talking about killing things. Right now my sweet son just wants to be a dinosaur who eats spinach. I'm just over here wondering why 3-year-olds are watching violent movies, but that's just me being judgmental.

Another good Simplicity pattern find from one of my many trips to Joann's: NEMO! Can you even imagine how cute it would be to see a Nemo at your front door? I die! (Maybe Alice will not be a unicorn again next year after all.)

Enjoy your night! Stay safe! Don't slash anyone's tires!
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