Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Months of Making

It's been a while since this space has been updated. A lot has happened in the last few months: holidays, ski trips, birthdays, and making memories. I think these days of the kids being young, innocent, and happy will be our best. As challenging and busy as this life can be, it is so rich, so full of good things.

I have dedicated a lot more time to creating things these past few months. Starting with Everett's Halloween costume. Luckily I didn't have to put too much work into it, and I was able to add wings to his dinosaur costume from last year to create a dragon.

There were wings that came with the Simplicity 1765 dinosaur costume pattern, but I just could not get them to look right, and Everett seemed pretty bummed by the way they turned out. So I decided to go rogue and design them myself to create a more cape-like effect - something I thought he would love since all his friends would be dressed like superheroes.

Yes, I wear Christmas pajamas all year. 

I used the costume for dimensions, added a seam allowance, then cut 4 pieces of the hand-drawn wings. After sewing the right sides together leaving the large (body) sides open, I trimmed the seams, turned right-side out, pressed, then top stitched around the outside of the wings to give it a finished look. To attach the wings to the body, I pressed down the large/body/open sides a bit to close off that last area of the wings, attached them to the body near the original costume seams, then did my best to stitch along the original lines. A couple hand stitches along the shoulders, arms, and wrists finished the look.

Alice's unicorn costume from last year still fit like a glove. She was just the sweetest. I died every time she walked up to a door and said, "Tricky Treat."

It was a fun and crazy Halloween! Someone please remind me to take the afternoon off work next time though, because feeding two littles and getting them dressed before the chaos began was a little much.

Other highlights from our autumn included harvesting all our squash, making pumpkin pie with said squash, preserving seeds for next year, visiting the arboretum, planting hundreds of bulbs for spring blooms, Everett's first Harry Potter symphony concert, walks in the leaves, beginning the wallpaper removal process, and Everett starting a new school.

Even in times of struggle, may you always find ways to create in your life, may you always find joy in the ones you love, and may you remember these times with fondness.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book Club {Self-Help}

Mama's been reading a lot of self-help and nonfiction books recently. Before you start rolling your eyes and wondering if I am a loon (the answer is YES), please know I am not having a nervous breakdown or anything. My wits are still about me, and we are all managing life pretty darn well, despite the fact that we cannot seem to stop getting sick.

It's just that there is sooo much going on in the world, and I kind of feel like my emotions and thoughts are being controlled by others. Not in a #fakenews sense, but maybe kinda? I don't really know. What I DO know is that I've read some really good books about life, parenting, and relationships in the last few months, and they have given me some great tools to make me feel like I have control over my actions, thoughts, and emotions. Because you only have one life, so why should you live it in fear and uncertainty?

I am not perfect, and I do not follow every word of these books every moment of my life. Some of them admittedly do not resonate with me in every chapter. For example, I don't hate my kids and I am not cheating on my husband. However, I love reading about the experiences of others, how these individuals engage with the world during these events, and how I can equip myself with tools for dealing with moments of stress and uncertainty.

Love Warrior: This book spoke to my soul. I started reading it, not realizing it was a memoir, and could not believe how much I identified with what was written. It was like reading my diary, even though I don't have one, but a hypothetical diary. I am not sure if men would be able to relate to Glennon Doyle, but I think it would be helpful for them to see a woman's world through an honest lens. I am a huge Glennon fan. There is a reason she is so successful, and that is because she is wise AF. You go Glennon Coco!

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind the Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living: This book would most likely resonate with working moms or Pinterest moms. I will warn you that there are some Christian themes, and she kind of bashes other denominations at one point. However, once you move past the God stuff it has some really great advice. And if you are a Christian you will love the way she integrates faith into her daily life. God or no God, this book is a keeper.

The Danish Way of Parenting: I've talked about The Year of Living Danishly on this blog before. I do not want to sound redundant, so I will not list it again. However, it was a very eye-opening book for me. Wanting to dig deeper into Danish life philosophies, I thought it would be helpful for us to learn how Danish principles are manifested in parenting. The Danish Way of Parenting dramatically changed the way we interact with our children. I do not want to hype it up tooooo much, but to me this book is a major key to successful parenting. Give me all the hygge. 

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk: Jeff and I are only a few chapters in on this one, but we have already learned so much. What I like about this book is how the parents can do exercises together. The author describes scenarios, and the parents then discuss the different ways the problem can be addressed. Jeff is a counselor, and he is constantly saying, "This is good stuff."

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame: This is the first parenting book we purchased, and I discovered it at a good time in our lives. Everett was a busy toddler who threw tantrums left and right, and I needed Janet Lansbury's words of wisdom to assure me that I wasn't raising a complete psychopath. Because let's face it, toddlers rock your world in a way you never thought possible, and they question every form of reason you thought came programmed in the human brain. Janet taught me to embrace Everett's independence, and to frame it as a successful tool that he will need during his life. Not all of her stuff has worked for us, so if there are any other Janet Lansbury fans out there I would love to hear how you implement her ideas!

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: Don't let the four-letter word in the title scare your delicate self away. I think everyone would benefit from reading this book. I do not have much in common with Mark Manson, but he is very wise. This book is about taking responsibility for your life, prioritizing what matters most, and accepting consequences for your choices. Read it! There is a reason it is a bestseller.


So there's my list! I've read others that didn't make the cut (you guys, Brene Brown is better at TED Talks than books, and Bringing Up Bebe is cruel and heartless after reading The Danish Way of Parenting). Let me know if there are any more I should read! I am also always looking for good fiction.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Snapshots 08.29.17

Years ago my dear friend Stacey gifted me a packet of lavender seeds for Christmas. I planted them at our old house and loved having them. The bees flocked to them in summer, and the dog often smelled of lavender after walking through them to visit with the neighbors on the other side of the fence. 

I was able to extract lavender seeds from those plants and started a few seedlings at the new house. Only one has survived so far because I forgot to have a friend water them when we were out of town for 2 weeks, and that plant is now being smothered by pumpkin vines. Fingers crossed!

Just in case we lose our beloved lavender forever, we stole a few stalks from the old house before we left. Now they adorn the windowsill above our kitchen sink - along with some rocks we found at the ocean, and a flower Everett picked for me.

I have always wanted to plant coneflowers, and Jeff's mom and I found these on clearance. Now is a great time to plant echinacea. It's another one bees love. Everett was fascinated watching this bee do his job on these flowers.

Progress on our front yard. The MIL planted some Annabelles for us. Having her around is like having a good little house elf. I can't wait to see these bloom over the next few years.

We have spent almost every evening outside enjoying these beautiful summer days. I am looking forward to fall, but sure will miss all the colors of summer. 

Scavenger hunt and magnifying glass in the park.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Summer Staycation

Last week I was supposed to play the role of "Solo Cool Mom" on a backpacking trip through the wilderness. I had been planning this trip for almost a year, I have been training for it since December, I bought a new backpack and had everything packed and ready to go. But sometimes life happens and you randomly get mastitis.

Life occasionally hands you lemons. I believe the only solution is to make the most of what you have. Jeff's mom was in town to help out with the kids (you know, because I was going to be gone), and it was wonderful getting to visit with her.

She made us pesto, planted some new plants for us, made us meals, played with us, and kept us sane. 

In retrospect, it was a good thing for me to stay home. I got to rest, relax, and rejuvenate - all of which I clearly needed having developed mastitis. I was so sick that before my MIL came my mom had to help us out every day (there was one day I just slept in her bed all day while she occasionally brought me food in bed, medicine, and Gatorade).

Here is my mom advice for the week: make sure you have people in your life who are willing to help in times of trial. Surround yourself with people who raise you up and inspire you to do good things. It's easy to get stuck in a rut, but when we moms have a village, we can accomplish anything.

Shout out to all the moms out there, especially my moms.

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!
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