Houseaversary: Year One

Last week we celebrated a year of living in our house. And by ‘celebrate’ I mean that I’m pretty sure we had dinner that day together. I think. It was a really busy week, I can’t be sure and I don’t really remember. (I think we’ll celebrate this week. Maybe. Okay, next week for SURE.)

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Our House. Right when they accepted our offer.

When I think about this time last year, all I can remember is STRESS. There was so much of it. I mean…SO MUCH. There was all the regular moving stuff like packing and cleaning and OMG the paperwork from hell. Plus, a LOT had to be done before we could move in. Do you remember the old paint? Holy ugly. (But kinda fun to look at. Since it doesn’t look like that at all now, duh.)

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But you guys, the past year has been pretty great. I mean, we have this space that felt like home as soon as our paint was on the walls and our stuff was in the rooms. (Also, the new carpet. Because YES TO NEW CLEAN CARPET.) It so amazing to share this space with our family and friends. It’s been so special to see my kids build a life here. This space, this HOME, that I never thought I would have.

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We kinda like it here. I’m not sure you’ve probably noticed.

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Every so often, The Dude and I worry that our kids never had a house that they lived in for the majority of their childhood. We’ve only lived here for a year and the kids are 12 and 16. But somehow I know that they will remember this house as home base once they’ve gone off to college and started their own lives. We have happy memories from wherever we’ve lived. And I’m so, so glad for that. But there’s a part of me that hopes they (especially) never forget how much fun this past year has been and love the memories we’re making here. It’s been pretty gosh-darn wonderful.

Weekend Wedding

A little over a week ago, these two crazy adorable kids got married.

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I could go on and on about how beautiful it was. But, I mean…even my iPhone pictures can show that story.

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From start to finish, we had such a good time. Like, a really really good time.

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The beautiful bride with me and my beautiful girls.
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No really, he’s happy!

 It’s so beautiful when you can see how much a family loves. These two are bringing together some pretty amazing families.

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 As wonderful as it was to celebrate this amazing couple and their fantastic families (of which I am blessed to be a part of) I can’t even begin to tell you how completely amazing it was to have so much fun with my cute little family. We danced the ENTIRE time. We laughed and joked. Did I mention we danced the entire time? YES! EVEN MY HUSBAND!

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My goodness you guys…we had a blast.

We should have weddings at least once a month.

The Day Off Dilema

I took the day off work to get things done around the house. When your weekends are spent elsewhere (softball tournaments, etc) and you work full time, tackling household projects is especially challenging. Even when we do have weekends off, we have to make a choice between doing something fun with the family or…chores. Our weekdays are usually so packed, a little downtime on the weekends is extremely necessary. So we tackle a little more than the bare minimum so we’re not living in squalor and filth.

I promise we’re not living in squalor and filth, but damn, I have a lot to do.

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But this morning is quiet. The Dude had an early morning so I’ve been up for hours surfing Facebook and watching the Today Show. I’ve been drinking (too much) coffee. (See above: up early.) I’m sitting on the couch just giving myself a chance to enjoy not rushing off to the next thing and letting my kids sleep in upstairs. It’s really, really nice.

But even just sitting here, I can’t just sit here. I was reading. Or Facebooking. Or (now) blogging.

And actively avoiding housework. Whatever.

In a few minutes, I’ll turn into the mean mom and wake up the kids. I’ll enforce the chore lists. I’ll hear “but I don’t want to” or “I did it last time” arguments about why they shouldn’t have to do a particular job. I’ll have to convince myself to do a particular job, let’s be honest. I’m also supposed to find time to do something with all of these apricots. (We’ll see if that actually happens.) (It probably won’t happen.) It will be such a busy day, it won’t feel like a day off at all.

It never does.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining. I’m obviously terrible at just sitting still. I mean, I could’ve gone back to bed a couple of hours ago and I didn’t. I could’ve sat quietly on the couch doing nothing and I didn’t. Here I am not doing “nothing” again. I’m obviously part of the problem. Or the root of the entire problem. Something.

Either way, I don’t have time to debate it. I have bedding to wash, floors to scrub, closets to clean out, grocery shopping to do, ceiling fans to dust and Gilda to blame for it. I’m swamped!

Finding Summer in My Own Backyard

Saying YES to summer hasn’t looked like I thought it would. More pool time, like I promised. We’ve been good at that. We haven’t done quite as many Campfire Wednesdays as we hoped but we’re working on it. We seem to be spending A LOT more time with one another, which is so rad I can’t even begin to tell you. But…I have become really attached to my own back yard.

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I’ve never been known for my green thumb or even wanting to have a green thumb. But this suburban orchard I’ve inherited has been both overwhelming and so damn good for my soul. But did I mention it’s a little overwhelming? Oh good. Because it is a little overwhelming at times.

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PLUMS

Apricots and plums are coming out of our ears. I’m not mad about it. But I’m learning a lot this time around since it’s our first season with all of this…abundance. There are things that I’ll do SO different next year. We also know a little bit more about trimming down the right way and parsing down the fruit so it’s even better quality. The fruit is delicious. But I think with even more TLC and knowhow, we’ll have better success with ALL of this!

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I almost can’t even explain the joy I have had going out in the backyard in the morning to pull fruit from the trees in our yard. Or sharing our abundance of apricots and plums. I’ve never really experienced it in this way. I mean, I’ve never had my own suburban orchard. So there’s that.

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Last week, after a particularly frustrating day, I came home from work in a pretty foul mood. I was so relieved to be home. Even if I did announce as I walked in that I wasn’t cooking dinner. (It happens.) (I’m just not going to talk about the frequency that it happens.) With leftovers from the previous days and hosting family, I got it in my head that a fancy cheese plate was the only answer. Sure, I could’ve just dumped all the packages and ingredients on the counter, but taking the few minutes to make something nice for myself was a luxury that made all the difference in the world.

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The four of us found our way out to the backyard with the “fancy” cheese plate and any leftovers we could find and had the most delicious and relaxing evening you could imagine. It soothed the soul after a crummy day. The kids read or we talked or listened to music. Sarah stopped by with jam (that will literally knock your socks off) made from our suburban orchard fruit! (No really. You have to try this)

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We sat there laughing and talking. We maybe finished a bottle of wine. I was so bummed when it got too dark, I wanted to stay out there all night long.

But it was the perfect lesson to saying yes to summer more. It doesn’t have to be a “fancy” cheese plate. (Although, three nights in a row last week, I just couldn’t say no to them.) It made a world of difference that I just took a few minutes to make it special. It was enjoying my own backyard and being (SO!) grateful for what I have and for the amazing people in my life. THAT is what makes summer so magical. And if I can take those few minutes as often as I can, this summer is already winning it all.

 

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(Yes. We are totally going to keep talking about the apricot pepper jam that Sarah made with the apricots. I have put it on EVERYTHING. Just thinking about it now makes me so happy. Stay tuned, folks.)

 

The Adorable Side of World Cup Soccer

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I know we didn’t LOSE yesterday, but every time I see a replay of that stupid header goal in the last 30 seconds of the game, I break out in hives. I don’t know how we escaped yesterday without taking any pictures, but we had the BEST time hanging out with friends. And stuffing our faces. (I’m still full, guys.) Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a BLAST watching games with some of our very favorite people. Lunch breaks at KBAR. Breakfast at one of our favorite taquerias? My uncle has created this incredible watching experience and I love that he includes us all.

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I have to say, one of the funniest parts of hanging out with the family, is when my (husband’s) uncle introduces me as his niece. I’m not saying they don’t believe him. I’m just saying their expressions are funny. Sure, he could introduce me as his nephew’s wife, but I love that he doesn’t.

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we are adorable

 

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I mean COME ON with this. We are freaking hilarious.

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no cigarettes were smoked in the making of the blog post (they’re candy, for crying out loud)

You know you want to hang out and watch soccer with us.

 

Ramona: Age 12

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Twelve just sounds really old.

I obviously know how old my kids are. I really do know how to do math. But for some reason, Ramona’s jump from 11 to 12 yesterday knocked the wind out of me. It’s not that her new and updated age took me by surprise. It’s just…no, I’m lying. It somehow totally took my by surprise. I’m constantly amazed by how fast time flies. At this point in my parenting career, I should really be used to it.

For various reasons, I worried about how much fun Ramona would have celebrating her birthday. With her big day falling right in the middle of her two weeks of spring break and then a family filled, Easter weekend, we didn’t have too many options and will be having her birthday “event” in May. At some point. On a weekend that is NOT Mother’s Day or the weekend I’m not out of town. (Sigh.)

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yes, she is pointing a sling-shot at me

Don’t get me wrong, I really do think she had a great time yesterday. I mean she practically had a breakfast of gummy bears and worms as we visited a fabulous new candy store downtown. (LOVE them.) We had a Starbucks date, her and I. A visit to one of her favorite people. Her best friend was able to get out of school early yesterday and hang out with us for the afternoon. They were pampered with pedicures, just the two of them. (Which I neglected to get a picture of. Mom FAIL.)

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there are only 10 candles…another MOM FAIL

We had celebrated April birthdays with my side of the family over the weekend while everyone was in town, but my inlaws were able to come over for a nice, little dinner. I was also so glad that some family that lives so close could come over for birthday cake. (That Beezus made. From scratch. It was amazing and DELICIOUS.)

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the beautiful, vanilla layered cake made with a LOT of hard work by the big sister

I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for the people in my life that love my kids so much. I am so blessed with family (and friends who are family) who make my kids feel so special. This kid is so loved. Plus, that look on her face? Makes me so damn happy. She is just the coolest chick ever.

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I love her

Dance Parties, Walls and Finding Home

When my kids were little, living room dance parties was just something we did and a huge part of who we were. I can vividly remember the girls being so little and getting down and getting funky as only toddlers and preschoolers can. The Now and Then soundtrack was on constant rotation back in those days. Sugar, Sugar was our jam. (There is also sugar IN jam. So that sentence seems oddly appropriate.)

Life happens in strange ways sometimes, though. We found ourselves selling our house and, not long after, we moved in with my in-laws. My husband started a business and went back to school. Nothing was the same and everything was up in the air. Our routines were 100% disrupted. Traditions that we used to have went by the wayside. Being a parent in my own home became difficult.

Just being myself became difficult.

During that time, very rarely was I a “relaxed” mom that could have fun with my kids. I have a lot of regrets about the kind of mother I was back then, but my biggest regret was not being able to let my guard down. If ever I want to drive myself to the brink of insanity, I can try to imagine the mom I *could’ve been* if I could’ve been the mom that I started out to be. In fact, just typing that sentence caused an elephant come sit on my chest. Regret is an ugly, ugly reality.

A tragic casualty of not being able to be myself was the lack of dance parties in our family. It just wasn’t the same. *I* wasn’t the same. Letting go and letting loose wasn’t something I could do under the circumstances. I realize that you can still be a decent and wonderful human being without dance parties, but it was more than that. It was almost like we lost the ability to truly feel joy. In my opinion, dancing exemplifies joy. And when you are lost in life, you don’t always know what joy looks like. Even if you know that it used to look like dance parties, etc.

I was devastated the first time I realized that I had allowed this part of my girls’ childhood to be locked up. I remember times that I tried to get them to dance at a wedding or a party and it was like I was asking them to pull off their own toes. I already have plenty of guilt of being such a young mom and how hard it was to raise tiny humans. Now I found myself feeling guilty for so much more.

Years passed before the four of us found ourselves with a little more freedom to be ourselves. It was a breath of fresh air, but it would take quite some time before we could feel comfortable with letting our guard down. In fact, it would take years. There’s even a part of me that believes that a shift began to happen when Paisley joined our family. I know, I know…that sounds a little nuts. But that fuzzy little muppet thawed something inside all of us. Being completely goofy over a pet can help tear down some pretty strong barriers.

But it’s when we bought and moved into our new home last summer when I saw the biggest shift of all. Even with all the weirdness and orange walls, we somehow knew we were home from the beginning. To this day, several months later, I can’t explain how much I love coming home every day. When I turn on our street, I breathe a sigh of relief. The gratitude is immeasurable. Because everything I ever wanted for my family (and was never sure I would get) is in this home. For 16+ years, I dreamed of having this feeling. For 16+ years, I wished and prayed for this soft place to land.

I try really hard to not have regret. I do. I really do. I try to be present and be grateful for all that we have now. But there is a piece of my heart that is broken for all the years that we didn’t have this feeling of contentment and peace. I feel sadness for the years that our family was so uprooted and a little bit lost.

The past few months, the shifts and the changes that I’ve seen in my family have been something to behold. I hesitate to use a word like magical, but it just the word I want to use right now. Life isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not supposed to be. But when you can visibly see walls that were built up start to crumble, you take notice. When you can see your children allow themselves to be a tiny bit more vulnerable and open, there’s this sense of relief that can’t be explained. And while the dance parties haven’t returned quite yet, singing at the top of our lungs has. It’s different than our loud music days in the car. It’s wearing your heart on your sleeve, pure joy in a song, belting out as loud as you can singing that only comes from being silly and the freedom if being ourselves. And being ourselves feels so damn good. I’ve really, really missed it.

Why You Should Never Use the Olympics to Keep Track of Time

My husband and I watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics last night. I know that you are completely shocked by us watching anything Olympics, but sometimes we actually do watch TV together. (If this was an email or text, this would be the part where I’d put a winking smiley face.)

With the 2014 Winter Olympics now over, there were segments about the next (2018) Winter Olympics and, of course, the 2016 Summer Olympics.

You can’t help but think about where you’ll be in the next two or four years. (I have A LOT of Olympic watching to schedule into my life, folks.) How old will I be? How old will my kids be?

Sigh.

Yeah…THAT question.

For the 2016 Summer Olympics, Beezus will be home for the summer from her first year away at college. Ramona? Yeah Ramona will be getting ready to start her first year of high school. HIGH. SCHOOL.

The next time we see the Winter Olympics? Beezus will be 20. TWENTY. Ramona will (theoretically) be driving.

My head didn’t even have time to explode. It fell clean off.

This is why no one likes math. Once you learn to count, it’s all over. Counting things make you realize how awful it is to use the Olympics as a measurement of time. Or to track parenting years and milestones. It’s horrifying. I began to rethink my love for all things Olympics.

I couldn’t even help myself. When all these montages that felt like time machines floated across my TV, I looked at my husband and said “Beezus is going to be home from her first year of college when it’s time for the summer Olympics.”

He stared straight ahead at the TV for a bit and then said, “That is so sad.”

I sometimes forget how hard this is on the papas, too.

Maybe it’s good that the Olympics are over. We’ve been…obsessed. Our TV has been on so much, I think my brain is beginning to ooze out my ears. I’m also way too emotionally involved in all these athletes. And yes, Olympic math makes you realize just how fast time will fly. I don’t need any other reminders.

I can torture myself without any help, thank you.

Cooking: a time and a place

I made a batch of apple butter this weekend. No one is more surprised than I am that I pulled it off but I have honestly been stepping outside my kitchen comfort zone. Okay, I stepped outside of it TWICE in the past month, but still. APPLE BUTTER WAS MADE.

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I know that, for some of you, this doesn’t sound like a huge deal. But for me? Well, at some point in the past 10 years, I’ve convinced myself that I’m a terrible cook. I’m not saying I’m chef material, but it was a pretty harsh statement when in reality, I’m just really effing busy. I think that when I added “mother of two” to the list of jobs that I possessed, cooking became a really big chore. I just simply didn’t have time for it. By the time I got home from work…well, cooking loses all it’s fun when you don’t even have time to go to the bathroom by yourself.

Life just got busier and busier. And my time and patience for cooking fell further away. I still had a few things that I could cook well, but that wasn’t very exciting. And then, by fault of me caring too much about what other people thought, I felt very self-conscious about my cooking. I had gone from She Who Doesn’t Have Time to She Who Cannot Boil Water.

(Note: my husband and children have always been very sweet about my cooking. As such, their opinions still matter. Some.)

At some point in the past year, I have found that I enjoy cooking. Not all the time. (I’m still effing busy.) But I have found that I love finding that creative side of me when cooking something up in the kitchen. I have tried to make things that I’ve had in restaurants even if I don’t have a recipe. (I maybe try this more often with adult beverages, but whatever IT’S PRACTICE.) I find a recipe I want to try, but I always tweak it to my taste. And when I started to panic (again) that my grandmother won’t live forever and I still hadn’t figured out how to make her apple butter, well…I finally did it. No, it’s not as good as hers (how could it be) and I didn’t make it like she does, but dammit. I made it. For whatever reason, that’s a taste of my childhood and it was super important to me to know how to make it when it comes time for my gram to…retire her apple butter making skills.

I know. It’s just apple butter. But it represents what can happen when I stop thinking the worst of myself and I get out of my own way. In doing so, I have this special (delicious) memory that I can continue and pass on. It’s a step in the right direction.

Or outside the kitchen comfort zone.

Life Without Pinterest is Like a Night…Without Pinterest. (Or Blogging.)

Last night, I admitted to Sarah that I hadn’t been on Pinterest in weeks. She was understandably shocked. Quite honestly, I didn’t know that my Pinterest Vacation had lasted so long. But when you’re spending every spare moment on a new adventure? Well, I guess time just flies. With, or without, Pinterest.

This, maybe, applies to this right here blog of mine.

And so here we are.

To catch up? I had a really amazing Thanksgiving, thankyouverymuch. We started the day with Run to Feed the Hungry. I don’t know why we had such a great run, but we had a freaking blast. Maybe it’s because we’re so cute.

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Thanksgiving dinner was spent with most of my siblings, my cute family and my inlaws. And you know what? It was pretty gosh darn fantastic. And wonderful. And I loved every minute of it. Even if I didn’t get a chance to shower after the race. (Good news is that I showered BEFORE. That was lucky. And a lot planned.)

The next day, we set out to find the biggest Christmas tree ever. Okay, not ever…but the only thing I asked for Christmas was a huge tree. So we made our way up to Apple Hill…along with a million other people…and braved the weather. And by “weather” I mean it was, like 9 million degrees. Which, if you think about it, is pretty odd weather for picking out a Christmas Tree. But we were on a mission and powered through! We would not be sidetracked! Even if we were wearing WAY too many clothes and probably suffered from heat stroke at one point or another. The hugest Christmas tree needed to be found!

However…the tree farm we settled on, didn’t have the huge trees we were thinking we would find. By that time, we had searched for quite some time. So I settled on what I thought was a nine foot tree. Maybe the family would just have to buy me an actual present, too, since the tree wasn’t GINORMOUS. But as it turns out? It was actually a little more than ten feet. And turned out to be the perfect size for our front room windows. The star perfectly looking out the top windows.

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Also, did you KNOW you had to stand on ladders to decorate ten feet trees? I may have had some nervousness tackling the top of the tree with lights. Okay, I may have had sweaty palms and shaky legs as I leaned from the ladder to those top boughs.

Ten feet is a wicked good start to my tall tree obsession.

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Also, remind me to tell you how weepy it can get when you start hanging all the “Baby’s 1st Ornaments” and realize just how long ago that was. Time, you’re an asshole.

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Speaking of time…it is now December 12th. I haven’t purchased one Christmas present and I’m pretty fine with that. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I know it will get done. I know there will (eventually) be presents under our tree. And I’m even pretty sure that my cute family will like what will be wrapped and ready for them. You know, when I actually find time to go shopping.

It’ll happen. It will.

In the meantime, I’m really enjoying the NOT shopping. It’s good for my soul.

Also, this book has nothing to do with anything. Except it’s it DOES. Because who wouldn’t want to read THIS?

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Have a great (almost) weekend, everyone.