Friday, March 6, 2015

Family Update and the February Crud!

Winter decided to come late this year to our little patch of earth. After a very uneventful December and January with snow, we've had a fairly active February. Super cold temperatures, a little snow, wicked wind, and rainy/icy yuck have even the winter hearty (me!) wishing for spring! To cap off our cabin fever, we've been down with the February Crud.

David had fluish symptoms for several days; Sweet Potato had/has goopy eyes, a wicked cough, and runny nose; Pickle had the toughest time with a nasty head cold that ended up as an ear infection. She has the distinctive honor of being the first child in our family to take an antibiotic! Thankfully, Kristin missed the worst of it, but is recovering from caring for everyone else! We've all been loading up on the Vitamin C, probiotics, and diffusing/applying essential oils. Our favorites have been: doTerra's Breathe (no more nasty Vicks for this Mama!) and Chestal by Boiron.

This month we also tried, quite spur of the moment, a grand experiment that has phenomenally flopped! We moved the girls into the same room. In my head this was supposed to work well. They would help each other go to sleep. They would have early morning company. They would be happy and we would all sleep! The reality is our girls need a break from each other. They play all day together. We learn and eat and explore together. Come night-time the last person they wanted to be with was each other! The dislike manifested itself not in bedtime tantrums, but naptime fiascos and daytime meanness. As soon as the weather is warm enough, I'll be painting the old nursery and Caroline will get a new room (again). My goal is to have her settled by mid-March. We'll see if the weather cooperates!

Interestingly, one outcome I did not anticipate is that keeping one bedroom clean is harder than keeping two bedrooms clean. Despite eliminating excess, our bedrooms are too small to allow for each girl to have their own space. The end result is loads of little bits being jumbled together and all of us frustrated because nothing is ever where it should be!

In other news.... Pickle's language is exploding. She's saying words and signing constantly. It's awesome to hear and see. Her favorite words to sign are "baby", "Daddy", and "cookie". Her favorite words to say are "apple", "baby", and "Poppa!". My favorite word to hear her say is "purple". It's amazing how well she says it! Pickle continues to be the "Clean-up Kid". She is regularly found throwing things away or wiping floors with paper towel or a wipe. She remains fascinated by shoes--particularly other people's.

Sweet Potato continues to prove she is a girl of extremes. She can go from extremely helpful to extremely stubborn within nanoseconds. However, whenever she chooses to be sweet and kind and loving, she exhibits these characteristics without abandon and full of enthusiasm. The same is true when she decides to be disobedient, but we'll focus on the positive, right?

We've recently discovered that Sweet Potato can read! While we are definitely encouraging this ability, we aren't pushing it. We're letting her grow into reading at her pace, which basically means we read aloud all the time but aren't "teaching" reading formally. What I currently find baffling is that she will fairly consistently read words like "clock" or "snuggle" but struggle with "the" or "not". Clearly, this area needs more practice but we are having fun with the daily delights of discovery of what she is capable of accomplishing on her own!

As for David and I, we're just trying to stay one step ahead of the girls. We're greatly enjoying sharing more experiences as the girls age, and relishing in their continued independence. David has a busy year ahead as he runs

the library single handedly and teaching a class on game strategies. Additionally, he is participating in a grant program that has him traveling nearby three times this year for almost a week each time. He's excited for this professional opportunity and we girls are excited to do super girly things while Daddy is away! Kristin is enjoying being at home and is excited to plan kindergarten for Sweet Potato! The biggest job on her horizon is helping move the yarn shop to a new location over the next month. It'll be a huge endeavor, but one that is exciting. Plus, now her commute will be cut in half, from 6 miles to 3!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Our Family in the New Year

It's 6:10 am. I've been up since 3:30 am --crying baby who is now peacefully back asleep. I'm on my second cup of tea. There will be many more as the day wears. Dinner is in the crockpot and I have a decent handle on what lies before me. This new year I have been making a conscious effort to stick to routine. Should be easy for my personality, but alas, motherhood has eroded the finer edges of my core traits. Overall, this is a good thing, but there comes a point where laziness needs banishing.

Our family is well. The girls are growing and from my humble opinion thriving! Sweet Potato is mastering new school lessons like a champ, frequently asking to "do school", and living the life with a vibrant imagination. Each day we become more aware of her growing up. She is a delightful girl with a sensitive spirit and loving heart. We are doing our best to protect and nurture that. No small feat in our society! Pickle is teething. She has also started to demand her own way. It isn't pleasant and we are all eager for her to return to her sweet [spunky] self. She loves keeping up with big sister and has a very nurturing spirit. We have nicknamed her "Clean-up Kid" because she will frequently see a spot on the floor, grab a towel and "clean". Talk about making my heart melt!

The Christmas season was quiet and full of good, quality memories. We ate too much, indulged our guilty pleasures in many areas, sat a while with family and learned more about ourselves. Part of that learning, combined with end of the year reflections, helped rejuvenate me to reclaim elements of "me" that have gotten slightly side-tracked. Nothing horribly neglected, just a gentle adjustment needed.

So we started this new year with a few family and personal challenges. We are joining Nourishing Minimalism in moving (or attempting to move) 2,015 items from our home in 2015. I'm happy to say we are over 200! This challenge is less about moving stuff out, as we are fairly good about that already, and more about being away of what comes in.  We have also committed to reading nightly as a family and playing more games. It sounds silly, but we need to be more intentional in these areas because we value them, but other "needs" kept pushing them to the periphery.

Personally, I have set some exercise goals as I need more movement in my life. I also have some personal spiritual goals. There are a few books I want to read and a good deal of scripture study I desire to pursue. Last fall, I was part of a Precepts Bible Study and thoroughly enjoyed it. While, babysitting has become an issue for the next session, there is a part of me that is relishing in the idea of continuing the study, but more independently. Yes, it allows me to indulge my research self without worrying about getting "behind" or pursuing something in which the class isn't interested. Lesson learning: This season is about making the most of what you have. It might not be perfect, but you can still pursue and enjoy things even if unconventionally.

Another personal goal is to drastically knit down my yarn stash. I've been meaning to do this for a while, but lately I've been knitting like a crazy person. In true type-A fashion, I have set myself some deadlines for projects. In conjunction, I'm using my knitting and stash to make more gifts rather than purchasing items. I'm having fun and loving the thrill of projects completed, smiles at receiving something personal, and less yarn in the house. Of course, my reward for making progress and eventually getting my stash to the size I desire will be more yarn, but long gone are the days of just buying for buying sake.

Additionally, a girlfriend and I are also loosely following this guide for 52 weeks of decluttering. For us, it's less about decluttering and more about maintaining. Since we've already downsized in many areas, these challenges are completed much more quickly. It's a great little boost for my list making self! By the way, I'm hiring myself out for organizing/purging needs. My parents have long said I should do this, and while the "going rate" is a hug and a handful of chocolate chips, a few of you are actually taking me up on the offer. Which is both surprising and super cool! I love seeing someone taking control of their space and creating a home which enables them to pursue the true desires of their heart.

In a nutshell, that's us. Life is good, our hearts are filled with love and contentment is the air we breathe.

True contentment is a thing as active as agriculture. It is the power of getting out of any situation all there is in it. It is arduous and it is rare.
~ G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Learning: Contentment in the unexpected corners of my home

Note: This post has been sitting in draft form since May. Time to publish. :-)

Over the past month two small things have occurred in our home with monumental effect to my soul.
  • I rearranged our master bedroom.
Two small, seemingly inconsequential things have created a domino crash within my spirit.

Our Bedroom
Since moving into our home nearly 8 years ago, I've never been satisfied with our room. At first it was the paint color, then the furniture, the lighting, the windows, the narrowness/dimensions, the impossibly small closet, blah, blah, blah. Even after choosing minimalism, I never felt at peace with that space. This is probably most evident by that fact that we haven't had curtains in that room for over 6 years!

David was away the end of April, and I decided to rearrange. Or at least try. Past experience told me that I'd probably be disappointed, but I figured it was worth a shot. Allow me to insert this one aside, I am the queen of self-challenges. Over the past several months, we've been working hard to downsize our combined wardrobes to fit in our little closet and one dresser. The goal further included the storing of all our clothes meaning that nothing would need to be stored seasonally. Before David left we had downsized and nearly eliminated a dresser! While he was gone, I completed the task and managed to only store some bulky sweaters. Score!

With just one dresser, a potential room configuration that made the room look wider versus narrow became apparent. I was thrilled. Delighted. As I sat in my "new" room I suddenly realized how much I loved it. As in, over-the-moon-why-did-I-wait-so-long love. All the frustration was gone and a horizon of new possibilities lay before me.

The Nesting Place
I purchased The Nesting Place shortly after rearranging the master bedroom. It was an early Mother's Day gift to myself. I pretty much devoured it. Myquillyn writes about decorating not for perfection but from a place of imperfection and peace creating. She shares her personal story of housing dissatisfaction and coming to terms with building her nest out of what she had at hand. I'm not entirely sure what enticed me to buy the book. Yes, I have perfectionistic tendencies, but I'm learning to find balance between being a naturally tidy person and not becoming anxious when the bathtub has a scum ring.

Still, as I read her book, I felt my core relaxing. I started noticing things in our home that I could change. So giddy with the joy of our new room, I had taken to sitting in our room to read, which is where, with The Nesting Place in hand, I started to dream anew. I've wanted to repaint the walls for a couple years, but I saw the time investment, the taping, and the fear of what if I picked the wrong color (because frankly I was currently living with the wrong color)!?! With Myquillyn's words lingering in my h
ead, "It's just paint." I decided to go for it. And not only did I paint, I started shopping my home for things we already had to decorate. I completely let go of perfectionism when I had David hang our antique mirror on it's side-- even though there is a clear top and bottom. I still need to source curtains, a lamp and some bedside tables, but you know what? I LOVE IT!

I love the early sunlight streaming in next to my pillow, the birdsongs late at night, the breeze ruffling our sheets, the calmness and cleanness of our space. Our room finally has a sense of welcoming peace.

Pulling it Together
I've never considered myself a discontented person, but these last few weeks have taught me a great deal. For starters, I love our home. I love the natural light, the crispness, and the "smallness" of it. I adore the worn and weathered mezuzah on our doorposts. I love having neighbors who we can help when an emergency french braid is needed or mid-afternoon walk is required to burn energy. Yes, there are lots of things I'd like to change, but I finally don't feel as though these "imperfections" are defects to our home.

All this shiny-new-release-of-contentment has led to a rather big decision. We've decided to stop looking for a new house. Yes, all these years we've kept our eyes open. Walked through 100s of homes. Dreamed about new layouts, better configurations, etc. We've held off on projects because we don't want to overprice our house. We've watched market values rise and fall and level out all while holding our breath. Now, in seemingly a blink, we're done.

Will we one day move? Perhaps. But at this point, that's a long way off. Our little home affords us such luxury. Luxury not in square footage or even ideal layout, but in finding beauty in the imperfectness of it all. Joy in the natural wonders our home allows us to experience, like brunches with co-workers, mini college reunions, memorable family gatherings and a chance for life to grow and bloom amongst the cracks.
"People always think that happiness is a faraway thing," thought Francie, "something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains - a cup of strong hot coffee when you're blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you're alone - just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness."   
from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Great Unloading, Part 2

Okay, so after a brief re-evaluating (and my minimalist need to move this stuff out of my house!) here are the final lots. FREE! First come, first served. Many of these items were bought but have since lost their purpose for me. So I'd love to pass along to someone who will use them! 

If you see something you want, please let me know. Because after this I can't promise it's fate. 

LOT #1: Price-- FREE

  • Ultra Alpaca   Color 6262 Lot 801  3 skeins + 1 balled skein never used
  • Mini Mochi Color 105 Lot 75   1 skein + 1 gently used ball (read: I started to knit and decided nope never gonna finish and frogged!)
  • Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering Weight  Lichen 1 skein
  • Namaste Oh Snap! Bag (one medium and one small) The large one is missing. Sorry!
  • Blue Knit Carry with Top Grommet

LOT #2: Price-- FREE

  • Ocean Breezes Knitted Scarves inspired by the Sea by Sheryl Thies (Book)
  • Interweave Knits Spring 2007 (Magazine)
  • Jane Austen Knits 2011 (Magazine)
  • Knit Wear Spring 2012 (Magazine)

LOT#3: Price--FREE

  • Large Swift from Joanne Fabrics
  • Dream in Color Groovy Alpine Flurry Jan/Dec. Dream Club from a few years ago
  • Dream in Color Starry Midnight Derby Note: This is a very early starry and the metallic isn't as "bright" as the current version

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Great Unloading, Part 1

It's official. I'm de-stashing my stash. I've got a host of randomness from bags and yarn to a few other knitting "essentials". Over the next week or so, I'll be up loading pictures. If you want something, let me know. First come, first served (thank you time-stamp). Prices listed include all items in the photo. Some items will be sold as groups. If you live far away, please know shipping will be extra. Everything has been stored in my smoke-free, pet-free home.

So let's get started....

Namaste Zuma bag in Gray. This is a discontinued style.

Namaste Buddy Case in Lime. Discontinued style. Similar to their Better Buddy.

Sky Yarn by Tahki Stacy Charles (Ravelry link) Original price: $7.50

Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed (Ravelry link) Original price: $10.00

Hikoo's Caribou (Ravelry link) Original price per skein: $7.25

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Resurrection Sunday!

Early church, bellies full of food, family time, egg hunts and Easter baskets. A great day remembering and relishing in all the good gifts God gives and the greatest gift He gave!