Life lately: Home land

I’m already seeing back-to-school displays, and it feels like the summer just started. Hard to believe August here.

We spent May and June selling our south Seattle house and buying one in Renton, a suburb south of the city. Selling was no trouble as the buyers we worked with were eager and excited to buy our house, and they were genuinely nice people and easy to work with throughout the process.

The buying process, on the other hand, was just short of a nightmare. The sellers of our new house were unpleasant and difficult. After a few unforeseen complications, we finally closed on July 3rd and have been unpacking and getting settled ever since.

All that being said, we absolutely love this house. And more than just the house, we love the neighborhood, the neighbors and having a private backyard. Even the small annoying things, like the one toilet we can’t get to work in the very outdated bathroom, doesn’t bother me. I couldn’t say that about our Seattle house. No matter how updated the rooms became, there were so many things that just didn’t feel right: the flow from room to room, the layout of various rooms, that it was taking forever to fix up and update…the lack of neighborhood, community and yard privacy, among other issues.

But THIS house feels like–no, IS, HOME. The moment I walked in, I knew it. We were touring the master bedroom when I said to our broker: This is it. This is the house. He asked what about the house made me feel that way. “Everything,” I said. “The smell, the energy, the layout of rooms, the clean design, the mid-century bones updated timelessly. The yard.”

The yard was important because Maxine has so much extra energy to burn off, it provides her fresh air to do that. It provides her with a garden to meet fairies, to plant trees or fruits, to pick berries and apples and figs. It provides her a safe space to explore and pretend. And it allows us as a family a space to be outside more, to eat outside, to host outside. We absolutely treasure the backyard.

I’m sitting outside on the covered patio under cafe lights, listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. In the back of the garden, I can see the fairy house Maxie put out last week, with (LED) tea lights, to attract our flighty friends. Our neighbors are social but respectfully quiet. It’s truly a magical experience to live here, and I am grateful every day for the opportunity.

 

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Maui Wowi!

in the Garden of Eden, Maui, Hawaii | January 2018

Hello, friends! Happy Wednesday – it’s hump day!

I’m sitting here looking out at majestic Lake Washington. The sun and clouds are battling for Seattle’s sky real estate right now. I’m not sure which will win (I hope it’s the sun!). I am so excited that we are just a couple of days away from February. It’s the month that’s still considered fully winter but provides a glimpse of spring with daffodil and tulip teasers popping up from below ground.

I’m so glad to see 2017 behind us. It was a really good year because baby Flora was born in February. But it was also a difficult year with the deaths of five family members and two friends, a saddened state of our Union, and saying goodbye to our kitty, Dandy who found a new home with a really lovely but lonely woman in our neighborhood. I also went back to work. Going back to work was great for me personally, but a huge logistical nightmare with the high cost and low availability of high-quality childcare and preschools. But we are leaving all that to the past. It’s a new year!

We have a few exciting plans lined up for 2018. Nathan and I started off the year with a week on Maui with my sister and brother-in-law. Have you been? We went on our honeymoon a few years ago, but because I was sick we didn’t see nearly enough of the county. It’s a very spiritual place to be in. My favorite part of the trip was the 12-hour day driving the Road to Hana and back. It was pure restoration for the soul. I’m wishing I were back there now… We also saw a tropical plantation, took a snorkel/whale-watching sail (which made me sick), ate deliciously fresh seafood and drank not-strong-enough cocktails. (It was always my dream to have cocktails by the pool, which I finally achieved.) We took photos, enjoyed pool time, and rested. I think I even slept for 12 hours the first night we were there. It was total heaven.

Two big events happened in Maui.

The first was that I was notified of my acceptance into the University of Washington’s Information School Master’s program. This is also one of our exciting plans in 2018. The program (ranked 2nd in the nation!) officially begins in September, though the new-admit wooing of “welcome days” and similar events are already starting. I applied to the program with one objective in mind but before the UW iSchool ever offered me admission, I became undecided. There are so many wonderful career paths to take – librarian, information architect, content strategist, metadata librarian, curator… I really don’t know where to begin. I feel like a Freshman in college all over again! I plan to talk more about this adventure in future posts.

The other big event that happened while we were in Maui was the false alert of a ballistic missile threat. Those minutes were the most terrified I have ever been in my life. I cannot emphasize enough what that fear felt like. I remember wondering if I was in a movie and how much more terrifying it felt than simply watching a movie. Actors don’t do justice to that kind of true fear. Or the deep sadness in believing you won’t see your children again. Or the possibility of being separated from your spouse among tsunami waves – or worse, vaporizing radiation. In the movies, you always expect a happy ending, and in this situation I didn’t. It was horrifying. It happened the day before we left, so when we had to leave Maui, I wasn’t a bit sorry. When we eventually got the “all clear” that the alert was a mistake, I cried for an hour. I still have some post-traumatic stress from the experience when I get alerts on my phone. Mostly, though, I feel grateful to be alive.

Finally, 2018 will be bringing us a new home! We are selling our house after only about four years in it. But, as my husband hears from me on a regular basis, it was four years too long! I wonder if other women identify with needing a house that is really a home. One that does everything you need it to in order to make life run smoother and more efficient. I do, for sure. Our house (what I lovingly call the “Patchwork House” due to its varying decades of style when we purchased it), is a great starter house. It’s got everything you need in a first house, including a lot of updates and a lovely fenced yard. The first three months of updates was exciting, but once Maxine joined the family, the time and cash to continue the updates were in competition with diapers and travel, otherwise known as time and money. We are putting our house on the market sometime in March with the hope of purchasing a new (to us) house by June. I realize the hard work that lies ahead – packing, cleaning, completing repairs, etc., but really I am so excited to have closet space and an open floor plan, I can hardly stand it.

Let the fun commence.

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Life Lately: January 2018

Wow, friends! Has it really been over six months since my last post? #Momlife and work life have me wading a bit in the deep end of the pool. I decided in early June to go back to work and (thankfully!) immediately found a position with my previous employer. The working conditions could not be better for me or my family, and I’m already familiar with the responsibilities of the position, so it has generally been an easy transition. Though the thought of leaving the baby at home was challenging – she was only three months old, being out of the house daily has made me a better mom to both girls. But I applaud so hard the moms who are better moms when they stay home with their children; they have a true gift and talent that I definitely do not have. In staying home with my older daughter, Max, who turned three in November, I realized that I wasn’t being the best mom I could be, nor was I being the best version of myself while I was at home. I think that is the great thing about motherhood as a state of being; it is diverse. We come from all walks of life, all parenting styles, all types of love languages, all varying ways of managing the household and kids, and all levels of simply being and getting through each exhausting day.

Parenting my older daughter is not what I expected it to be. I had always imagined having a daughter, and while, yes, she would be challenging, she wouldn’t be anywhere near the energy level of a boy. We would play dolls and learning games. She would sit next to me while I read her picture books about rabbits and frogs and fairies. She would excitedly let me brush and style her hair. She would be sweet and polite and happy to go to bed at the end of the day. Are you laughing yet!? Max is anything but a stereotypical girl. She has as much or more energy than the boys in her preschool class. She excels in art – painting, is her favorite form, but getting her to sit long enough to complete a full picture is impossible. She prefers grazing on snacks while running around the house to sitting at the table for a meal. One minute, she’s a doctor; the next, an architect building a boat or constructing a train. Following that, she’s racing cars down the living room floor. And this isn’t new; she’s been active since she was an infant–always needing to be engaged with someone and something (bless her heart).

I watch her sister now and they couldn’t be more different. And while, yes, I realize all children in one family can be vastly different from one another, it never ceases to amaze me how different Lo is from Max. She will sit and play with blocks or finger puppets or an activity cube for a half hour, alone. She will cuddle with us and loves to be kissed on. She giggles and laughs at everything her sister does and attempts to practice fine motor skills with us if we engage her. She is trying to crawl and loves to stand with one of us holding her up. She’s just a plump, happy baby.

A lot of parents have told me that if they had their more challenging kid first, they wouldn’t have had another one. And while I do consider Max to be more active and consistently engaged (a positive way to say more challenging), having her sister, Flora, was a redemption in many ways. Flora’s mellow, laid-back personality is a compliment to Max’s rambunctious, independent personality.  What would parenting be without some excitement?

“The soul is healed by being with children.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

 

 

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Life Lately

We are five days out from the new baby’s birth. Everyone is packed and ready for their destinations – Maxine to my sister’s house; Nathan and I to the hospital for a few days. A nursery is set up in our master suite bedroom. We have prepared Maxine as much as I think we can prepare her, but she shows quite a bit of ambivalence towards “new baby sister” and her arrival. That confuses me quite a bit, but I’m rolling with it for right now. We need to finish up a little bit of grocery shopping in the next week, but otherwise, I don’t feel like we could be more prepared to bring home a new baby.

In what feels like the worst timing ever, Maxine has started to not nap every day; that turns into her being overly tired by her 8 PM bedtime, which then often turns into her not falling asleep until 10 PM. It is extremely frustrating, so we have decided to take away the small amount of sugar she does get as well as all TV and screen time (also generally limited). It’s caused both Nathan and I a good deal of stress, though he handles it much better than I do.

We were able to get out on a date night last Friday to take a class on how to make a living wall frame filled with succulents. The class itself was informative and fun, and we made a beautiful display that will hang on our dining room wall. But, it was pretty expensive at $106 for 10 small succulent plants and plugs in a 5×5 (or so) reclaimed-wood planter frame. We have been wanting to propagate and grow from seed our succulents and bonsai plants, so this was a great activity for us to do together, especially as a “last date night” we will have in a while.

Take a look…

Living Wall Frame Project

When we had Maxine, we had moved into our house only a few months earlier. We had a room for her, but we weren’t really settled into the house. I didn’t like the flowery, pink and white themes that baby girl nurseries often or stereotypically get. I had a few items leftover from my foster parenting days, and, in general, I wasn’t very choosey or intentional about decor, despite being over the moon about having a girl. I was working full-time, and I was exhausted, more so than even with this pregnancy. So putting too much work into baby deco wasn’t high on my list.

This time around, however, we know that this is the last baby – and a girl, and so I did not want to let any option or convenience pass me by if I could get away with it. Interestingly, we chose to NOT have a separate nursery for baby #2. Instead, we set up space for her in our master suite bedroom and plan to move her into Maxine’s (large) bedroom when she’s six months old and sleeping through the night (whichever comes last). We’re doing that for a couple of reasons. One, we want to save our guest room for guests – and storage. Two, we want the girls to be close friends, to share and learn together, and enjoy their childhood. And maybe when they’re a little older, we can put them into separate spaces.

I love our master bedroom for its abundance of natural light, massive space, and coziness. It’s the only room upstairs (aside from the bath), and it makes for the warmest place to care for a family and a newborn in those first few days and weeks.

Mondays always seem to arrive super quickly when you’re heading into the weekend (amIright?!), and I hope that this Monday is no exception. We are eager and excited to meet this final family member!

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