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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sprung

It seemed like it would never happen, but winter has officially packed up and is making way for the warmth and sunshine that we've all been craving...

I have to say that I will miss the smell of the wood stove burning and the sight of fresh snowfall on the landscape around me. But not nearly as much as I will welcome early sunlight and colorful blooms and a change of attire.

I love spring because it's all about rebirth. Awakening. Shaking off a few layers and opening up to new possibilities.

This past week was nothing short of a roller coaster ride. Ev and I both started our news jobs at the same time. It's time to make the donuts. We stocked our kitchen with too many dollar signs worth of groceries and I visited numerous second-hand stores for more baby stuff because Sienna would be splitting her time between her GG, her great Aunty Mia and her great Aunty Tanya. These women are amazing and Ev and I couldn't do what we are doing without them.

This is the first time in a long time that I can look forward to weekends again, and it's already chock full of errands to run and people to visit. But I am seriously excited. We are already doing many of the things that we have been talking about for what feels like forever. Taking walks, spending quality time with family and friends, and saving that hard earned dough for all the bigger, better things that are on the horizon.

With all of this newness comes a real honest need for patience and perspective. I am notorious for taking on too much. I get restless when things slow down and overwhelmed when things speed up. I continue to struggle to maintain a balance.

Speaking of balance...
That, my friends, is a look of determination. Within a week-and-a-half, Miss Sienna went from crawling to speed crawling to pulling herself up on her feet. The girl just passed the 8-month mark and I am still constantly in awe of her.

But that's the best feeling. It's not that I don't want her to grow up. I hear so many moms comment about how it makes them sad to pack up their kid's old clothes or when they observe a new developmental milestone it's bittersweet. And I can officially say that yes, it certainly can be. But it is also so very awesome and I am so happy that I get to be a part of this. It still feels like she was just born, like she was so little and precious just yesterday. And here she is, beautiful and healthy and on the move. Anytime I feel overwhelmed by life, I look at her and I'm back to center.

All I can say is we are lucky. Lucky. Lucky.

Monday, March 31, 2014

As Is

There's a loooooooooooottttt of pretty pictures out there of perfectly manicured, not even close to being lived in homes. 

My home is not one of them. And I'm still insisting on taking 99.9% of my pictures on my iPhone. Resulting in many grainy, poorly lit and out of focus photos. 

But I guess that's the way it is until I either A. upgrade my phone or B. get serious and use a real camera. My vote is for option A. 

Back to the Pinterest perfect homes. I'm not hating, I love looking at these pictures. I read countless home improvement blogs and droll over vintage reupholstered chairs and wall organizers crafted out of scrap wood. I think that I can do all of these things and someday my home, too, will look just as unique and awesome.

Sometimes I get frustrated that it seems too out of reach. Then I realize the kinds of tricks that cameras and Photoshop can play. That those insanely tidy shots of a cozy reading nook or a kitchen just waiting to be cooked in are very small fragments of a whole picture that likely includes baby toys and clutter and messy floors.

So without tidying, I decided to snap a few shots of our room. As is. This is our very humble abode, much of it was already here. I finally got around to adding in some of our own stuff while repurposing many things that I've found around this 60-year-old house...

 Our sleeping nook, dressed up with a colorful Nate Berkus comforter and striped pillow. 
Making the bed is overrated.
   Old wooden box turned bracelet storage. 
Lovely old dresser.
The desk is bulky and in need of a fresh face. But for now, it works...

And that's what I keep reminding myself. For now, it works. Things are just fine. In fact, they're better than fine. Life is great, as is.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The loo


This little half bath is a tough one. It's the only bathroom on the main floor of the house, and thanks to the addition my grandfather did on the kitchen decades ago, it no longer has an outside window. Just an inside one. Yep, window stayed and it gives you a nice view into the laundry room.

Once we started the kitchen floor, which had the same old tile, we knew the bathroom had to be done. It was small enough, so might as well.

There was two layers to get through to the plaster wall. I was lucky. This stuff peeled like nothing and warm water and a scraper was all it took to get down that second layer of paper.


 Evan wiped the walls down while Gramps and I hit up Home Depot for some paint. We would finish the tile before we actually got to painting. See that lovely linoleum underneath? Oh linoleum. I was not sad to see you covered up.


Gramps went full steam ahead and cut in all around the ceiling. He didn't want to bother with taping things off but I'm picky, so I did it. I finished the cutting in around the trim, which didn't need to be perfect because we were painting it anyway. The color we chose for the wall is Geyser by Behr, and the trim is Ultra White.

And then wouldn't ya know, the little loo was brought back to life with some snazzy new floor tile, fresh paint, and a simple curtain I made out of some heavily discounted fabric from JoAnn's and no sew hem tape.

All in all, I'd say this place is shaping up little by little. And I'm happy with how much I've learned in such a short amount of time. Next phase is to tackle Sienna's room. Looks like I'm gonna have to brush off the ol' Pinterest account and get some inspiration.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My idea of a good time

I need to write.

That’s what I’ve been saying to myself these past few weeks. But I’ve been too busy.

In between all the transitions that take place when moving back home, plus the endless job search... I've been lucky. Gramps and I are currently entrenched in some really enjoyable and productive projects. I’ve finally gotten the chance to do some of the things that I’ve been wanting to do for the past 18 months, but just wasn’t in the right place.

I’ve been making some old bathrooms look slightly better.

And ripping up and laying down floor tile.

This may sound strange to some people, but I’m a true DIYer at heart and have never really had the chance to enact some of my DIY fantasies out on the places I’ve occupied. Mostly because these places have always been rented and landlords didn’t feel like letting me get artistic on their walls.

Now I’m in my grandfather’s house, the craftsman. I’ve talked about this house before because it is very special to me. This place is a canvas just w a i t i n g to be painted on.

Gramps is the ultimate DIYer. He masters skills (and still renews his Journeyman plumbing license despite being retired for decades because he’s so damn proud of his accomplishments). He fixes what needs fixin’ and doesn’t really bother to keep up with the latest and greatest. He’s as practical as practical can be. He is basically what I strive to be.

He’s also stubborn and impatient and I know where I get it from. He has also fallen under the charm of Sienna and loves being a great grandfather. He says it's a trip.
The business face.
Onto the projects…

Gramps has already refinished the dining room’s hardwood floors and put down a brand new area rug. Despite the dining room still being 100% underused as an actual dining room, it has become a good place for the storage of many tools and supplies through the duration of our floor project.

And that’s where it started. The floor in the kitchen has been in bad shape for a long time. It lasted for many years, there's no denying that. But it was discolored, cracked in multiple places, and it was obvious that the subfloor had retained some water damage from where the ceiling leaked... a problem that Gramps said he's has on and off ever since adding on to the kitchen 30 years ago.

So we ripped that sucker up and it became a little bit more of a project than I bargained for. But it was also to be expected and I jumped at the chance to learn all I could about the ins and outs of flooring, including repair.

After removing and replacing the water damaged portions of the plywood subfloor, we set out in search of new tile. Nothing Fancy (see what I did there?). Just some higher quality peel-and-stick vinyl would do the trick. Gramps really wasn't interested in getting into this project in the first place, but I sort of pushed him into it so although I had a much more glamorous picture of a sweet ceramic bricklayer pattern in my head, I went along with the simple stuff.

Let's be honest. Day after day of being on your hands and knees is no joke, especially on your back. I actually struggled at first to keep up with my 84-year-old grandfather who had to sit in a chair most of the time because getting down on the floor wasn't an option. He needed my young knees and I needed his brain.
Yes, those are polar bears on my pants.

The lines sometimes veered off course and the cuts weren't perfect... sometimes they were so far off it was laughable. But we made a good team and in the end we ended up with a way better result than I think we realized we could get with him being much slower than he use to be and me being a complete novice.

We started ripping up old tile on March 1 and laid the final tile yesterday, March 15. Two weeks, about $300 and a million hours of labor later and we have a shiny new floor in not only the kitchen but the bathroom, which had some peeling wallpaper. I couldn't just stop with the floor, so you can imagine what I did next...

To be continued!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Muscle Memory


Muscle memory happens when a movement is repeated over time, creating a long-term memory for that task. Eventually, this movement can be performed without conscious effort. Even if you’ve been away from this particular movement or task for some time, picking it up again can end up feeling like you just left off. The time that occurred—the hiatus, so to speak—is irrelevant.

Relationships are like that. Familiar places are too. I don’t just associate this muscle memory with exercise. Although I did have a great moment yesterday about 30 minutes into a 90-minute hot yoga class where the familiar environment and movements had me feeling more confident about what I was doing there. I had been here before, I could do this. And I did.

Coming home has been another reminder that I’ve been here before, I know it better. And I know myself better. I have all that I need in order to make this life here a good one.

So I’m happy to say that while I was complaining about how difficult it was to start my workout program just a couple weeks ago, I had no idea that in a matter of days we would find ourselves in the place that we had been working towards for many, many months.

Home. Nearly 700 miles Eastbound. We knew we would come back here eventually, we even went so far as to set a time frame. But then life happened and we decided the time is now.

I also believe we were lead back here to protect ourselves. The strength of our bond and the family we created was being tested. To return to our happiness sooner than later was of the utmost important because it wasn’t good for anyone to put it off any longer. Delaying the inevitable was just making things more difficult than they needed to be. So we ripped off the proverbial Band-Aid.

I told a good friend that I felt like I could breathe again. Like I had been holding my breath for the past 18 months and I could finally let it all out. This burden that I didn’t even realize I was carrying for so long was lifted. Of course, the burden was the one that I put on myself. I was forcing myself to try to make a life in a place that I just couldn’t get comfortable in for one reason or another. And I had tried. We all tried. I’m still proud of how far we came in such a short amount of time.

I should add that making this move was not 100% me. It was 33%. I am one-third of a unit that sticks together and makes decisions together to better our lives, and hopefully the lives of those around us. Upon our return, we realized everything that had been there all along. We were exactly where we belonged.

And I’m reminded, as always, that things happen for a reason. Doors close and others open and it’s up to us to walk through them. And when things seem chaotic and out of control, you can be sure that clarity will come.


This is my clarity: I am home. I have a loving husband and a healthy baby girl. I have an incredibly rewarding relationship with myself as well as with my closest family and friends. I have a connection to this place. I have opportunities all around me. Life is seriously good. I am grateful and excited for every little thing.