Saturday, October 31, 2015

Freak Out Post #3

So Ian leaves in FOUR days.  I can hardly believe it.  These last three weeks have flown by.  I feel like we're in the calm before the storm right now, rather the calm between the storms.  The house is mostly packed and clean, most big things have been taken care of (school for kids, activities, calls to doctors, banks, post office etc.)  I find I have some downtime which feels so odd and I worry that I'm missing something, then I turn on another episode of Scandal and pick up my knitting and just go with it.  I'm good at finding downtime.  It's ok.

I keep finding new things to panic over.  Today it's Ian leaving and the realization that I get to get this house in order and us all packed to go to MN for 3+ weeks without most of our stuff ON MY OWN.  It's like all these years of traveling and packing alone with the kids for long weekends and trips has trained me for this.  Will I forget to empty a garbage can?  Or leave a light on that shouldn't be?  Or forget some long forgotten toy of the kids that suddenly becomes their favorite halfway into Wisconsin and we all suffer for weeks and weeks until it's recovered?  Only time will tell.

Mostly I'm excited.  I keep thinking about life just over a month from now.  Putting our things in our new house, making it our home.  Setting up our Christmas tree and making a roaring fire in the fireplace.  Holiday baking in our new kitchen with that island.  I dream about that island you guys.  I pinch myself all day long.  How is this actually happening?

A bit of normal in between all the madness...
New sweaters for Felix and I!

Always trying on his costume, them promptly disrobing 5 minutes later.
 Felix's last day at Pilgrim! (It was so odd to drive away that last time.  It's been 4 years!)
 Treats with friends, making last memories.
 Last day of ice skating, FINALLY giving into the two years of begging for vending machine snacks.
 Halloween at the girls school.

 Waiting for the parade to start.
 My little bunny.
 And Kiki! (The friendly witch from Kiki's Delivery Service)

 Felix took off his costume them momentarily wore Louise's bunny bonnet.  He got very positive reactions for his cuteness.

Lots of fun of late!

Fast Forward two days...

Today I'm sad.  It's Ian's last day of work.  He walked in from dropping the girls off at school and casually proclaimed "I'm a little sad.  I'm really going to miss walking them to school."  Cue off and on waterworks for me for about two hours.  Life is changing.  Change is hard.

Though I am mostly very excited and positive and sure this is the right thing for us, I am still worried.  It's been us 5 for so long.  We have no help with the kids, we have no date nights for the two of us.  We get through and the bi-product of that is that we're really really close.  Ian's new commute means he'll be leaving right when the kids wake up (it also means he'll be home for dinner though!).  He won't be a phone call away anymore.  But!  My mom will! and my sister who also stays at home will! and I know we'll get used to our new groove.  It's just hard to imagine that life right now.

It DOES help that the girls are starting school right away, and Felix the week after that.  I am so thankful for routines and jumping in and support along the way.  Just please pray I can hold it together for all my people.  My man who's starting a new career journey and my children who are facing so much change.  I know they need me and I want to be exactly what they need right now.  It's overwhelming and incredibly empowering.  I can do this!

So today I'm letting myself be weepy.  I'm thankful for one day without house showings in between lots of showings and an open house on either end.  One night to make food in my kitchen and lounge in my house and feel normal one last time before the madness of Halloween tomorrow and our man leaving on Sunday.  It's stilly because we've been apart much longer than 6 days before, but this feels like more somehow.  I want to be there with him to hear about his first days and give him a big hug and kiss when he gets home and make him lunches to take in the mornings.  Soon enough right?  We're big adults now.  We do what we have to.  I'm thankful the girls get one more week at their school and for wonderful friends and neighbors (and a brother in law!) who are occupying every single one of our evenings with dinners and invitations over and pizza picnics.  We're going out with a bang.

Fun Weekend in the Midst of Total Chaos

I guess I'm just going to start a backlog of posts here that I'll have to wait and post until after we make our move official.  Too much writing and thinking through to do to stop!
SO.  After a solid week of job accepting, house hunting, house getting, inspection finding, back and forth, packing, cleaning, sprucing etc etc etc I guess it all caught up to me.  I am on day 4 of some fever/chills/cough, headache, ouch all over my body in general, bug.  It's the worst possible timing.

I am so thankful for my mom coming in for a day last week to knock out some major cleaning and Dan here this weekend to help with the backyard and windows.  I was able to do a lot of decluttering and packing up before the bug hit, but still there is much to do, of course.  It's so very hard to just sit here and not be able to do much productive at all.  I have filled out the girls' new registration for school and can make some phone calls, LOTS of lists to make.  Goodness it's overwhelming.  Then I keep reminding myself that people do this all the time, that somehow it is going to work out.  That in three short weeks we will be at my parents and the girls will be starting at their new school and the next week Felix at his school. We can make it.  We must!

All this sick down time has given me too much time to think.  I am really mourning a lot of things.  I am sad to see this chapter of our life closing, but ready too.  I am sad to feel like we're missing out on fall, my FAVORITE season.  We didn't make it to an orchard this year, nor a pumpkin  patch, or the corn maze while we were in MN house hunting.  THOUGH! yesterday I'd had enough and while the chills shot up my legs and back and my head throbbed and went outside to scoop up some beautiful freshly fallen leaves and made the girls each a leaf rose, then made apple crisp for dinner.  I'm stubborn about celebrating fall.

I know there will be lots to do when we get to MN to celebrate too.  I am so excited for Thanksgiving and the EASE of just being there.  Though then there's that whole moving our furniture thing.  Oh it will get done right?  Right?!!!

Fast forward a few days, turns out I did have the flu.  I went to the doctor and got amazing cough syrup, a new inhaler, an antibiotic, and a shot of decongestant and within 12 hours I was a new woman.  Thank goodness for modern medicine, and husbands that make you go to the doctor.
The house should be on the market by this weekend.  It is so nervewracking to me, exciting too.  I am ready and the house is ready and I just pray it sells quickly and without ado.  Regardless I leave with the kids in just over two weeks.  It will feel odd to have our things here and us there, but I'm excited to be there and hope I can just relax a bit with all the littler details.  Though I keep thinking of things that I wish I hadn't packed like a knitting book for a new sweater for Felix, and the girls framed school photos (we got their new ones and they are just to precious!).  We'll find them all on the other side right?

This weekend we are planning to be out of the house as much as possible.  It makes showings a non issue and keeps me from thinking too much about the house selling.  Next week is going to be full with last play dates with friends.  So many lasts and finals going on these days.  It's hard and emotional.

We had a wonderful time out this weekend.  We spent Saturday down south visiting Ian's Uncle and Aunt and cousins in beautiful farmland.  We left early and got there in time to visit a pumpkin patch before our 1 o'clock date. Ian took more photos than I did, but we had a great time.
Sunday we went to the city first.  I still hadn't been to Maggie Daley Park so we went and it was pretty amazing.  Then we went up to a north shore mall to try and find Ian some new work pants.  FAIL at that but success at returning an online purchase for me and having a nice lunch out as a family.  Then we visited my grandma who's recovering from an infection in a care center.  We ran into my Aunt and Uncle there which felt wonderfully serendipitous.  It was nice to have such a full easy weekend in the midst of all this chaos.

Now the house in on the market and life has normalized in some strange way.  I can't believe how fast these three weeks are going.  One day at a time, one breath at a time some times.  It will happen!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Is This Real Life?

Sorry for my absence.  Things have been....busy.

On Thursday October 8th Felix wasn't feeling great.  He had some small stomach bug so I kept him home from a meeting/playdate and we lounged the morning away.  Around 10:30 he got some pep back so I walked him up to our park.  I love going with just him.  I follow him around pushing him on the big kid swing, watching him run and climb and slide.  It's the best.

I was doing just this when I got a call from Ian.

"I got the job!  We're moving to Minnesota!  PACK YOUR BAGS!!!"

do you need a moment for this to sink in? because I still do.

The next minutes, days really were all a blur.  After so many months, years really, of uncertainty and hoping and waiting and wishing, my man got his job!!! The shock has still not entirely worn off, will it ever I'm wondering?

The next day we drove to Minnesota.  We spent most of Saturday afternoon looking at houses in my hometown of Minnetonka.  Sunday we planned to look in Edina.

On Saturday we walked through our dream home.

I will never forget pulling up to that big blue barn (as we now affectionately call our 1965 dream house) turning right and seeing that kitchen, then pivoting and seeing that fireplace/brick wall/built in bookshelf masterpiece.  Then the powder room with the dutch tiles and the four massive bedrooms upstairs and the MASTER BATHROOM and the beautifully finished walk out family basement with a BAR with HEATED TILE FLOORS and the office room with wall to wall desks with just enough spaces for each and every one of us to do our own special things.  Then the unassuming downstairs bathroom that I walked in and out of in moments because YAY a downstairs bathroom but lets look at that kitchen again then,
I went back to the tiny bathroom to see Ian standing in a SAUNA.
What I had thought was a closet door was actually a door to a fully functioning sauna room.  My heart soared because I knew how much this meant to Ian.  It is his lifelong house dream to have a steam room/shower/sauna and mine to have land to plant on and a wood burning fireplace.
Dream house you guys.

So we put in our offer that night, and good thing.  The wait through the night was agonizing to see if they'd chosen us or the the other people who had made a bid or if they forwent them all together.  We still didn't know by 10 the next morning so we forged ahead into Edina.  We saw adorable neighborhoods and really cute houses.  In the second house in the 3 season porch our realtor got a call.  Nodding and smiling while coyly leaning on the doorframe she mouthed "you got the house."

It still doesn't feel real.

We've loved our home here so much and had Ian found something in Chicago we most likely would have stayed forever and made it work.  We love our neighborhood (our neighbors!) so much that I can't imagine another home in Chicago than this.  BUT, we bought this house as a family of three, not thinking long term at all.  This new dream house?  It's our forever home.

It will work for us right now while I'm home with Felix most days, family togetherness all afternoon and evening.  It will work for us when our kids grow and may just want their own rooms.  It will work for us when we need a bit of space from each other after long days or long winters.  It will work for us for slumber parties and holiday parties and it will work for us when Ian and I are all gray haired and worn out sitting by our fire, tending our garden, taking our saunas.
I just can't imagine a better place for us.

The house was such a big deal because it determines everything about our lives in Minnesota.  Where we'll raise our children, what our day to day will look like.  The girls (and eventually Felix) will go to the same elementary school that I went to.  They'll be able to walk to middle school.  We live closer to the bike trail than I did growing up (I am SO excited for the bike trail!!!).  My amazing city boy is giving up a bit to be out where I grew up, but I think the sauna makes up for it (for real it totally does), and we're both so so happy.

So now we're packing and putting our house on the market, and planning our lives in Minnesota.  It feels so amazing and surreal and more sad than I thought it would.  I've been weepy off and on.  We're leaving the only home we've known as a family. Anisley poignantly told us "but Minnesota is your home, it's never been our home."  The kids are excited, but sad too, just like us.  I hate that they can't be in their ballet nutcracker and that Ainsley won't get to have her birthday party with all of her friends here.  But I know we'll make a wonderful life for us there, and just breathing that air and being on that ground, toes sunk into a place that feeds my soul.  I can't even imagine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Louise Adele 5 Year Old

My Sweet Louise,
  You are five!  You are on your fourth week of kindergarten and growing so much every single day.  I can often be found snuggling you deep into my side and rubbing your soft cheeks with mine.  You continue to be most sweet gentle little lady I can imagine.
  There are so many things I love about you right now.  You are so excited for your independence and growth at school.  I was so unsure about sending you to kindergarten, mainly I realized, because I didn't want to give up all those hours with my precious girl.  But you are beyond ready and show us every day when you get dressed, do your own hair, brush your teeth, get all the things you need for your day and march out proudly with hardly a look back.  I am greeted each day with a beaming smile as you run out the kindergarten door and high five your teacher.   Right now you seem to be loving everything about school.  I am so thankful and proud.
  Outside of school your life is fun and busy.  You love dance class and watching you dance ballet and tap every week is one of the highlights for me.  You are so eager and excited and such a good listener in class.  You'd tap all day if I let you!
  When we aren't running around to activities for you or your sister you love being home and playing. You are still very into art and projects.  Just yesterday we started a felt purse project and which you are hand sewing all on your own. You can't wait to learn to knit and are up for just about any project I can think of.
  You love riding your bike and scooting around our neighborhood, playing with neighbors and your siblings in the backyard.  I love how simple and fun life is right now.  You make my job feel easy!

I love you so much wonderful girl.  These words are not nearly enough.  Happy 5 years to you!
I'm sitting here with Mr. Boo who's a bit under the weather.  He wants nothing more than to snuggle and sip on water and nibble on oatmeal squares.

It's been a really nice week.  My sister and family were in town this weekend and we had SO much fun.  The girls were so sad when baby Rory left.  We watch a video we took of them all giggling in the bath over and over.  It was a great time.

I have been really diving into my new knitting, which feels so good.  I knew I'd have to plow through the body of my new sweater or it would never get done.  The yarn I got for Felix's new cardigan is absolutely perfect.  It's all I can do not to cast on for that.

I didn't plan my meals well this week.  Mainly I neglected to look at the weather and plan for this three day heat up where soups and baked squash don't work quite so well.  So last night after piano we called in for pad thai.  It was ready by the time we arrived, we got home in tandem with Ian and were all fed and happy by 6pm.  That works almost too well.

Tonight I'm excited for potato leek soup, with leeks from the Farmer's Market.  I got an acorn squash there too this weekend and that all baked up with some butter and brown sugar and pecans sounds like the most amazing side dish.  I feel like I've found a better balance with meals these last few weeks, remembering to save the more elaborate meals for the weekends and planning quick simple dishes for the week.

After finally finishing the pre-packaged snacks I got from Costco to jumpstart the year we are onto the real deal.  I loaded up on dried fruit at TJs this week and we're off and running.  Their new favorite is a "trail mix".  Made with oatmeal squares cereal, yogurt raisins, banana chips and apricots.  My kids loves nuts for snacks and it's always an adjustment to the nut free snacks for school.  This is working well so far!  Oh, that and mini muffins.  This week it was pumpkin muffins from the mix at Trader joes.  They are so good and deliciously spiced.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ahh. Fall.

Today is the first real day of fall for me.  The heat has FINALLY broken.  It's cool, and blustery, and beautiful.
Ainsley was lamenting the end of summer over the weekend. That girl LOVES the heat.  The last day of the pool feels a bit like the loss of a close friend each year.  I feel that, but that first true fall day?  It's my absolute favorite.
Right now I have my carpenters pandora station on and I just mixed up some spiced play dough.  I thought I'd bring it to dance today so Felix and I can play while the girls dance away.  (They started their Nutcracker routine last week and are SO excited to be little mice!).  I'm trying to find ways to make all this waiting room time with my boy count a bit more.  As of late it's been filled with him carrying around a tiny dinosaur toy while I knit.  I think a better balance can be found.
Oh and that tiny guy.  He is LOVING school.  I have yet to hear one sad or anxious peep out of him.  I hope I always remember how he looks with that giant backpack on, arms folded in front so it won't fall off his shoulders, marching proudly to and from school with no interest at all in holding my hand.  I love that little boy so much.
Today is picture day for the girls at school.  We chose outfits last night but of course this morning there were disagreements about hair and accessories.  I'm finding myself slipping into some bad behaviors with them and trying very hard to word things correctly so they don't feel like I'm telling them they don't look good.  At the same time I know I am relatively lax about what I let them wear/how I let them leave the house so I don't think its too much to ask for a good brushing through!

I am still trying to find my new groove with fall.  Felix's long naps are throwing me a bit, silly I know.  I have to be in the house and be relatively quiet so he doesn't wake.  Always a new groove.


Well, now the week is almost done.  I'm remembering how fast the weeks go in school.  I am thankful for our smooth afternoons. It can be hard to get out the door again after coming home from school but we all love the activities.  I love being out in the world with my little people, watching them learn and have fun and grow.  I am thankful for school for them, but it makes those afternoons extra precious.

Right now I am so excited about fall knitting and cooking.  I just ordered some yarn for myself for a new sweater, one for Felix too.  Then I was perusing old patterns and decided on a whim to look up a gorgeous (expensive, yikes!) yarn that I used for one of my all time favorite little girl sweater and low and behold, a sale!  a 50% off sale!!! Well, I just had to get yarn, enough for my two ladies.  So now my fingers must fly to get it all done.  I think nap time will oblige that nicely.

And cooking!  Oh how I wait for crock pots and slow cooks, and soups and thick savory meals.  I'm in heaven.
This week I made Moosewood's lentil soup, and Moosewood's Ginger Carrot Soup.  I served the latter spooned over a wild rice blend and cashews and the former for lunch for me and dinner with Costco's Rosemary Parmesan Bread (that bread was still warm from the oven when I bought it, I love Costco).
Tomorrow I'm making an old Smitten Kitchen favorite, Sweet Potato Swiss Chard Gratin.  I splurged on some good Icelandic Salmon from Whole Foods and am going to try a maple mustard glaze with that.  It sounds like a winner so lets hope!  Ooh and for dessert, a simple bar recipe I read about in the latest book I devoured.  There's something magical about walking into a bookstore to browse, spying a book who's cover speaks to your soul, reading the jacket, having your breath leave you for a moment, buying it without a second thought and just sinking into a story that you feel was written just for you.  Magic.
I'm rounding out all this homemade goodness with a Costco lasagna at some point.  I'm rather excited for that as well.
I bought a two pack of pork tenderloin to make Ellie Krieger's version last week, but only used the one so next week I may have to do our old standby overnight marinade of soyaki for the other. Oooh!  And Shepherd's pie with leftover Pioneer Woman inspired mashed potatoes (meaning I put cream cheese and little butter and lots of good milk in them).
Next week will have to be leftovers and freezer purging, and maybe some kind of stew and biscuits.  And I haven't done nearly enough with apples and pumpkins.  It's time.
Oooh I love fall cooking.

Really, I love fall.  We're feeling settled in school and activities.  The girls are SO excited for Halloween and the first year that they are inventing their own costumes (I was presented with images they both drew, I hope I can do them justice).  I am just so excited to be here in this moment with my family who I couldn't adore more if I tried.
Happy fall to you all! and to all a good fall!