Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Um Ya Ya!

We took the kids to St Olaf for the first time this weekend.  We'd been only twice since graduating and it occurred to me suddenly that we can do that now because WE LIVE SO CLOSE!  We're still getting into our new groove here, especially on weekends and I'm finding we need our new "go to's" with the kids. St Olaf may just be it.

We left around 10. After a bike ride for the kids and Ian and a run for me.  We made it just in time for an early lunch.  Ainsley brought her backpack loaded with things, her clipboard and pencil being the most important.  I'm realizing our girl has such a unique relationship with learning and I loved seeing her so motivated.  She wrote down every word she saw spelled out, even stopping outside of the math and science building to copy some linear algebra that was on the concrete steps.  A big "?" placed after the equation.  Her notes and graphs from that day are magical.

For me the magic was the place and the memories.  I've heard lots of peoples college stories by now and mine falls in the category of "best time of my life". Most definitely.

There are so many things about St Olaf that are so specific to that place.  How the students live on campus all four years, eat every single meal together in one place, leave their packpacks, laptops, mailboxes unlocked and unattended, spend free time at pubs sipping beer by the river, taking a bus to see movies on the big screen at the big town up the highway.  It truly was a magical time and it was so fun to relive that with Ian and our children.

They loves the cafeteria and getting to choose whatever they wanted.  They LOVED the ice cream and walking around campus.  Their priority was finding the pit in the library where Daddy used to nap in between study sessions and class.  They are shocked by how quiet it was there. Louise couldn't quite wrap her mind around why anyone would leave their home. Ainsley was ALL over it.  She'll make a good Ole someday if she'd like.

I really didn't want to leave.  I wanted to stand in the commons and magically be transported back to junior year, for just a few days.  Living with awesome friends, thick in secure love with Ian, rocking out essays and paintings and shots of espresso and 5 milers.  Then I stopped and realized that I've more of those magical life phases since then.  Being newly married, being a new parent, now this new home and raising children and finding my place in the adult parent world. There's a time for it all.

On our drive home as the kids crashed Ian and I talked about what we'd change if we could.  His were all class related, mine, not so much. I do wish I'd delved more into the opportunities there. Though really I felt my time there was used well.  I'll be very excited for the 10 year reunion. We can finally go!

I'm excited to go back, adventure more into town next time.  Northfield and St Olaf will always hold a very special place in my heart.

More Room

I'm getting my times down, FINALLY!  It takes 7 minutes to get to Felix's preschool, 9 if I hit all the lights.  So I have at least 12 minutes more in my alone time morning.  Bam.

I woke up early this morning.  Even before Ian.  Felix wandered in at 5:10 and snuggled for about 1 minute until he begged to go downstairs.  Us three all descended and it was so nice.  Felix was in a rambunctious happy mood and wanted to be carried and snuggled lots.  I can't believe my baby boy is going to be three next month.

This morning is gorgeous.  It's warm and breezy.  I got my errands done quickly and went for a run.  I'm finding my loops around the neighborhood and find it's bringing me so much comfort to be running back where my running all started.  I had my high school captains practices for cross country right across the road at the middle school.  Nearly every run I took ended up on the trail at least for a bit.  I'd forgotten how peaceful it is to run on.  Ah.

This week I'm feeling that spring bug.  After months of setting up house and getting the kids and myself all squared away I'm excited to get our new household budget in order.  They say moving is expensive and it's not just the boxes and moving trucks and down payments and bigger house payments, but all that setting up and readjusting.  Our space feels moderately settled and I know the things we have left that we need (or rather that I'd like) can fit into a monthly budget like they used to.

My main problem, again is food.  I am not in a routine yet with groceries and that's hard.  I get bread at one specific place, coffee at another.  I still love trader Joe's best but it's a bit further so I only make it twice a month or so meaning I binge stock up every time I go.  I waffle between loving a very full freezer and pantry and wanting the freedom to get take out or make what sounds good on a more spur of the moment basis.

This week we are living off of one of those TJ's splurge runs.  Tonight it's marinated chicken on the grill (how could we not grill in this weather?!) sweet potatoes and salad.  I have a whole list of possible meals taped to the inside of the pantry and am looking forward to just choosing each day what works.  Right now that's working.

The one thing that really works for me in regards to budgeting food and other household needs is just writing it all down.  I add up the grocery and household amounts each week and total them at the end of the month.  By that last week of the month I know exactly how much I can spend (or not spend!) to stay on track.  There is such a comfort in that. So as much as it STINKS to spend $50 at Target on toilet paper and printer ink, I can because it's written down and accounted for.

With that things are starting to feel a bit more in control.  I'm able to wrap my mind around summer, a bit.  Past years have been so up in the air that having the certainty of where we are is so wonderful.  June is shaping up to be full and fun, I'm hoping July is mostly up at the cabin and August should be lazy and long just the way we need it to be.  I find I'm excited to enter this new season with my family, nervous too.  The uncertainty of the first years of our lives together was a sort of crutch. This really feels like go time, like it all counts so much more. Truthfully it's always counted and I know that, but, does that make sense?
Looking forward to an entirely new groove in this new place, one with less angst and uncertainty and more room both literally and figuratively!

Happy Spring!

Tonkadale Fairy Gardens

Day off from school Snuffy's lunch with mom

Rory and Felix, the best of pals

Too bad I caught her blinking, but my goodness!  My girl has been struggling with spelling, but I'm told it's because she tries to spell words like these...love her zeal so much.

trail running again, perhaps the thing I missed most about our near city living these past 8 years

Home Sweet Home

A nest!

A boy and his bike

It occurred to me the other day that our side yard is most definitely bigger than our whole plot in Oak Park.  So excited for those berries this summer!

Felix called me upstairs one night to show me he'd finally learned how to thumbs up properly.  So cute.

Dad's shop

New hair cut!

Organizing a new shelf and feeling very much like a parent...

My sweet Emmiline! I LOVE getting to babysit my nieces and nephews.

Their first trip to the Hill (St Olaf) wore them out!

Anyone else remember these books?  I was so excited to find one at the thrift store. $0.39!

An omen for our Florida trip fast approaching. Delicious honey tangerines!

Yet again I have a magnificent backlog of posts.  New food plans, a weekend trip to St Olaf with the kids, life in general.  When will I get my act together?!

I think I really need photos.  They motivate me.

Life could not be better. Ian and I both feel like the other shoe is about to drop any moment.  We are finally closed and done with our Oak Park house and that has lifted such a tremendous burden off of our shoulders.  I feel like for the first time in a few years I can really breathe easy. I almost don't know what to do with myself!

Right now the kids continue to be such a blessing.  They are growing and learning every moment and that keeps life so full and good.

Ainsley is loving dance.  She and Louise are in the same class and they are doing a ballet number to a Taylor Swift song for their recital and she could not be more enthused. We found a new piano teacher right in the neighborhood who is fantastic and she's loving learning how to play and having more opportunities to perform than ever! She's had such a hard time transitioning to our new life here and I'm thankful that it feels like we are at least over the worst of it.  She LOVES her new room, her big kid desk, her space when she wants it.  She's growing up to be such a lovely lively creative young lady.

Louise has had a rough go of it off and on too. She is so weepy over seemingly small things and still struggles with getting on the bus in the mornings. It's been a great lesson in patience and understanding for me.  She is also loving dance and I'm so glad for that in the girls' lives right now.  She has no interest in summer activities, is perfectly content to stay home with Felix and I. I'm content with that too.  She is very excited for Tball this spring. I am her coach and I'm excited too.  Softball was such a big part of my childhood. I'm excited to share that with her.

Felix is flighing high. Our little boy is just that,a little boy!  He talks in full big sentences, explains things, finds his F for Felix every place he can.  He loves preschool.  It's been the perfect place for him these past months.  I am so happy for that for him.  He loves anything active outdoors, riding his bike, playing T ball, kicking a soccer ball, scooting.  He also loves to cook with me and read books. His new favorites are dinosaur books.

All three of the children love our new spot here, our big driveway is so perfect for biking and scooting while we get used to the sidewalk-less streets.  Just last night I took them all on a bike ride around the neighborhood.  Louise and Felix in the burley and Ainsley solo.  My big girl powered up all the hills and shouted in glee as she got to zoom down others "this is the best bike ride ever!"  Life here is all I imagined it could be.

We head to Florida so soon. It's very exciting. Just in time to escape a late March snowfall we all knew was coming.

Happy Spring to all!