Thursday, December 1, 2016

Life Lately: Fall-ing

Oh man, Fall, came and went in about a minute, right? Summer felt long, (and awesome!), and we milked the warm days as long as we could- playing outside well into October, so maybe that's why Fall got the squeeze. And I know it hasn't actually ended yet; we've still got a few weeks until the official equinox, but with advent starting this week, we're moving swiftly out of Fall and into Holiday. (which I'm not mad about!)

But with our days packed to the gills, I canNOT seem to get in a groove with blogging. I just can't seem to find the time/energy/brain power/creativity to sit down to process my thoughts, or record our goings-on. So even though I did a Life Lately update not too long ago,  I figured another list would be an easy way to get back in the game.

So with that...here's a super non-exhaustive list of what's been exhausting us lately:
Making: progress on cleaning the basement. That has been the black hole of our house, pretty much since the day we moved in, and despite several attempts at organizing, we still feel buried in stuff. But we've been trying to follow the principles of "Konmari" and there might finally be a light at the end of the crawlspace/tunnel. Last month, Dustin tackled the garage- and we can now actually park both of our cars in there! So we'll keep chipping away (and purging and donating) with the hopes of having an actual living space, rather than a dumping ground.
Cooking: semi-healthy. We're still trying to make Whole 30 compatible meals when we can. Our breakfasts are pretty "clean"- usually eggs, some smoothie, and maybe some meat or vegetables. And we've been trying to keep up with meal planning for dinners, so we don't resort to easy "kid meals" of pasta or chicken fingers. It's a little tougher now that we aren't grilling as much, but we're trying to at least plan a couple dinners a week so we can use leftovers on off nights and for lunches.
Drinking: so much La Croix (which I still want to say the French way...even though I know that's wrong). We got into it during Whole 30, and it just never left. (ok. I'm done talking about Whole 30 now. But I do think we're doing another round after the holidays...so...)
Reading: not much. I've got a few things piling up on my nightstand, but I've barely cracked open their covers. BUT- what I am getting into? Podcasts! I know, I know, all the hip kids have been onto this forever, but I'm finally catching on. Dustin and I carpool to work most days, but on the rare occasion I find myself on my own, It's been fun to listen to "shows" during the commute. I don't have any absolute favorites yet, but I've been listening to The Happy Hour, Young House Love, and I want to check out a new one from one of my friends: The Upside Down Podcast. If you have any recommendations, send them my way!
Wanting: to go back to daylight saving time. Yes, I'm thankful it's not pitch black when I wake up...but the sun setting at 5pm is kinda killing my evening motivation. It's too soon to miss Summer. And yet...
Playing: Fantasy Football. This is our ninth year, and after winning the league in the inaugural 2007 season, I'm finally back on top. I'm not trying to get too cocky too soon, but for now, it feels good.
Looking: a little crazy in mix-matched footwear...and an animal ear headband (Fin...I'm talking about you.) All Summer, Fin insisted on wearing two different colored flip flops. It started at VBS, and somehow it just stuck. Now that it's colder, she's moved on to wearing two different socks (and tells me with a giggle, "everyone at school loved my socks!") And when we bought her fox ears a few weeks before Halloween, she wore them out of the store and pretty much never took them off. So basically...she looks insane on a daily basis. She's quite particular in general about what she wears and shows her goofy sense of humor with her fashion choices. I don't even fight it anymore, choosing to embrace her passion/crazy streak. She comes by it honestly, at least, as my mom reminds me I insisted on picking out my own clothes from about 18 months on.
Wasting: food. Ugh. We always seem to be throwing away a million little scraps that kids licked/spit out/touched/dropped. I try to give them little tiny portions, and allow them to have seconds and thirds if they want, just to keep the waste to a minimum, but it's a losing battle. Dustin makes fun of me because I will literally save a half eaten donut hole, but it just hurts my heart to throw away so much perfectly good food just because kids are so finicky and messy. (I'm part of the problem too though, when I buy food with great intentions of cooking, and then accidentally let it spoil in the vegetable drawer).
Wishing: I could prioritize my friends more. There is so much about this stage of life with little ones that is awesome but it also requires a certain amount of hunkering down. It's not selfish to prioritize my family, but I get frustrated sometimes that I can't give and serve the way I want to. We only have so much margin, especially with working full-time, so I'm often left feeling tapped out, and like I'm coming up short with those I care about. I try to remind myself that this is just a season, and that there will be times in life when I have to take more, and times when I can give more. 
Enjoying: fairs! Things got a little wild at the end of the Summer, and we somehow found ourselves at a fair every weekend for the better part of a month...but I'm not even a little bit sorry. Me + Fried Cheese on a stick = happy happy happy.
Waiting: in airports. Alright...that one is a stretch, but this list wouldn't be accurate without somehow acknowledging the travel that Dustin and I have been doing lately. It's nothing crazy, but each of us has typically been taking around one trip a month. It's always super short trips- St. Louis or Chicago- in and out in one day, or at most an overnight. It's fun to get out and connect with clients, and I'm never mad at a night of uninterrupted sleep in a cushy hotel bed, but it's tough to coordinate schedules and it requires one of us to manage solo with all of the kids, which can of course be challenging.
Wondering: what I should do with my hair. I did the mom thing, and cut it off shortly after having Miler, but now I'm kinda longing to have it long. It's currently in a weird in between stage, and it's so tempting to just cut it off again to escape the awkwardness.
Liking: trying something new for Piper's birthday: skipping the party, in favor of a little family trip. We took just the girls to Great Wolf Lodge and it was THE BEST. They had the time of their lives, and it was really fun to get away with them, and just laugh and splash and eat and goof around together. I'm not saying I'm done throwing birthday parties, but I definitely want make time for more mini-getaways from time to time.
Loving: Piper's new school. We made the choice to send her to a different preschool this year, and she could not love it more. She adores her teachers, the crafts, the lessons, the other kids...everything. It's definitely been a bit hectic to deal with two different schools (locations, schedules, events etc.) for the kids, but it's totally and completely worth it. It's been absolutely perfect for her, and I couldn't be more thankful. Oh, and Fin asks pretty much every day when she can go there too...only 10 more months, kiddo.
Marveling: at how much the emergency room costs. Dustin was pretty sick a little while back (fear not...he's tip top now), and two trips to the urgent care/"close to home" hospital set us back somewhere in the 4 figures. (seriously. I could just die thinking about it. But then...funeral costs). The only upside is we have to have met our deductible at this point, so maybe we can squeeze in all kinds of fancy elective surgery before the end of the year? Yeah?
Pretending: the bathroom floor is lava (or "lah-ver", as Fin calls it). Every night after brushing her teeth she has to get the stools arranged just right so she can jump from one to the other and out the door without "burning" her feet. (Fear not: mommies and daddies and babies are immune to lah-ver). Like most imaginative games of 3 year olds, the process is equal parts adorable and frustrating, as I get antsy to just get on with it already.
Needing: patience. Heavens knows I get 8 million chances a day to practice but I still have a remarkably low tolerance for arguing/complaining/tattling/dawdling. Yes, my kids could use some more manners, but I'm doing my best to remember how little they are, and trying to maintain reasonable expectations for their behavior. I hate feeling like I'm always barking orders or forcing them to hurry up (not to mention that neither of those tactics actually changes anything...) Some of it is the necessary, as we can't just be late to school/work every day, but I'm looking for opportunities to slow down, and say extra "yes"'s when I can.
Smelling: coconut 3-in-1 body wash/shampoo/conditioner (the most recent beauty purchase they swindled daddy into). Bath day can be chaotic, but the girls get such a kick out of making us smell their hair afterward; they get so proud of how fresh and yummy they are.
Wearing: Halloween shirts allllll day evvvvvvveryday. I got the girls each a pumpkin shirt, and a pair of Halloween jammies, plus they each have a skeleton shirt (check them out from last year). I thought they'd get a kick out of it, but I didn't know that would pretty much be their entire wardrobe for a month. Fin was especially obsessed, so my laundry was an endless cycle of black and orange to keep her favorites in the rotation.

Noticing: that big-kid stuff is coming soon...and getting pretty excited about it. I mourn the outgrowing of babyhood so hard sometimes, but then I get a glimpse of the things coming next, and I remember that there is still so much good ahead of us. Piper's learning to play Yahtzee and Guess Who?, Fin is obsessed with a play makeup kit her aunt got them, we've entered the stage of Barbies...it's a little scary, and a lot fun.
Hoping: that the jillion dollars I just spent on a new Rodan + Fields regimen will be worth it. My "consultant" is a long-time friend, so I trust her...but am also a little skeptical. Stay tuned for some vulnerable before pictures.
Knowing: Dustin and I need to do a better job of prioritizing quality time with each other. Because we work at the same company, we actually do spend a quite a bit of time together (not so much at work but we do carpool, and go on the occasional lunch date!) but it can be so easy for most of our conversations to center around the logistics of our lives. What day are we doing this, who's going to take this kid to there, did we coordinate this, have you called about that...There are so many moving parts required to keep our family going, that organizing those details tends to take over. I'd like to work harder on being thoughtful about our time and conversations together...finding time away from the kids and away from the office to really connect and enjoy each other on a level outside of our household roles and responsibilities.
Thinking: a lot about the election results. I don't have a ton to say about it in this moment (translation: don't get me started...) but I can tell you that I'm more intrigued, involved, and invested in politics (and social issues, and human rights, and public leadership) than I ever have been before. In a lot of ways this is a scary time, but through it all I am still seeing so much hope.
Learning: to write. Piper is obsessed with writing, and is constantly asking us to spell things so she can write notes to her friends, make her Christmas list (yes, we got an early start on that), cards for teachers...When we read, she can point out different words based on what letter they start with, and is starting to sound things out. It's so fun to watch her little mind work. She's so passionate about learning, and happily toils over all of her projects, wanting to make them just right. Her most recent works are a "scrapbook" with fall leaves taped to every page, and a "book of manners" which has chapters about "please and thank you" as well as lists of foods, and colors etc. She's endlessly proud of them, and can't wait to show them off or gift them to people.
Bookmarking: all the available rental properties in Seaside, Florida. We fell in love with it last year, and are now planning a BIG get together for my whole extended family this Summer. Hunting for a house (or five) for 35 people nearly took over my life for a week, but I'm super pumped about getting to go back to such a special place to make a whole new round of memories.
Opening: our hearts to the possibility of opening our home. It's strange to bury something so huge in the end of a giant laundry list of life's mundane moments...but I don't really know how to deal with announcing news before it's really news. The long and the sort of it is, Dustin and I are exploring becoming foster parents. God's been putting this on my heart for a while now, and together, Dustin and I are leaning into that, to see if it might be something our family is called to. We haven't made any decisions or commitments yet, and I'm still confused, challenged, and tender about the whole thing, which is why I hesitate to put it out there too much. But I spoke about it at church a few weeks ago (watch the video for a much more complete and coherent summary of our process so far), sharing about living in the messy middle of things, not sure where we'll end up, but working on saying yes to just the step God is putting right in front of us. So for now, we're taking classes each Saturday to learn more, and we're praying about what this could mean for our lives...now, or in the future. I can't possibly sum up my feelings on it in a paragraph, but this a start in an effort to be more open about the heart shifts that are happening.

Feeling: really, really grateful.
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