Big Decisions, Big Changes

Toward the end of last year we were faced with a big decision to make, one that would impact our family in a huge way. At this point, there is no direction to go but forward, so I feel comfortable sharing about it here. We are moving to California.

My husband was given a relocation request and offered a new territory; however, this offer was all or nothing. If we didn’t choose to move, he would be out of a job, and I’m a full time stay at home, so you could imagine how we felt.

We have lived in Washington for 11 years, we bought our forever home about 3 years ago, assuming that we would take our time renovating and making it into our dream home. We love living here, have made friends that are family, and my dad moved here to be closer to us, so to even consider a move is a gut wrenching decision. Our boys have seen the same doctors since birth and Dominic has seen the same therapists since he was 6 months old, and the thought of having to change things for them literally brought me to tears. We have a community here, one that we love and feel privileged in which to belong.

With all of that said, it’s March and the wheels are turning, this move is happening. I know, how did we get here? How could we leave all of this? I wondered what the answer was, I struggled to understand why this had to be so hard. We weighed the pros and cons, I cried (a lot), I wrote (a lot), I talked to family and friends, we researched, we talked about it (a lot), I cried some more, and then after all of that, we followed our gut. A couple of other job opportunities for my husband have come up, but nothing paid enough. We considered me going back to work and him staying home but I wouldn’t be able to match his pay, we looked into both of us working and putting the boys into daycare, and we even thought about me working part time while my husband was available to watch them, ultimately having little time together or as a family. What it all comes down to is our values and how we want to raise our boys.

As hard as this move already is and will be, as hard as being away from my dad will be, as hard as this whole transition will be, in my heart I know that moving the boys to daycare or having to struggle financially will be harder. My husband and I always wanted me to stay home with the boys and that window of time is closing in faster than I’m ready for, so it’s now or never. If you know about our infertility struggles, you know that it’s unlikely I will get to become a mom again. And before we know it, they will be off to kindergarten and these precious years will be over. We will be on to a new season of life, and I’m sure it will be wonderful, but this is where we are now, and we feel like we have made the best decision for us.

This new territory means a raise for my husband, which will allow us to save some money. And the biggest plus of moving back to southern California is that we will have tremendous support and a wonderful social life. We have family and friends, and the boys will get to spend more time with their cousins. I’m thinking of this as a beautiful adventure. There will be difficult moments, moments when I feel like I’ve made the wrong decision, but I know that we made this decision as a couple and that we support each other 100%. If there is love and respect, it’ll all be okay. Besides, time flies, we will be home before we know it.

xo

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Less is More?

How many of you have been down the “less is more” road? I have read quite a bit about minimalism, and how it can positively impact other aspects of life. For example, if you have fewer plates and cups, you will have less dishes to do. If you have a capsule wardrobe, you will love everything you wear and get dressed with ease. If you have less knick knacks, cleaning is simpler. This all sounds pretty good, right? I’m sold but not so great at execution. Have any of you embraced a minimalistic lifestyle?

I have been trying to simplify our lives as a whole. I want to cook with real foods, raise boys that would prefer playing outside to sitting in front of a screen, and to focus on our well being, not on what we don’t have. Yet, I still find myself buying food that is more convenient than whole, using TV as a crutch and wishing I had things that we don’t.

Here is what I have done so far and how I feel about it…

I have purged my closet multiple times and am left with the bare minimum, which I like a lot. I definitely see holes in my wardrobe, and I will fill them in over time.

I have pared down items in my kitchen, and it definitely helps. I know what kitchen gadgets I have, and there is nothing hiding in the dark corners of my cabinets. I cut down my mugs in half, and it’s fine. Who knew?!

About 1/8 of the boys’ toys got donated or shared with friends, and I wish I could do more but am having a hard time. We keep a large stash of toys in our guest room, and every so often I swap them out to keep things new and fresh for the boys. And what you see in the photo above is about half of the toys they have in their main play area, which is in what used to be our dining room.

I cleared our ottoman and found so many things in there that we didn’t need to keep. Now, it houses a small bin with diapers and wipes, a tray in case we need it to hold drinks, a current book and magazine, and a lint roller for the couch because we have dogs that shed. I can see everything now, and I can get to items so we can actually use them.

In the kitchen, last fall I really embraced baking bread from scratch and I’m so glad I did. Bread has simple ingredients, doesn’t take that much effort and is so good.

Meal planning and cooking a few things ahead of time helps keep food real and nutritious. It’s the nights when we have no plan that I end up pulling ravioli out of the freezer. I have tried various methods of meal planning and haven’t quite settled on one yet. Thoughts?

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My nightstand should only contain a few items but houses far more. The top drawer of my nightstand has everything from jewelry to a flashlight. I’d love to be able to put a book in my top drawer and keep the surface clear. As for the bottom cabinet…does anyone else keep perfume they don’t wear? Why? Why do I have multiple bottles?

I’d like to ditch the old, tattered linens, and eventually buy a set of nice sheets for each bed in the house.

Since it’s now the colder season, crockpot cooking is the way to go, so I’d like to do a slow cooker recipe a week. I even have a pressure cooker, which is fantastic for beans, rice and a. ton of other things. Nutritious foods don’t have to be difficult, but you do have to plan a little.

Purging is good for the soul, and it feels great to drop unneeded items for donation. I hope to think more about what I bring into our home, and to live with less, appreciating what we have. I have read about classes and programs to streamline the process, but I’m okay taking my time to do this. And at the end of the day, it’s all about making my boys the best people possible, making sure they appreciate what they have, and for that I will stay the course no matter how long it takes.

XO

Life with Two Tiny Humans

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The last time I shared a post, the boys were 3 months old, and so much has changed since then as we approach their first birthday. I have missed writing here and sharing about our life, so I have given the blog a new look and will be sharing as much as possible about what’s going on here. I will, of course, be more focused on motherhood, but I will still share about cooking and food, secondhand finds, home renovations and decor, and our adventures. For any of you that are new here, allow me to fill you in a bit.

After a long struggle with infertility, the combination of an amazing doctor and his team of nurses along with tremendous support from family and friends, we hit the baby jackpot and became pregnant with twins. Our boys are the greatest gift imaginable and our lives are forever changed. Giovanni is spunky and curious, while Dominic is sweet and soulful, and their love for each other is clear. Dominic was born with Down Syndrome, so not only are we new to parenthood and twin life, but we are also a part of this wonderful Down Syndrome community.

Back when I was writing more regularly, we were in the first home we purchased, enjoying Taco Tuesdays, I worked full time, and my adventures involved lattes and concerts. Nowadays, we are in our forever home, and as a full time stay at home mom, I cook more often than Tuesdays and it’s not usually tacos, and our adventures are leisurely walks and sometimes include farm animals. Life has evolved into something new and it’s pretty amazing.

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I do hope that you’re along for this new ride with me and my tribe.

xo

 

Nearly Three Months In…


Here we are, nearly three months in to being a family of four. We have had a blast and feel so lucky to be parents to these handsome boys.

My thoughts about being a mom to twin boys? I have heard people say things like, “twice blessed”, “twice as much love”, “double the love”, but for us, it’s all we know. Since we struggled for so long, I am just tremendously happy and humbled to be a mom.

Just like with one baby, we have some nights in which sleep is a distant memory. We have days when you look at them and wonder where the time went and how the heck they got so big. Unlike singleton mamas, there are days when I wish I had four arms, so I could snuggle and comfort them both at the same time. That is probably the hardest thing. I’m rarely alone with the boys because I have an amazing support system, but when I am and they are both fussy, it’s hard to know that I can’t make them both feel better. But, this comes with the territory, and it’s just one more thing to figure out and overcome. You just try things and figure out what works. Isn’t that motherhood, in a nutshell?

At this point, I’m easing back into work, struggling to get my body (or something close to it) back, and loving being a mama. Life is settling, getting out is easier, and I care again about things like socializing and washing my hair. It sounds crazy, but I swear to you that I was averaging a shower every other day and washing my hair three times a week. For those that know me, you understand how crazy that is. I normally wash my hair everyday, even though I know it’s not the healthiest for my hair. Anyway, I care again!

Things I am looking forward to, and my mini Summer Bucket List…

Getting out in the sunshine a few times a week! With the babies, the days fly by, and I can’t tell you how many times I have had the best intentions to get out for a walk, only to realize that my day was gone.

Reading for pleasure!  I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t reading about baby development or sleep training.

Cooking a meal once a week! I’ve been doing a lot of sandwiches, pasta, and finishing up our freezer meals. As y’all know, I love to cook and I miss it.

Going to a family friendly outdoor concert! My husband and I are big fans of going to outdoor concerts and we love music. In fact, Saturday mornings are my favorite because we bathe the boys, listen to music and eat breakfast together. We are introducing the boys to our favorites. Anyhow, a family friendly, daytime outdoor concert would be amazing.

Hiking! It’s one of the reasons we love living here, but we haven’t been able to get out lately.

Camping! I know this one is a bit more ambitious, but I really feel like it’s a possibility toward the end of the summer. Let’s talk about that again toward the end of the summer.

Tackle a home renovation project! An extremely cheap home renovation project. Being home just motivates me more, and unfortunately we have no money to put into the house right now. Maybe we will find something we can afford to tackle, and I can share all the details with you.

Writing a post once a week! It would be really lovely to write a little something once a week, to carve out that time for me and you. I’d also love to see how this blog evolves. Like parenting, I’m not making any plans, just trying to go with the flow and listen to my heart.

With that said, it feels great to be back here and to write a little something.

Have a great rest of your week!

xo

 

Currently.

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READING…Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. Love her.

LISTENING…to Serial. I know I’m late to the game, but whoa. I cannot stress enough how good it is. Serial had me hooked from the very first episode and kept me totally entertained while packing.

EATING…way too much takeout. Gross, I know. My saving grace has been the occasional piece of avocado toast. I have been toasting the bread on the stove top with a little coconut oil, and then spreading mashed avocado over the top with a dash of sea salt.

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DRINKING…homemade ginger tea. My aunt shared her recipe with me. I used a large pot and filled it about 3/4 of the way with water, and then I chopped 2 apples (I used organic Fuji apples), grated about 1/4 cup of fresh ginger, and then added lemon slices (1 lemon). I let that simmer on the stove for about 4 hours. When it’s done, I used a strainer to transfer it to a pitcher. I served it with a little honey, piping hot. While I was sick, this was my saving grace.

SUCCEEDING…in moving! Sorry, but this is huge. I’m going to continue to pat ourselves on the back for being in the new house. As of now, we are totally moved into our master bedroom, master bath, and kitchen. Everything else is a little bit of a mess, but we are getting there, one box at a time.

FAILING…at eating well. When you have a lot going on and little access to the kitchen, it’s really hard to eat well. I’m getting back on the cooking train though!

LOVING…the new house. It feels so cozy and I cannot get over the view when I wake up in the morning. We are so fortunate.

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WAITING…to buy new furniture. We have bought a new sofa because we needed it, but other than that, we are holding off on any big purchases. For now, window shopping is where it’s at.

WEARING…leggings like they’re going out of style. I’ve been in need of stretchy pants all day, everyday with this move.

Lastly, a huge thank you to my Dad. He just left last week, and it was so great having him here. I know the dogs are totally comfortable in their new home now, thanks to him spending so much time making sure they adjusted well.

Happy Monday!

xo

Life Update // Buying & Selling

I have been MIA since October. First and foremost, all is great with us and my absence has been due to a positive change. How some bloggers have children, a full time job, undergo what we did and still make time to write, I just have no idea. I have drafted one other post in the last couple months. ONE. However, I refuse to beat myself up over this because I write out of love and do the best I can. That’s all I can do.

Let me explain.

In October I traveled to Colorado for my Uncle Tito’s funeral. He was a kind, big hearted, faithful and inspirational man. His passing brought family together like I’ve never seen before. Celebrating him made me feel proud to be his niece, regretful for not spending more time with him, and so very devastated that we lost someone with such a bright light. He is an incredible man and is resting peacefully now.

While I was away, my husband found “the perfect house”. He claims that he could feel my eye roll all the way in Washington. Since I was in Colorado with my family, I truly didn’t have much time to really entertain the idea. I did look at the link he sent and it was pretty incredible, but my mind and my heart were with my mom and my grandma. After an exhausting few days, I flew home on Sunday morning, and by the end of the day we were at “the perfect house”, peering into windows and walking the grounds. We reached out to the realtor and scheduled an appointment to see this house on Monday.

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Whoa, this is getting real.

When we arrived on Monday, we were greeted by the homeowner, a kind older man named Lyle. He was sweet, and he gave us the grand tour, including all kinds of tidbits like “this is where we opened Christmas gifts” and “I switched this breaker out in ’87”. We joke that we are this couple about 30 years ago. Char, Lyle’s wife, loves to sew and make jewelry, so she had a craft room and a jewelry making room. She also had a greenhouse! If that’s not me, I don’t know what is. Lyle had built a 1300 sq ft wood shop. This is the stuff men’s dreams are made of. I swear, when he opened the doors, angels sang and Marv’s eyes were replaced with hearts, just like the emoji. And the yard…the home is on 1.5 acres and the thought of seeing our dogs run free makes my heart so happy. The things that really make this home perfect are the compromises. Marv has always wanted land, but I’m terrified to live out in the country where it gets really quiet. I grew up with the noise of a train, I-580, and BART. Silence scares me…can we say horror movie? Anyway, this home is just off of a main road, so there is noise, thank goodness. For the other compromise, with land comes a larger house, normally. I didn’t want a 3000 sq ft home. It’s just too much house and it’s not us. This home…just under 2100 sq ft. Perfection.

I am so glad that the realtor wasn’t available, and that we got a tour from the one and only owner of the home, who loved and care for the property for 37 years. He was so attentive and forthcoming with information about the house, and we really hit it off with him and were there for just under 2 hours.

We want this house, but ours isn’t ready to list.

This was around the time I began to realize that my life would be pretty crazy for a while. By that Wednesday, we decided to go for it and list the house, buuuuut it wasn’t quite ready yet. We immediately dove into the small projects that we had been putting off for years. In addition to small projects, we had two large projects — the demo of our income property that occupied the garage and buying a new garage door. Now, we had asked multiple realtors, and for our neighborhood, a garage is far more desirable than an income property. Not to mention that the income property was not done well. Simple answer…demo and turn it into a usable garage. In addition to making it a usable garage, we figured it was high time to upgrade the garage door and get an automatic opener.  So, between our two large projects, small projects, and painting the entire interior of the home –neutral, neutral, neutral– we guessed that we were looking at two weeks for completion, which really means more like 3 weeks. If you are a DIY’er, you know this to be very true. So, here we are, October 22nd, about a month away from Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season. If we cannot complete everything within 3 weeks, I feared our home would be listed during the holidays and sit, and that we would not be able to get “the perfect house”.

Here goes nothing.

Every evening after work and every weekend was devoted to getting our home ready. Our friends and family were an amazing source of support during this time. Friends came over to help us paint and do projects, and my family was constantly checking in and offering encouragement. This time was hard for us. I was exhausted, and when I was at work, I was thinking about home projects. I wasn’t eating well, and I was worried, constantly worried. Have we bitten off more than we can chew? Halloween came and went, and one of my favorite holidays barely got celebrated. My dad offered to fly out from California and help us, but what if we couldn’t get it together in time, or what if we weren’t able to get the new house, and it was all for nothing? Not to mention, we were living in chaos. Furniture everywhere, paint cans everywhere, boxes full of things that needed to go to the storage unit, etc. It wasn’t pretty.

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We did it!

Somehow, someway, with a ton of elbow grease and help from our friends, we pulled it off. Our home was listed on November 16th, and so began the crazy rollercoaster ride of living with two dogs in a staged home. I have no idea how people with kids, jobs, and pets do this. Here is our staged home.

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Let’s get down to specifics.

We were fortunate enough to have a ton of activity on our home. Our first open house brought through 25 parties (and that’s excluding neighbors), second open house brought through 20 parties, and we had many viewings in between. In week 1, with some parties coming back for multiple visits, we thought we might actually see an offer in week 1. The market, my friends, is a tough thing to figure out. Some parties came through three times and didn’t write an offer, and worse, they didn’t have very specific feedback.

Now, this may sound crazy, but we chose to lower the list price at day 9. Unfortunately, time was not on our side. You see, in order to buy “the perfect house” we had to sell our house, so we did what’s referred to as a contingency offer. Because of this contingency, we were given two weeks to get an offer on our house before our offer on the other house expired.  The pressure was on, and it was a very stressful time. So, at the advisement of our realtor, we went ahead and lowered the price. We had two offers by day 10, and one was simply stronger than the other, so we accepted and began the next step of buying and selling, namely paperwork and inspections.

Inspections are so important. They give the buyer peace of mind about what they are purchasing and open their eyes to what projects and costs could come up, and that gives them the opportunity to walk away if these unseen issues are too grave. Lucky for us, “the perfect home” was well taken care of and we felt good about the outcome of our inspection. We did a little bit of negotiating about some things that were nearing the end of their life and would need to be replaced sooner rather than later.

Now, to be the seller on the other side of this  –it’s a little nerve racking. “Do we do that right?” “Could there be something that our home inspector didn’t catch back when we bought the house?” “Are these novice home buyers going to be scared off by a project or two?” “How much are we willing to pay out in credits for repairs?” Oy, to be on the seller side (and to be a total worrier about EVERYTHING).

We were very lucky on both ends, and after a little bit of negotiations the inspection process was over, more paperwork was signed and now we are waiting and…

Packing!

That’s right guys, we close and move tomorrow. I can hardly believe that it’s finally here.

Sigh of relief.

This has been stressful and exhausting, but there is no feeling like it. We worked really, really hard on our first home, and it all paid off, and now we are on to the next phase of home ownership. I am so excited to get started on home projects and make it our own. Just so you all know, we are going to take our time on projects. This house is fantastic as is, so we are going to move our stuff in and see what feels right. Of course, I already have a mental plan, many, many Pins, and tons of lists already, but this is it for us, so we are going to save, do our research and make good decisions. This is a totally new floorplan for us, a different lifestyle to an extent, and it’ll be a family home.

Thanks so much for your patience and support.

xo

**all pics were pulled from Zillow.com

Life in Photos: Long Overdue

I haven’t done a Life in Photos post for a long time. We have been so busy and it has been so hard to carve out a little time to write, but one thing I can do, is share some photos.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI have been sprucing up my home studio. We recently moved a bookshelf in there and I rearranged some books and supplies. I love the way it came out. I am thinking about adding some contact paper to the shelf backings to brighten this up.

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Another common occurrence in our home is soup. I recently made creamy asparagus soup and it was delicious. You should give it a try…hop over to My San Francisco Kitchen for the recipe.
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I also made this scarf! This fabric was in the clearance bin at the fabric store, and it was love at first sight. I have been wearing it constantly, just ask my husband and co-workers.

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Lastly, I have been reading Grace Coddington’s memoir, and I adore her. She tells it like it is, has amazing style and is a creative genius. As a fashion lover, reading about her incredible life experiences is so inspiring. Shout out to Keely for the great recommendation! And side note, how cozy does my bedroom look here? I love you, Fall.

xo