Friday, July 29, 2016

Our first days in Michigan


This move easily has been the most exciting, but it's also been the most chaotic, exhausting, and the one that's thrown us the most curve balls.  From running out of diapers on a stretch of Montana highway to unexpectedly having to install a floor in our rental, we've had our patience tested.  We're still not settled, we still haven't done full grocery shopping.

But all of that doesn't really matter.  I mean, it kind of does, right?  I'm not going to lie and say that I haven't let out a big F-bomb when I've tripped over the tool used to cut the laminate floor for the third time; that I haven't lost my patience over finances; that adjusting to Ella and A sleeping in the same room hasn't been difficult.

Over the past few days, I've wanted to fast forward through the journey, through all the middles and the unknowns and hit play on the end.  The end without student loans and renting and moving and U-Hauls and not having enough money for work pants.

But, again, all of that doesn't really matter, because I (we) have been able to step back.  We can leave the unfinished floor and piled high boxes and laugh hysterically over a 3 dollar ice cream with friends, watch our kids jump around with the very people who I used to jump around with, and sit around a table with people who were kind enough to stock our fridge so we wouldn't have to worry.

And it's in being able to step back that allows me to reset and appreciate the journey as I should.  It's in the middles and the unknowns where we grow, build, find success.  I know one day, we will reach the end when we have our own house and I'll own more than one pair of post-baby work pants.  And what will we do when we get there?

We'll look back.  On the times when we didn't buy cheese for so many months to save money, when we packed up our whole family and moved across the country, on the times when we questioned and budgeted.

So as I sit here at midnight on a work night superficially pissed off but really, deeply joyful, I'm soaking in these pictures from our first days in Michigan.  And reminding myself even though the middles of life can be all the crap I usually want to fast forward through, that I rather live in a U-Haul for the rest of my life if it means getting to be around these people, these generous, loving, hilarious Detroiters.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Our cross country move to Michigan

It all started with an empty bed and a Skiphop fox backpack.  The day when we said "goodbye" to Washington and said "hello" to the road for 4 days.  What a 4 days it was.  Rolling hills, miles and miles of flat lands, breathtaking sunsets and sunrises, and an over-priced stay at Super 8.  After a couple 4AM wake-up times and 3,000 miles, we made it to the The Mitten.

Day 1 we drove through Washington, Idaho, and 100 miles into Montana.  Idaho was easily my favorite stop and state we saw throughout the trip.  The sunset, the hills, the water.  The scenery was stunning and peaceful.  We grabbed dinner dockside and dined with a view that made the 8 hours of driving worth it.  The post-dinner sugar high left us feeling a little ambitious and we made another 3 hour trek to Missoula, Montana where we stayed at a Motel 6 and all crashed around 2AM. 

After we woke up and (of course) made a Target run, we started day 2 and continued on to our our next stop, Billings, Montana, where we...went to Target.  (This should have been called our Tour of Targets Throughout the Country.)  As much as I'm always eager to run to any city's local Target, this stop was a run for diapers and diapers only.  The incredible heat and humidity made us want to run in and out and get back in our cars anyway.  Grabbed some Wendy's and bid farewell to Billings!  Next up?  Sheridan, Wyoming.

You know, casually modeling on the side of the road while standing in the car.  Clearly I missed my calling as a state brochure model.

One Wyoming sunset later, we were ready to find a place to stay and say "goodnight" to day 3.  We pulled off into a town called Sheridan and looked into 4 hotels all of which were completely booked.  Super 8 it was!  We paid way too much money for what we got, but Sheridan, Wyoming was apparently in high demand, so we paid our bill and crashed on the pillows.  A Wyoming sunrise later, we continued on.  Next up?  South Dakota.  Onto day 3.

If day 3 was a person, she'd say, are you sure you want to do this?  Day 3 was our ultra-ambitious day with a 14 hour day, 12.5 hours of driving time.  Impressively, our longest day was also the day we arrived at a hotel the earliest.  We ended day 3 with a glimpse of the Mississippi River, and we checked-in to this decked out Best Western (complete with a full water park) and ordered room service (which sounds a lot fancier than it actually was - no shade thrown at my greek salad).  The kids ran around, I watched a bit of the RNC convention (and promptly turned it off) and hit the hay.  Tomorrow would bring us day 4, and we needed all the sleep we could get but by the huge "Euchre sign up" sign, I knew we were getting closer.  Next up?  Michigan!

We woke up in La Crosse, Wisconsin, promptly got ready, and hit the road (but not before stopping at the local Starbucks).  On our day 4 itinerary was Indiana and Illinois.  The most exciting day, yes, but easily the hardest day of driving.  Indiana was Indiana and Illinois brought a lot of toll roads and Chicago, which felt like a mini LA.  It wasn't too long before we arrived at the Michigan Welcome Center.  Jumped out to take a picture and, in typical Michigan fashion, just barely beat the torrential downpours.  At this point, we had 3 more hours to go.  Some traffic and a few unexpected stops for the kids made the last few hours feel longer than they were, but my Tim Ferriss podcasts saw me through, and we made it to our destination around 7.  We were greeted with many friends who helped us unpack the entire U-Haul.  

And with one Michigan sunset later, our 4 day trek came to an end.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Packing up and moving out

I started packing a couple weeks ago.  Knowing Tim's last day at work was the Friday before the Sunday that we leave, I wanted to get as much done as I could during my days at home.  So, slowly, over the course of the past 14 days or so, I've been taking down and packing up our life as we've known it here in Washington.  At first, I was worried how Ella would process and handle these progressively increasing changes.  Her play corner that holds her toys, books, and table was one of the last things that went into boxes.  As the corner in our apartment filled with more boxes and the apartment continued to empty, she adjusted seamlessly.  She's helped me tape up boxes, pack up her toys, and clean the apartment.  Yeah, she's still a 2-year-old, I've had to unpack a few lone items in boxes that weren't supposed to be there, but all in all, she's left us in awe.

I plan to write about the move when we arrive in Michigan, I plan to do a post on what I bought for Ella, how I prepped the kids for 3-4 days in a car, and I plan to vlog along the way.  But this post? This post is nothing more than a post to say how proud of Ella we are.  This move has been the hardest yet.  Leaving Washington is bittersweet, and as we enter our last couple days here it's felt more bitter than sweet.  We're leaving family, we're leaving a state we love.  Ella's made it a little easier on us, and for that we're grateful.

So, sweet girl, if you read this when you're 16 or 26 or 32.  Know that you were once a dancing 2-year-old who was really grown up about and helpful with our ambitious move across the country. And we couldn't have been more proud of you.

We'll see you in Michigan.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A letter to my stay-at-home mom self

You've had a good run.  It's a hard gig.  It's controversial as to whether if it is the hardest gig, but since this time in your life is the only time that's sent you to therapy more than once, we'll leave it with saying it's certainly one of the hardest gigs out there.  No doubt.

You'll question a lot.  You'll freak out a lot.  You'll wake up in a panic and rush into her room to make sure she's still breathing.  You'll feel worse than you ever felt over the fact that breastfeeding didn't work out.

You'll think surely I can't do this.  But then you will.

You'll melt over her smiles and coos and dancing to Bruno Mars.  You'll face your highest highs and lowest lows of your 24-years on the planet.  You'll question if your work matters, if the perpetual routine of feeding, changing, reading, washing bottles that will almost immediately be dirtied and folding onesies that little hands will unfold will make a difference, get noticed, be appreciated.

You'll learn you're a soon-to-be stay-at-home mom of 2.  Elated your flying solo daughter will have a companion and parter-in-crime, you'll do the second round of nesting, preparing, budgeting with joy. The days of double feeding, double washing, double reading, playing, folding will come and they'll be hard.  You'll question a lot.  You'll freak out a lot.  But a little less so this time.  You'll see your oldest with your youngest and feel a brief moment of simultaneous fear and awe.

You'll think surely I can't do this.  But then you will.

Then the day will come when you'll be faced with the question of going back to work.  You'll accept a job offer but remain unsure.  You'll ask is it the right job, how will my kids react to the change, should I try harder to stay at home full-time?  Know there isn't a one-size-fits all sort of motherhood. Know every woman comes from different backgrounds, faced different upbringings, and has different temperaments that contribute to each woman's unique needs and personalities.  The fact that you're more prone to panic and anxiety when in an emotionally draining environment for 8+ hours at a time doesn't make you any less of a good mom or a woman, it's just another quirk thrown into the mix that makes you who you are, and who you are is pretty great; so be at rest.

And, then.  On that day you wake up yet again asking yourself if you're making the right decision, will your dedication to raising your babies full-time and at home over the past 2 and a half years be irrelevant, you'll notice your daughter say "thank you" after nearly every time something is done for or given to her.  You'll notice her running to get her little brother a stuffed animal when he's sad, ask her daddy if he's okay when he stubbed his toe, and gives you a hug when she notices you're sad. She'll blow Jesus kisses, fold her hands for Grace, genuflect at the pew, and say "Amen" after night prayer.  Her laughs, dancing, and smiles will remind you, even though the work of parenting never ends, that this 2 years of total dedication of being at-home was noticed, appreciated, and made a difference.  You'll be sad when acknowledging you may be at work when your littlest takes his first steps or says his first word, but know if that happens, you made the decision of going back to work while thinking of your family and its well-being (and then say a quick prayer of gratitude for FaceTime).

And if those comments - you know the ones, the ones that question a mom working, the ones that insinuate someone else is raising your kids - start comin', smile and say "have a good day."  Don't let someone else's judgement rob you of your confidence in knowing how to raise your family.  You know yourself, you know your husband, you know your kids.  They don't.  Remember it's not about the number of hours you "clock in" with your kids.  It's the listening, the being attentive, the putting down your phone and including them in cooking dinner that matters.

And then, the day will come.  They first day when you'll leave shortly after breakfast and before first naps.  The kids will look extra cute that morning with their blond wispy bed head and warm cheeks. You'll grab your coffee, dust off your heels, and your sweet, sweet girl will come running to give you a hug.

You'll think surely I can't do this.  But then you will.

Monday, July 11, 2016

From the weekend

We've officially entered our last week here in Washington.  I can't believe it.  

Our Saturday started out with our routine coffee visit, of course.  This trip, pastries were included.  Ella couldn't get out a "cheese" before she dove into her banana bread.

My most shining moment.  Yes, I play Pokemon Go.  Yes, I'm level 6.  Yes, I think it's great.  (While we're on the subject, let's take a moment to recognize that it is possible to play this game without getting into a car accident or going to the park at 3AM or running into a statue.)

Saturday evening with the cousins!  All morning, Ella was going around saying, "baby" referring to sweet little Rylie.  So Ella was pretty excited when she finally got her girl playtime in.

Family walk or family outing to catch some Pokemon?  You'll never know!

In all seriousness, I've been wanting to go out on this trail since we moved here.  We got out, got some sun, and got our steps (and our Pokemon) in for the day.

Ah, my sweet A.  He's been going through some sort of ... thing where he wakes right up before he's supposed to go to bed.  He laughs and screams and wants to play.  Last night was no different.  So I took him out on the patio and sat with him.  He screamed and bounced and cooed every time a breeze ran through his hair.  As he bounced, I sat back and took in the view of our back patio for one of the last times.

As much as moving to Michigan has been Tim's and my goal since we got married, I can't believe the time is finally here.  And looking back, I'm continually amazed by how fast time flies no matter what situation you find yourself in.  This chapter in our lives has, for me, reiterated to enjoy the journey, enjoy the ride.  The car will soon stop and it'll be time to get out and continue on.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Celebrating 3 years

These crazy kids went on an anniversary date night.  When my best friend offered to watch the kids so Tim and I could go celebrate our "I do", it was a little bit like Christmas and a birthday combined. Vocalizing all my bottled up date night energy, I told Tim, "Let's find a bar!"  Instead, we opted for our favorite Italian restaurant for a coffee and dessert, which made much more sense for these coffee lovers, anyway.  (Save the bar crawl for like, the 6 year anniversary, Tim?)

After dinner, we headed to Rocky Butte, a park with -- you guessed it -- quite a view.  It was here that we attempted a cute 3 year anniversary selfie to which we failed and ended up with this:

and talked about the last few years - isn't it crazy we have 2 kids and all that, isn't it weird that we don't have a car payment anymore? - and what our last days in Washington will look like, what will the first days in Michigan bring?

I tried to look cute.  I put on wedges and lipstick, but I didn't care what I was in.  I didn't care if Tim wore a button up.  It was us on a hill, spoiled by the generous skyline, with a coffee in each of our hands.  And that's where we started 6 years ago -- just us, a San Diego skyline, and a coffee in each of our hands because a boy offered to buy Starbucks for a girl.  (Spoiler: the girl said yes.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Our 4th of July weekend

Over the 4th of July weekend, my best friend came out from Michigan for a visit.  She came out last Summer, too, but I was pregnant and my energy was low, the temperatures were high and record-breaking, so we did a few fun Portland-tourist things.  But this year we reached for a fuller itinerary.  I think we succeeded!  Here's our staycay, Katie's visit, and our 4th of July weekend through pictures: 

Waiting for her arrival!  You know it's a special day when A gets in his suspenders.

She's here!  Let's go!

Night 1 was a night spent with the cousins.  With the move less than 2 weeks away, we've been wanting to get some cousin time in for Ella.  We swam, ate Mexican, indulged in ice cream, and watched the kiddos run around.  Family time well spent.

The first full day was all about hanging out, catching up, the kids getting (re)acquainted with Katie.  We got some ingredients for a homemade pizza night, and then Tim and I were off for an anniversary date night (pictures coming soon!) while Katie hung out with the kids.  (Thank you, Katie!)

Day 2 was beach day!  We hit the road for a mini-road trip and 2 hours later arrived at a beach we hadn't been to before - Cannon Beach.  It was beautiful!  Definitely made the top 3 favorite list.  It was relaxing, warm, and not crowded - the recipe for a perfect beach day.

Ella couldn't have loved the water more.  The freezing temp did not stop her, but it certainly stopped us.  She had to convince one of us to keep taking her back in.

Photo op!

Katie & A photo op!

Picture for my future vacation home dream board.

Excited to have got some sun, feeling awkward about my pose, but ready to eat!

After dinner at Cannon Beach, we headed over to Seaside, another cutesy beach town.  Stopping in at what holds the world's best ice cream - Zingers - was a must before we move.  My last taste of the best Black Cherry for a while!

Sunset at Seaside.

Day 3 was all about lady time and dinner in Portland.  We went and got manis and pedis, and it was the best.  While out, picking our colors of choice, debating if we should get gel or not, I was reminded of how important girl time is.  (Real important.)  (Thanks, hubby for watching the kids!)

"Downtown dinners are made better by extra bright pink tutus, don't ya think, Katie?"

My smile is saying "God bless the person who decided it was a good idea to include a dairy-free milkshake on the menu."  Katie's smile is saying, "Yay, dairy."

Day 4 was the day of exploration.  Multnomah Falls and a place called the Vista House hold some pretty magnificent views, so we decided to take Katie and soak up the scenery.  (But what doesn't hold a magnificent view in the Pacific Northwest?)

Clouds and mountains and greenery and water.  Have we entered a Bob Ross painting?  (Hi, Little Tree Friends!)


My 7-month-old is too cool to smile for a picture in front of the mountains, but we had no shame.  "CHEESE."

"It's cold, Daddy."

Day 5, Katie's final full day with us, was the 4th of July.  Inconveniently, my toddler was in a very toddler mood, so getting her to take a good nap held top priority.  Conveniently, she fell asleep for some hours and the day ended on a high note.

Nothing says freedom like bacon cheeseburgers and Doritos.  The 4th of July is the only day of the year I allow myself to eat Cool Ranch Doritos, so I was in Food Party Heaven.  'Til next time!

Our faces say "YAY. FIREWORKS."  We're thinking, "Pass the hand warmers."

It's almost time!

And with a few beautiful explosions in the sky, our staycay and Katie's visit came to an end.  The fireworks show delivered.  As each firework shot in the sky, Ella threw her arm out, finer pointed, pretending she was lighting them off.  (We're hoping for Hogwarts.)  But, after a while she began yelling "STOP" and things took a sudden turn.  This weekend was one of our last weekends in Washington, and it was a good one.  Thanks for spending it with us, Katie!

Katie's last visit can be found here, our first trip to Seaside can be found here, and our first 4th of July weekend in WA can be found here.