Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In Love With a House

I've always been a journal keeper.  I was inspired at a young age by reading the accounts of my own family members and feeling and imagining what their everyday lives were like.  I started writing my own stories, thoughts and dreams for my future while young, in hopes that I could maybe inspire or enlighten those who would come upon them later.

Even as a girl, I gave myself a few rules:

  1. Be honest
  2. As much as #1 might allow, see and record the positive
  3. Wherever I might be in the normal ebb and flow, record my testimony on the last pages of each book I filled
My high school journals are filled with stories of friendship, the dramas of the cheer squad, lists of names for my future children, and even every once in a while, secrets about whatever boy I might be quietly adoring at any given moment.

It is that last item that soon changed the rules for me.  It seemed that any time I liked a boy enough to commit our relationship (which may have simply been saying hello in the halls) to print, something would go bust.  There became a pattern -- once I'd write a boy's name in my journal, he'd get a girlfriend or I'd learn he had a judgement or character flaw I didn't admire or he showed some unkindness.  

Admitting in my journal that I had hope for a true love was a curse.  So I stopped.

For years and years and years I recorded every detail of my life except who I might be dating or interested in.  Finally, in a wild and crazy fit of confidence ten years ago I took my chances and wrote only this:  

December 7, 2003
Michael Hansen kissed me tonight.

The curse, of course, was broken.

I suppose now I'm having another wild and crazy fit of confidence.  I've refrained from admitting in print something I have the highest and greatest and noblest of hopes for, afraid I might curse myself again.  But I know now of a surety this is a forever thing, so I'm no longer nervous to record it.  Yes, I've fallen in love again -- this time with Michael by my side.  

I've fallen in love with a house.

On the same day, 18 months ago, that our sweet Millie was struggling in the hospital, our dear friend and realtor called to tell us a crusty old home in our ideal location had a new sign out front.  He warned us if we didn't decide immediately, we'd lose out to someone in the long queue placing their offers.  We're not immediate kind of deciders, so I know now it was a true blessing I was so preoccupied with the welfare of my baby to bother -- I told Michael to give it a shot and see what happened.

I can't even recount all of the miracles that unfolded in those 48 hours, but it ended up like this:  my baby survived, and we owned a house we'd never even peeked inside of.

Here we are, a year and a half later.  Plenty has happened since then:  we designed a new home and, after remarkable effort to save some portion, razed the old one.  Our foundation is poured, and framers are -- at this very moment -- scrambling to get the structure enclosed before the dead of winter.  We have sold our current home, our honeymoon and potty-training and learning to be a family house, to a beautiful new family who is allowing us to rent back for a season.

I have more to share, like amazing pencil sketches from our architects and the story of the fire department running drills on the old structure and just how emotional this process has been (so far!).  But it feels good first to just admit it.

I am in love.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

American Birthday Girl

Sophie turned lucky number seven, although we feel like to fortunate ones, just having her around.  You know what they say about small packages...  I tell you what -- this kid is a good thing!  

Art is this lady's passion, in a way I haven't seen before.  She can smell a colored pencil or oil pastel or watercolor a mile away, and is compelled to pick it up and put it to creative use.  She also loves science and nature.  

Here's a funny tidbit: she's a selective thrill-seeker.  She gets uncomfortably shy around new people, yet there's never any hesitation when it comes to thrill rides at amusement parks or watching movies with a spooky edge.

Kiddo is up for a good time, but she's also got an internal maturity about certain things.  For example (and I'm sorry this is a little graphic): she is an incredible barfer.  She has fantastic timing and aim, with no sort of afterdrama.  She just takes care of it.  Sometimes I don't know until the next morning that she's been sick.  With my own history, I consider this a little miracle from God that she was born this way.  And she's particularly watchful and sensitive to her sister, whether Millie is hurt or busted by Mom.  She's ready with a tender back-rub or hug.  She was also born with an unbelievable memory.  

We've been impressed recently with her thoughtful problem solving techniques.  Sometimes she'll plan ahead when she anticipates a sticky social situation by explaining to us what her game plan for a fair resolution might be.  A few days ago, she faced the awful situation many adults encounter -- she had to choose between two great things.  It was difficult to watch this kid wrestle internally, but we let her.  She made a choice, and explained her rationale.  It was awesome!

Favorite books:  anything she can read herself.  Favorite movies:  anything with Haley Mills.  Also the Pirates of the Carribean series.  She really wants a bunny for a pet.  

For her birthday un-party, Sophie asked if we could just have a few neighbor friends over with their American Girl dolls for a picnic.  Ummmm.... yeah!  We chose an all-American patriotic theme.  Same deal: short and sweet and simple.  And again, decor just fell out of the sky, by way of a collection of American Girl paraphernalia coupled with dollar store treasures and leftover wedding flowers (in adorably perfect vintage containers) in just the right colors that our friend offered up that very day!  Can you say "meant to be?!"   

Cute girls and their dolls enjoy a simple picnic on gingham blankets: grilled hot dogs, watermelon and Sophie's favorite sour cream & cheddar chips with vintage sodas.

Our retro wagon

Here's what is left of our activity.  We made vintage style patriotic crowns the girls could take home and wear for the 4th of July, with miniature versions to decorate for their dolls.  Within moments, the table was strewn with metallic ribbon, ric-rac, flag motif emblems, tulle and sparkly stars.  Instead of guiding the girls in any particular creative direction, we let them be personally inspired!

This was one of those last-minute-the-guests-are-coming-and-mommy's-reviewing-the-sewing-machine-owner's-manual deals, but oh boy, was Sophie proud to have matching outfits with her Caroline doll!

Did I mention this girl would take apple pie over fancy cupcakes any day?!  Here she goes again, making a wish on a crumble crust birthday pie!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Birthday Fairy

Sweet Millie turned four this summer!  She has truly graduated from toddler to little girl.  She remains the most affectionate and validating little person I've ever met; it is as though her default language is compliments, snuggles and "I love you"s.  Her trademark blonde bob is befitting her cheerful personality.  

Favorite books:  Princess Baby, Kiki's Blankie, Millie's Marvelous Hat, Rainbow Fish and anything by Mo Willems (but particularly That is NOT a Good Idea!).  Far and away, her favorite movie is "Babes in Toyland" with Annette Funicello.  It is so sweet.  Purple is her clear choice for anything with color -- clothing, crayons, game pieces, candy.  

She still sucks her thumb to sleep at night and snuggles with her blankies, though we've made a rule they must stay in her bedroom now.  We don't mind a few soothing tools but we don't need a Linus, after all.  Soon, these habits may change, as the doctor reported she needs a tonsillectomy.

She's so tall and leggy, she once reported her preschool teacher told her she should be a "baskee-ball girl" when she grows up, but with her femininity and sparkle, I think she's more likely to put those legs to use in ballet.  Still, who knows?  Millie is a child whose interests and strengths are still to be discovered.  I can't wait to watch her grow!  

This year, we opted for a short-and-sweet neighborhood playdate with the girls instead of a blowout birthday bash.  I committed to spend very little money and the fewest man-hours possible, and just make it about Millie.  From a stash of dress-up wings I picked up at the dollar store a while back, a fairy theme grew.  The day before I stumbled upon a few ridiculously inexpensive little whimsical woodland fairy village type pieces, so I added a little decor to the day, with plans to add them to our new garden in the future.  It was the simplest and most relaxed celebration to date -- and it was so great!

Pixie homes were tucked in our front planters, with little wooden ladders for fairy access.

Our front door, with banners made of images of flower fairies from a vintage children's book I found online and a wreath featuring the birthday girl.

Started off with coloring pages, as usual

We had a simple craft activity -- I nabbed some tree branches from our other property for woodland fairy wands.  Each girl affixed a tulle ball on top and tied a few ribbons for extra magic.
Then, the ladies used their wands for a fairy hunt Sophie coordinated all on her own.

Our supply/display table with more woodland fairy villages -- including a darling windmill and a garden bench!
She seems happy with her digs.
Multitasking fairy wings -- I hung them as a decorative overhead banner, then passed them out as favors. 
On our way to the bakery to pick up a cake, the girls excitedly asked if they could bake one instead.  You know what?  I just went with it.  I turned the car toward the grocery store to pick up a mix, pre-made purple frosting and a few random embellishments of Millie's choice.  It turned out the be such a fun experience to create this cake!  It was just what she wanted!
Make a wish!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Figuring it All Out

I'm not really figuring it all out.  Just blog stuff.

Last year for Christmas I got a new computer.  I had trouble navigating how it changed my blogging routine, so I just stopped doing it.  And that's ok, because the primary purpose of this blog is not for public consumption.  However, my family journalling (which is the primary purpose) fell into a dreadful funk.  

Now I've tackled a few of the glitches.  That means (slowly) performing maintenance on my family documentation.  If you're a Reader reader, you may get things way out of order.  Sorry.  But so glad I'll be able to save a few more memories for our little fam!