we got home from indiana on sunday night ... a good quick trip to celebrate thanksgiving with marc's family, then monday we were thrust back into madness. high school swimming started, harp's club swimming started, time to pull out christmas stuff, a million errands ... and other harder, sadder events that would affect the week.
regardless, tuesday morning, there was snowflake - snuggled up with gray kitty on a chair in harper's room. and there was much excitement.
wednesday, she brought a fun elf puzzle and tried to get it put together before morning. she didn't quite make it, even with gray kitty's help.
thursday, snowflake decided to get a little snarky, and remind me that those eight loads of towels and sheets i washed before thanksgiving were still on top of the washing machine, waiting to be folded. snowflake, apparently, doesn't understand my schedule. at least Towel Mountain was clean.
this morning, snowflake was literally the elf on the shelf. but with a cheeky little twist.
fall in minnesota. to borrow vernacular from the kids:
i. can't. even.
i find myself stopping at windows, just staring out across the yard. i mean, really ... wouldn't you?
i even managed to squeeze in five minutes with the kids while it was still amazing.
then, minute 5:01:
and at 5:02:
and that was that. today? gray, raining, cool. very fall-like, and the leaves are dropping fast. wonderful, really, but the beauty is fading.
luckily, we managed to make it to the orchard last weekend, when it was still bright and crunchy and golden.
("how tall this fall" used to be cuter.)
hopefully this weekend there will be time to carve these bad boys. next week is a busy one ... often, pumpkins end up a rush job at the last minute.
also, stay tuned next week for a four-year house update. pinterest has garnered our little place a lot of attention, and many questions have come to me about what more we've done since moving in. the house is pretty clean right now, so next week i'll share house pix.
back in may, for mother's day, i requested a walk through my favorite minneapolis neighborhood to look at all the beautiful old homes near lake harriet. while we were walking, we noticed one of the houses was completely wrapped up and under construction. i worried that someone was taking something historic and turning it into something that wouldn't fit the neighborhood.
i shouldn't have worried.
a couple of months later, i was reading minneapolis-st paul magazine, and saw the teaser for the upcoming ASID showcase home tour in minneapolis - where designers from the area take over a house, and work together to make it a showstopper, then let the public walk through and experience the amazingness of their work. while i was looking at the style boards for the various rooms, i noticed a very strong coastal/turquoise vibe, so i took a pic of the magazine page, and sent my friend erin a message:
"we should go."
"yes," she replied.
see, erin is also obsessed with beautiful houses, coastal vibes, and the color turquoise. in fact, she's so obsessed that she started a website, house of turquoise, specifically to catalog and share that love with the world. which is how i came to know her.
and last week, erin sent me a message: we're going through the showcase home.
the homeowner, it turns out, is also a fan of coastal vibes and the color turquoise, and when she agreed to allow her home's renovation to be the featured showcase home, she gave the designers links to house of turquoise to show them her inspiration rooms and style. and then when the home was finished, she reached out to erin and, as a thank you, invited her to privately tour the home that had been so inspired by the beautiful coastal and turquoise homes that have been featured on the site.
and - coming full circle - when i pulled up in front of the showcase home, i realized it was the house that had been under renovation in may in my favorite neighborhood.
i freaking love serendipity.
when you walk in the (super cute, light turquoise, dutch) front door, it is immediately clear that the theme of this house is "coastal", but it is also "family". the home feels warm and personal and intentional ... my three favorite qualities in a house. and while the designers did an amazing job designing and decorating the home, it doesn't feel "decorated" for the sake of tchotchkes and filling walls, but rather it feels like the family's personality is in every corner. which is no small feat, considering the size of the house.
erin has posted a tour of the home on house of turquoise with the official photos of the rooms. here are photos i took of the moments in the home i found the most special, and the design decisions that jumped out at me as most inspirational.
the house started with a blue bicycle the homeowners found at a hardware store. from there, every corner of this home is touched with a coastal vibe, without ever falling down the "theme" trapdoor. wood tones are all grayed and weathered, finishes are simple instead of precious, colors are sand and sky and water. and light and air flow through this house like it's sitting on the water, instead of in a neighborhood in minnesota.
light fixtures and art throughout the house emphasize the beach, the lake, coral and driftwood.
(the most luminous, amazing photograph i've ever seen.)
with this much wall space, the designers wisely chose to use wallpapers in many spaces to break up all the flat surfaces. it added warmth and depth to the rooms. the different grass cloth textures were my favorite, but there were also patterns and colors, not to mention different textures, from planking to ship lap to corrugated metal.
(i mean, maps inside the niche? amazing.)
3. the fifth wall
one thing you don't initially notice in this house - because your eyes are going everywhere at once - is that even the ceilings got attention. and it if was in just one or two rooms, it might seem like a gimmick, but it was in nearly every room, and works perfectly. decorating the ceiling was just one more of those, "oh, wow!" things about this house.
if you watch hgtv, you'd think the only surface available for counters is granite, but there wasn't a bit of it in this house. amazing cambria counter surfaces were used throughout, including a marble-esque version that is so new that this house is its world premiere.
all of the shower floors have river rock tile, which the homeowner says reminds her of beach houses, and is so much smoother and more comfortable on the feet.
5. personal touches
model homes and show homes are lovely, but what i want to see is the personality of the family who makes the house a home. this home had that in abundance.
this amazing mural ... i don't know how long it was (seven feet, maybe? eight?), but it took up the entire upstairs hallway. one large family photo mural, framed in rustic wood. so genius, and so perfect. in fact, nearly every piece of art on the walls in this home hearkens back to a place or a memory or something special to the family.
see the little gymnast? that's the homeowner's daughter. a perfect little detail in her lovely room.
like, i'm sure, many people, i always save little bits of memorabilia, with no idea what to do with it. here, those postcards and ticket stubs are tucked away in a special glass box, so they can be seen and remembered without being clutter. brilliant.
this cabinet is dedicated to the family's love of travel. their guide books to different states and countries, photos from their vacations, seashells they've found ... all gathered in one place to honor them and enjoy their memories.
the family owns a vineyard, and this is their wine label: a drawing of their daughters, and the name is a combination of both girls' names. the butterfly is in honor of their daughter, faith, whom they lost at birth. (you can read more about the amazing thing this family has done in faith's honor here.)
6. and, of course, turquoise
(you know i love a good barn door.)
if you are in the minneapolis area, you must go see this place! this is the final weekend, and tickets are $20. every designer did an amazing job ... this house is perfection! inspiration and 'wow' moments at every turn. it is truly a dream home.
all last year, i freaked out about the whole "my kid is in high school!" thing. the idea that henry is almost out the door and on his way into adulthood - and into the years when he doesn't need us and won't be around - doesn't exactly fill me with glee. but for the most part, his freshman year looked a whole lot like middle school: same friends, same swim teams, same interests, no major changes.
then his sophomore year arrived.
and with it, hours a day spent on homework (i mean, pre-calculus? who is this child??) drastically increased, making time to let him drive the car became a thing, and ... then there was a girl.
it started with:
him: is it okay if i go to homecoming?
me: game or dance?
me: of course. why wouldn't it be okay?
him: well ... wouldn't i have to get a suit or something?
me: are you thinking of taking a girl?
him: ... maybe.
and then he DID ask the girl. and she said yes. and then he asked her out for a date before the dance to make sure they were comfortable together. and then they decided to label themselves a "couple".
this is so, so new. and different.
but she's an adorable girl, and they seem to really get along well. and the dance came, and with it plans to hang out with friends before and after, and they had a great time (from what i hear).
these are great kids. and i know they will have great times in the next three years. and it's fun to see them becoming young adults ... especially the ones i've known since they were in first grade.
but it's all just another reminder that they are growing up. and it's fun to watch.
if you've read my blog for any amount of time over a year, you know that a) i adore autumn, and the coming holiday season, and b) every year my autumn, and coming holiday season, goes to hell.
this year, on the first day of autumn, i had to see a doctor about a painful eye situation, only to discover a blocked and infected tear duct, that had to be drained (with a needle, thankyouverymuch) and then "milked" (just as fun as it sounds), and then treated with antibiotics. and tomorrow, on the second day of autumn, i will go to a surgeon to see how to reconstruct part of my left nostril, which i lost 10 days ago to basal cell carcinoma.
the autumn, and coming holiday season, are off to a dubious start.
nonetheless, i can't wait to "autumn" all the things! some pretty pumpkins are now on the porch, i have the fall flowers for the window box, the summery pillows and photos are getting replaced with the autumny ones. and i'm starting to look around the house to see what projects are on the list. i will tell marc i want them done by the holidays. they may actually get done by next year's holidays. it's how we roll.
we've been in our house for four years now (what???), and we're pretty much settled in and squared away. but there are a few tweaks that are on the horizon, and a few changes that we're ready to make.
current inspiration for those tweaks and changes:
1. shelves like these.
| source unknown |
there is a wall in our basement that currently is home to an ikea expedit shelf. there is general flotsam and stash on those shelves. however, there are bundles of martha stewart magazines dating back to 1996 in the closet, just begging to be enjoyed again. i foresee some rustic, warm wood shelves lining that wall on some cool iron brackets, maybe get some lights installed above the shelves for a little spot lighting.
2. now that my craigslist-find chair and ottoman have been restored, and our new king-size bed is here, our master bedroom is at about 90%. we just need to get some art on the walls and curtains on the windows. trying to figure out exactly what direction to go in ... art above the nightstands, flanking the bed? or art or a mirror above the headboard and nothing above the nightstands? still debating. but i'm pretty sure the curtains will be white, because ... well ... of course.
when we switched out our old bed, we moved it to the basement, which meant we moved the basement guest bed to the upstairs guest room. and we moved the upstairs guest beds to the garage. we still need to get the beds put back together (literally back together ... not just "i need to make the beds", but "i need to MAKE the beds"), which needs to happen before company comes, which means when i tell my husband that i'd like him to do it this weekend, it really means "for the love of god just put those beds back together since it's been a month." or something like that.
4. we're also in the process of getting estimates to finally put on a screened-in porch on the back of the house. it won't happen until spring, but we need to know exactly how much money we're talking with this. and if it sounds straightforward, it isn't. marc threw a wrench in the works by declaring that our mechanical room is no longer sufficient for his geek needs, so we may need to add on a server room under the porch. and, if we're going that far, we might as well go a little farther and attach a storage room for yard equipment, etc.
i wasn't thrilled when i heard that. "screened-in porch" suddenly became "nah ... we don't need to send the kids to college." oh well. i just have to focus on the pretty ... these inspiration pix distract me from googling "how to homeschool for a college degree."
once my face heals and things no longer hurt, i'll try to clean up the joint and take some updated pictures of the place. there are so many of you out there who have loved my home (thank you!) via pinterest, and have asked to see how it looks now that it's more complete. i'll do my best to oblige in the coming weeks!
until then, go pick some apples, pull out the flannel sheets, and enjoy a pumpkin muffin!
not that i'm complaining - heat and humidity are my two least favorite types of weather - but summers go faster each year. it's crazy.
one minute it's the last day of school ...
and the next 90 days stretch before us like taffy, sticky and stretching longer the more we try to reach the end. then suddenly the days on the calendar are filled with events and camps and swimming and life, and the summer flies by.
every year, i tell you.
this year has been no exception. we just finished the first week of freedom that we've had since june. it was lovely and restful, but also included things like summer homework and dentist appointments and weeding the garden ... things that haven't fit into the schedule until now.
school ended, marc took off for a week in boston, and harp and her bff had picnics and bug hunts ...
while henry and his guys hung out with a buddy who would be moving away by the end of the month.
and then, two weeks into summer break, we headed to new england.
the kids and i flew out to meet marc on friday. he was waiting at the airport with a rental car, then we grabbed our luggage and pointed to the seaport for a lobster roll and a summer stroll along the water.
saturday, we made a list of the boston things we haven't done before, and set out to mark them off. first stop was the skywalk observatory at the prudential building. 360 degree views of my favorite city.
(someday one of those brownstones will be mine. that's the dream, anyway.)
(henry had to pretend to play because his podium wasn't working. he still kicked butt.)
then we walked to the christian science monitor center so i could finally, finally see the maparium, which has been on my to do list for, like, eight years and every trip to boston. click on the link; photos weren't allowed in the maparium, but it was amazing. so cool. even the kids were wowed.
(one of the country's largest pipe organs)
we walked around a little more, got our favorite sushi, etc.
sunday morning was rainy and cold ... perfect day to head to maine.
we kept an eye on the weather and decided to take the scenic route. and by scenic route i mean spend the day in salem, mass.
first was lunch ... and a meltdown from miss harper, which is typical of a meal with harper.
then we got passes to three museums - the witch dungeon museum, witch history museum, and pirate museum. the museums were very interesting ... little, and more than a tad cheesy, but also sad. the whole history of salem left me feeling horrified and outraged by how cruel people can be when they are so narrow-minded and led by fear.
then we just wandered salem. very cool little town: brick streets, lovely homes, dunkin' donuts. and we found a stick installation from artist patrick dougherty.
from salem, we drove the rest of the way to maine, checked into our hotel, then headed out to find some lobster and clam chowder.
monday morning was beautiful, and we had tickets for a whale watching trip out of boothbay harbor.
when i was pregnant with henry, marc and i took a vacation to maine and absolutely fell in love with the coast. it was so nice to be back among the quirky, sweet villages full of saltbox houses and fishing boats, and see a town we hadn't visited the last time. boothbay is charming and touristy and wonderful.
the whale watch boat ride was after lunch, so i told the kids to not eat anything too heavy or greasy. hindsight: i should have picked up some dramamine somewhere.
the boat trip started off great ... it was windy and cold on deck, but the view was beautiful.
once we got out of sight of the shore, though, the water became rougher, and the swells tossed the boat around more. harper wanted to give up on standing on deck and go below to sit down. for an hour, i watched her turn more and more green around the gills. another hour, and henry was below deck with us, also green. and below deck was where there was no fresh air, so the smell of boat fuel was stronger, which triggers marc's migraines, so he stayed above deck. to recap: two hours of bouncing and rolling with two kids who were on the verge of puking, while marc was up top. super fun family activity.
but then: whales!
it took longer than expected to find them - and we had to go about five miles farther out - but there were mama and baby finback. henry didn't want to get up, but harper was feeling a bit stronger, so we watched from the lower deck (just in case) while henry stayed in the warm, stuffy, smelly comfort of the table, sipping a ginger ale. luckily, he managed to see the whales through the window, so it wasn't a total lost cause for him.
the ride back was, thankfully, better. smoother, and tummies were more settled.
once on land, everyone started to feel better. ice cream cones made all the difference.
we spent a little more time exploring boothbay, finding the perfect souvenirs, having what was hands-down the best meal of our entire trip at the boathouse bistro ... a tapas bar, where marc discovered a blackened grilled shrimp with spicy honeydew gazpacho that he loved so much that he ordered two more.
the next day, tuesday, was all about lake winnipesaukee in new hampshire. i was really hoping to bump into bob wiley ... we could have gone sailing.
we didn't find bob. but we did sail. or ... boat. we boated. we're boaters.
marc's aunt and uncle's boat is on lake winnipesaukee, and luckily they were staying on the boat while we were in the area. it was such a fun day, and the kids had a blast.
and the lake ... oh, my ... such a beautiful place. water, trees, mountains ... just breathtaking.
the whole day was relaxing and wonderful.
after a perfect day, a yummy dinner, and a glorious night cruise, we headed back to the hotel.
the next day, we decided to detour through concord on our way back to boston. we took the kids to the concord museum to learn more about the town's role in the revolutionary war and the transcendentalist movement.
what else we learned? paul revere apparently looked like jack black.
(ralph waldo emerson's study)
(henry and his namesake, henry david thoreau)
after the concord museum, we took harper to the louisa may alcott museum. we've been reading "little women", so it was so fun to show her the house that inspired the story, and the rooms of the sisters who inspired jo and amy and beth and meg.
(i may have sneaked a photo of louisa's writing desk. bad girl, i know, but what can you do.)
we also walked past emerson's house ...
and then emerson's grandfather's house.
the grandfather who had a first-person view of the start of the revolutionary war.
the kids were troopers through this whole trip. we aren't exactly "let's go on vacation to relax" people; if there's something interesting to do or see or learn, that's where we go and that's what we do. i wanted the kids to experience where history and literature and philosophy happened, so that when they learn about it in school, it will feel more relatable and real to them. for the most part, they were curious and attentive about it all, and we had some great conversations.
it got too hot to keep wandering concord, though (we'll take them to sleepy hollow cemetery next time), so we drove back into boston, where we had a lovely hotel in cambridge and ate some yummy sushi ...
which henry said looked like "sushi dipped in crushed cheetos", and the next day we flew home.
such a whirlwind, but totally worth it. it was a perfect trip.
and then it was
july was pretty much all swimming, all the time.
there was, though, the one day when marc drove a lamborghini.
i had gotten him a slot at a driving day for christmas, and it was finally time to cash it in.
the car wasn't exactly roomy for a big guy, but he didn't care. he had the. best. time. three laps around an agility course. the only downside was that he couldn't go as fast as he would have liked.
but once that fun day was over ... all swimming. all the time. like, a meet every weekend plus two mid-week meets.
but the kids did awesome and ended the season with some major wins.
and one of the meets was an invitational, so the kids swam at the same time and were able to cheer each other on. which, of course, delighted harper.
harper ended the season with best times, and a great position for making it to the finals meet when fall season rolls around.
henry swam a full roster of events at the minnesota regional finals meet, but struggled with the heat during the three-day outdoor meet. he dropped some of his times, though, and was the 50m free champ with a state-cut time.
which meant the following week was four days of state - prelims in the morning, finals in the afternoon. he swam five relays and the 50 free ... he just missed the top eight in the 50, but he and his relay teams medaled in four of the five relays - an 8th, 7th, 4th, and a 1st place state champ finish.
kinda fun that he's now a state champ in relays two summers in a row :)
i know he was disappointed that he didn't do better individually, but he still has one more year - and two more state meets - in the 15-16 age group, so he's going to do awesome next time. he's so close.
concurrently with all the swimming, harper also attended three camps: one was a "girls in science" camp at the zoo, the second was to lean how to create fashions and fabrics using technology (for which a picture of the back of her was in the newspaper, and she was interviewed for the article, so she's convinced that now she's famous), and the third was to learn how to sew, at the end of which she and her other campmates gave a fashion show to debut the lovely dresses they made.
also during this time of swimming and camps (july was beyond insane), henry took driver's ed. i was doing really well not freaking out, then on the first day, henry got out of my car and there was one of his best friends ... the little boy who came up to henry on the first day of first grade, introduced himself, shook henry's hand, then said, "i think we should be friends" ... and off they went to drivers ed together. gah! heart!! tears!!
and now we have to sign him up for the behind the wheel stuff. and - as luck would have it - he has wheels.
back in may, marc took the man car in for some work and some mods. yadda yadda yadda ... he finally got his car back three days ago. so in the meantime, rather than throw money away with a rental, we went ahead and got a third car. cuz we were going to need one anyway for henry to drive.
so now we have a cute little safe, reliable suburu in the driveway.
also, in the middle of all the camps and swimming and drivers ed and car buying, we got to spend three days with my sister and her family. they were driving back to indiana from fargo, and we just happen to be on that route.
their first day here, we found their personal heaven:
i've never seen so much candy in my life.
(seriously ... chicken & waffles salt water taffy?! chicken & waffles seems like a bad idea in and of itself, but to make it into salt water taffy?? that's just irresponsible.)
we let the kids run off their sugar high in the sprinklers ...
(i don't know what this face is, but i totally recognize it.)
and also the park.
(seriously ... nora's faces ... )
and i got to be the aunt who introduces her niece and nephew to a hilarious video of a corgi twerking; a video they watched about 500 times. (go search for corgi bubble butt twerk on youtube. you're welcome.)
i won Aunt Of The Week with that one.
we also braved mall of america so wyatt could experience legoland ... a trek that about pushed my sister and i into claustrophobic, apoplectic wrecks from the sheer magnitude of humanity in the hallways.
but legoland was a hit, and then there was sushi.
then they had to go home. [sad face]
and ... what else ... oh: we got a king-size bed after nearly 19 years of marriage and cover-stealing (marc) and knee-and-elbow wars (also marc) ...
our garden is churning out monster zucchini ...
i had to have a spot on my face biopsied ...
and now it's august.
hoping for a month of breathing room before the summer is over and we re-enter the school-swimming-craziness routine. the kids head to indiana for some time with the grandparents later this month while marc and i go really crazy and ... clean out his office. should be awesome. and henry starts his first job on wednesday: teaching swimming lessons. i have a feeling our "breathing room" will be not so roomy, but we'll take it.
i was talking with a friend the other day, and she was lamenting not knowing where to start on redecorating her family room. she was hooked on a particular color, but didn't know where to go from there. i told her that could be a really frustrating way to go about it. she asked why. so i put on my "what if i was a designer" hat, and we had a chat.
i told her that for me, i always start with something i love and work out from there. a piece of furniture ... a fabric ... art ... those are way better things to work a room around than a specific color. colors can be so unforgiving, especially if you don't take into consideration undertones and how they change throughout the day.
(disclaimer: i DID create our entire front room around a color, because i had the room painted when we built, with no real plan in place beyond that. if you build it, he will come, right? it all turned out okay on that one ... i'll tell you about that some other time.)
anyway, after our conversation, i decided to create a room (just, you know, like you do.) for fun, to illustrate:
i started with the hypothetical floor plan of a den. my first stop for inspiration was a wonderful auction website: invaluable.com. i searched for furniture, art, collectibles, until the right thing popped out at me to get the ball rolling. it soon did, in the form of an awesome mid-century herman miller sofa and warner bros. animation prints.
from those two things, i knew the style direction - retro modern-ish, and the color palette - black, orange, green.
i could immediately envision a gallery collection of the warner bros. prints framed in black and arranged above the black sofa. but then what?
the room needed wallpaper:
cute, right? but i thought it might overwhelm the room if it was on all four walls, so the wallpaper, prints, and sofa would be on the back wall of the room, across from the windows. the other three walls would be a lovely benjamin moore color: nightfall. it's gray-black with a green undertone. because the accent colors for the room are green and orange, i have a feeling nightfall could be great if the room got either cooler north-facing light or warmer south-facing light coming in the windows. but, like i told my friend, painting samples on the walls and checking how they change throughout the day is the best way to go. i once painted a room a minty green - it was perfect with the bedding and other things in the room, but the lighting of the room totally killed the color. i didn't do a sample, and regretted it.
the next thing the room needed was additional seating, and i wanted something in a warmer tone, to play with the orange in the palette. these leather equestrian chairs would be lovely.
even though the room has four windows, it also needs light. and pendants with orange enameled shades hung from the ceiling and angled toward the sofa would be so very cool. of course, they would need a longer rod, but in pretend world that's no problem!
the room would need a little orange on the opposite wall to balance, so an orange ceramic garden stool as an accent surface is perfect. but a bigger side table would be needed between the two chairs, so this gold leaf and marble one is just lovely.
the marble tabletop - and white tabletops on the sofa - influenced the wet bar area of the room. the counter top would be a white quartz marble-like surface - simple and clean, which perfectly balances the amazingly gorgeous mosaic tile on the back wall of the wet bar nook.
i mean, hello, right? and there's your green and orange! serendipity! had i not found the sofa and art first, i might have planned something around this tile alone. a brass faucet, and this little area is done.
however, in the floor plan, there is a little nook next to the wet bar which is a perfect place for an antique cabinet, also found on invaluable, that will serve as storage for liquor and glasses and cocktail mixing stuff.
finishing touches to warm up the room are a natural fiber rug, a black table lamp, white roman shades accented with black trim, some simple accent pillows and a bright green throw, and a modern-yet-rustic coffee table. a few terrariums, some art books, etc., would finish the space.
and it would be groovy and fun.
in the end, my friend said she was going to spend some time figuring out what she wants in the room before finalizing the color. so far she has a really great pillow that is making her wheels turn ...
special thanks to invaluable.com, for having such a great selection of amazing stuff. inspiration for days!!
as we get closer to the mid-point of the year, i'm realizing that this has been a hard one on me. i'm exhausted. i feel beat down. depression that i've controlled and kept in its cage for a dozen years has tried desperately to escape and chase me down. i've let go of relationships that do nothing but hurt me, and have tried to be mindful to nurture the ones that build me up. i've also learned to become more vocal about my needs and concerns, and advocate for my own well-being and desires alongside everything i do for everyone else.
now that i am in my 40s and have one child who is getting ready to leave the nest in the next few years, it has started to sink in that i have no idea what is next. 20 years ago, i had it all planned out. super organized, hyper-focused, type-a ... i had a goal and by god i was going to get to it.
and then i didn't.
i can't tell you where i went off the rails, but somehow i started to put the needs of others ahead of my own - my husband's career and ambitions, my kids' schedules, etc. ... everything else seemed to need my attention more urgently than anything i wanted. and suddenly, it's 20 years later, my husband is a success, my kids are great, and i'm left looking at the rest of my life and wondering, "now what?"
it all came to a head a few weeks ago. marc and i were having our typical bi-annual "disagreement", and - bless his heart - he was trying his best to be a help and be supportive. but the problem was, he didn't know what needed to be helped or supported, so i heard his words as patronizing and clueless. which, of course, didn't help anything.
and i heard myself saying the words, "sometimes i just want out."
in all honesty: i don't. i don't want out. i love my husband, i love my kids, and i love my life. however, i am not IN any of it. i am stage crew, in the black shirt, invisible in the dark yet maneuvering all of the ropes and props that makes those on stage look flawless. and i sit there in the darkness, going through the checklist of all the things i do well, and think, "what the hell?? why am i doing nothing with the talents i've been given? i'm in my 40s and have nothing to show for it."
yes, i have a lovely family and a lovely home and i can make a kick-ass pot roast. and if that was all i'd wanted for my life, then that would have been great. but it isn't. i wanted more.
somehow, my subconscious figured it out before i did, and in the middle of sobbing, i confessed to marc, "this isn't who i was supposed to be."
turns out, it's not that i want "out" of my life ... i want "in".
i'm not a 1950s housewife. i never relished the idea of being a stay-home mom, whose day revolved around my children. deep down, i know i am capable of more, and have just never done it out of fear that putting myself first would look bad. or that i might be good at something and would then have to sustain that. my life hasn't been full of successes or praise, so i think i'm genuinely confused by it and scared of it when it happens. so i don't let it happen very often, and don't offer up my best for fear that it will raise expectations that i am bound to dash. and then i'll be right back where i started, only more disappointed.
there are times when i wish i could start over, make different choices, follow a different path. but i can't. instead, i need to find inspiration in fearless women like julia child, who was nearly 40 when she said, "you know what? i'm gonna go to cooking school."
there is a lot of maneuvering that would need to take place in my life in order for me to pursue anything - marc still travels, we still have no family nearby to help out with the kids, henry doesn't yet drive, there is still school and transportation and swimming and meals, et cetera, to work around. and much of that is why i haven't done anything for or with myself. i don't want the kids to get the short end of the stick when there are so few years left with them. i know many families in which both parents work and yet they manage to coordinate the kids' schedules. however, in most cases, either they have family nearby, and/or they are both home in time for activities. if marc is in dallas or san diego or boston, he can't by home by 5:00 to be part of the swimming/meal/homework/bedtime conveyor belt.
which is the wall i beat my head against every time. there are hours in my day when i could do something, but i haven't figured out what to do when that "something" butts up against all of the roadblocks in my way. and in his desire to help, marc suggests, "i'm sure there is something you could do for a few hours a day, something that would reconnect you with adults." but it has nothing to do with being with adults; i don't need to be with adults. truthfully, i don't need to be with people. and i don't want a job for "something to do"; i want something to do with my life. that's different than part-time at starbucks.
or maybe i just learn to let go of the frustration and discontentment, and make peace with the fact that in this lifetime, i didn't get to be what i thought i might be. i'll get to my late 40s and find a hobby instead of a career. play the cards in my hand instead of reshuffling. but then i wind up at the end of my life wondering why i didn't do more with it when i had the chance.
i know where my passions lie, the trick is figuring out what to do with them, and how to get over the hurdle that i have placed in front of myself, the one that says, "if you don't do it the right way then you are a fake, a poseur." i've been so convinced my entire life that action requires education and preparation, but maybe that isn't the case? i read this post today and it screamed at me in the way that only a serendipitous message from the universe can.
i just need to do. where i am, with what a i have.
if it's meant to be, a way will show itself, right?
the inertia needs to be replaced by excitement and possibility, and that will all start when i stop being afraid to say, "this is what i want and this is what i need."
i'm an adult; i've earned the right to stand up for myself and make the rest of my life what i want it to be. and i need to take ownership over the skills i have, work hard to teach myself what i need to know better, and put myself out there. because the universe may speak to me, but if i keep it to myself, then i have only myself to blame.
harper is in her last full week of fourth grade, which means she is thisclose to leaving "little girl" behind and jumping into "'tweenhood." right on cue, she's asking for a more grown-up room.
the daybed that she's had since she was three ... the bed that has been her comfort zone, the one she refused to give up after we moved ... is now "too small", and she's ready to update everything. no more pink. no more toys. (except for littlest pet shop ... those aren't going anywhere.) no more "girly" room. she is now old enough to have an opinion, and she's confidently putting that opinion out there to make it happen.
we were talking about colors the other day, and she really wants gray and dark blue and aqua and yellow. i can totally get behind those. then we were flipping through some catalogs and scrolling through pinterest and came across a few things that she's put on her "THIS! THIS! THIS!" list.
i love it as much as she does - i've actually had it pinned for more than a year - and love that i can get a removable version from amazon. might be a good way to have the look without anything being semi-permanent and twice as expensive. we like the above idea: a chair rail and deeper wall color below the trees. i also like the idea of doing the paper on one wall, and color on the other three ... i'm finding myself inspired by this room right now:
a third thought: wallpaper on the lower portion of the wall, and add a shelf for art above her bed.
we already have some great prints in her room of wolves and foxes and peacocks, so this might be a fun option. it would also work great with ...
her second request: robert allen folkland fabric in aquatint. we saw this fabric on a headboard in the land of nod catalog, and harp loved it. the colors are right, and the animals are adorable (and she is SO the animal girl).
the fabric immediately reaffirmed her color palette:
i have an old desk that i'm in the process of stripping and refinishing for her room, and now that we have a direction, we're trying to figure out what color to paint it. i'm pulling for the yellow, she's leaning toward the darker blue.
we'll keep her white ikea dresser and likely the bookshelves, so the other big pieces are set. since she's ready to move up to a bigger bed, bedding will also need to be purchased.
the big question is whether to get the headboard in the fabric she likes, or get a chair in folkland for her desk instead, and have some pillows made with the fabric, and make or buy a different headboard. that way she isn't tied to the animal fabric when she's older.
we're obviously still mulling.
but now we have a good direction to go in, and i have a feeling this will be the summer of the bedroom ... marc and i just ordered a new bed (after nearly 19 years, we will finally have a king-size bed. no more getting jabbed by his elbows and feet in the middle of the night!), we'll be doing a big shuffle of guest room stuff once that bed comes, and we might as well put harp's room on the list, too. (i asked henry if he wants to do anything different with his room while we're at it. he answered, "why?" ... such a boy.)
as far as summer projects go, i can get behind these ideas one-hundred percent.
so, you know that thing where people buy a standard-issue ikea item, then they take it home and go all "outside of the box" on it? and hack it into something amazing?
i did that. but with trader joe's.
my friend tj has these simple little soup bowl mixes. kind of like ramen, but with less msg and shorter noodles.
i saw these and my brain instantly had this soup idea. so i bought six, along with some other ingredients, and set about making actual soup out of instant soup.
verdict? uh-mazing. and even better on day two, which almost NEVER happens with a noodle soup.
so, here's what you need:
trader joe's hacked spring onion soup
- 4 pkg spring onion soup bowls (i used six and we had enough leftover for probably 2-3 more servings. so four packages would probably feed four people sufficiently. but keep in mind: better on day two!)
- 4 baby bok choy - trimmed and chopped into smaller pieces
- about a pound of snow peas, sliced into smaller pieces
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 pint of small button mushrooms, sliced
- 3-4 chicken breasts
- 1.5 tb tamari (or soy sauce. or aminos. whatever you prefer.)
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp garlic
(i used dried garlic and ginger, but next time will use the fresh stuff.)
1. the soup packages require about 2 c water each, so get 8 cups of water - along with the spice and oil packets from the packages - boiling in a pot.
2. cut up the chicken into small pieces and cook in a hot wok or pot with some olive oil until done. set aside.
3. in the chicken pot, saute the diced up onion for a few minutes in another tablespoon or so of olive oil. (if using fresh garlic and ginger, i would add these to the pan at this time, too.) once the onions start to soften, add the rest of the veggies. saute until tender, then add the chicken back to the pan. then add the tamari. (if using dried garlic and ginger, mix it into the tamari before adding it to the pan)
4. while the veggies are cooking, add the rice noodles to the boiling, seasoned water. cook for 3-4 mins, until the noodles are ready.
5. add the veggies and chicken to the noodle pot, and let it all warm up and mingle for a few minutes. then serve.
the tamari, garlic, and ginger can be adjusted according to taste. also, the soup packages come with these little hot oil packets ... i used half, because harper is not a fan of the hot oil thing. marc and henry each added another packet to their own bowls. we also put sriracha in our bowls, but harp did not.