House of Insanity – Part the 2nd

Part 1 here.

The day before my husband got home from his two-week business trip, I called in the troops. I am often terrible at asking for help, but I knew that I needed it. Those two weeks had tested me in ways that I wasn’t exactly prepared for. It was even busier than I had planned on (the dummy that I am) and I just couldn’t do it on my own. Luckily, my volunteers kicked serious ass. But my mental health? Well…it really took a beating. It felt like I had been in a constant state of stress since February. Work was stressful. Moving is effing stressful. Solo-parenting is stressful. I honestly felt like it would never end.

Picking up The Dude from the airport made a world of difference. Because, damn, he’s my person. Sure he may aggravate me at times, but we really are a great team. And he just…does stuff while I’m trying to do stuff, too. And things get done! Of course, there wasn’t any time for “Hello! Welcome Home!” because we immediately had to keep going on the move. We really had packed a ton before he left and me and my volunteers had rocked it, but the last minute crap totally adds up. Nevermind the fact that we still had to get the new house move-in ready. Oh. Also a softball tournament. Because of course.

The next morning, we had a bit of a juggling act to deal with in our “regular” life and with the new house. Somehow, we had to get Beezus to her softball tournament (and catch as much of it as we could) and also deal with a scheduling issue with the new house craziness. The carpet guys had finished right on time the day before, but the painters still needed more time. The housecleaners were already scheduled, and we couldn’t push them back. It was a very odd balancing act of staying out of everyone’s way…but could you please hurry up because wet paint is a nightmare when you want things to be cleaned. And I don’t know if you remember, but the house was a ridiculous, filthy mess. Grime and dirt and yuck in pretty much every room in the house. (Degreaser used on the showers. I can’t shut up about that.)

But the paint colors. Holy crap, the paint colors were AMAZING. I was absolutely in love with the colors we had chosen. (Sorry for all the iPhone picture. Wait. Not I’m not.)

2 bath
downstairs bathroom. may or may not be Tiffany’s blue inspired. maybe.

Like, wanted to marry every paint color we had picked because it was just too amazing for words.

2 stairs

They were soothing and calm and soothing and calm. The complete antithesis of the colors they replaced.

2 kitchen
white walls instead of gross, puke yellow. and someday those cabinets will be white. someday.

I hate to admit it, but it wasn’t until the after the painters and the cleaners had left that I finally felt like this could be our home. I spend a lot of random minutes worrying that I was never going to love this house. I mean, there was excitement because I was able to find the silver lining most of the times, but there were plenty of times that I agonized over our decision.

Except for the paint colors. Hot damn, did I mention I loved the paint colors?

I will forever be grateful for the painters that made ugly walls go far, far away.
I will forever be grateful for the painters that made ugly walls go far, far away.

Somehow we survived the final weekend of getting ready, and all of a sudden the movers arrived to pack up all our crap bright and early Monday morning. As luck would have it, I had to be at work for part of the day. Luckily, The Dude and our amazing people who put up with us were there to make it all happen. And I don’t care how organized we thought we were, moving day NEVER EVER SEEMS TO END. It just doesn’t. And it sucks. It’s like that last trimester of pregnancy where you just resigned yourself to looking like a beached whale for the rest of your life because that baby was probably not ever coming out. It’s the feeling of despair.

But no, the move actually does happen. And you’re furniture and your things (that are in boxes piled everywhere) is sitting there. It finally feels real and like you kinda sorta belong there because LOOK! That is your couch. And more importantly, THERE IS YOUR BED. (And speaking of which, one of the best pieces of advice from my mom: make sure your bed is ready before you do anything else. A soft place to land after a reeeeaaaaallly long day of moving is the most magical feeling in the world. I had even washed all the bedding, just before packing it, so that it could be taken care of ASAP.) (Magical. It was magical.)

Since moving in a little more than a month ago, we’ve gotten most things unpacked…even the garage is pretty gosh-darn organized. I still don’t have pictures on the walls, but that is mostly because I can’t commit to what I want. I may need to switch out some frames and make different choices. Mainly because we have more walls to fill, but also because I’m still getting to know the flow of the house. That might sound hokey, but the house and I are still getting to know one another. I love it. I really, really love it, but I feel like I need to know the house a little better before we put holes in the walls.

There is still so much to do. It’s almost overwhelming if I think about it too much. Thank goodness the structure of the house is sound, but the cosmetics of it were and are a mess. My dad and my brother (and the gardeners) helped us (okay, helped The Dude) start cleaning the yard. Clearing out SO MUCH OVERGROWTH.

2 yuck
this is only one load that went to the dump. soooo many more just like this.

They were also able to tame all of the fruit trees and grape vines that were seriously out of control. And, most important to Jill, cut back any tree branches that were touching the house. Because NO MICE PLEASE IN MY HOUSE. (OMG, I almost can’t even talk about it.) We also had to get the pest company out to our house immediately because…well, there were so many bugs with all the fruit trees and overgrowth. Plus, strange water bugs that weren’t actually in the water? Just hanging around the yard? I don’t even know. But wow with the bugs.

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The pool has also been a HUGE challenge. We immediately hired a pool service, but it has taken a lot of hard work to get that pool looking awesome. The pool took a beating, really. And I’m super excited that we’re finally getting to a point where it’s not so crazy. (And can we talk about how we put up some lights in the yard and around the pool  for Beezus’ birthday and holy crap, it makes me happy?)

2 grapes
grape vines and twinkle lights

My house isn’t decorated by any stretch of the imagination. I have a couple things done here and there, but since we’ve focused so much time on the “fires” that need to be put out, there hasn’t been a whole lot of time to work on the pretty. And honestly? I’m just excited that we’ve gotten as far as we have in such a short amount of time. We couldn’t have done it without amazing family and friends. And I seriously couldn’t have done any of this without The Dude. That guy makes shit happen.

There are moments when I chuckle to myself at everything that we seemed to “ignore” when we made our offer on this house. It is honestly how I know that it was meant to be. We were blessed with the gift of temporary-house-view-blindness. Or rose-colored glasses. Whatever it was, I’m amazed that we looked past the yuck. But I’m more amazed at how perfect this house is for us. And I didn’t even know it at first. This house is nothing like what we thought we needed to buy. We never set out for any of this. But those unanswered prayers you hear about? Yeah. That’s this house. It it this amazing space that has room for all my loved ones. (I haven’t tried to fit all my loved ones in the house at one time, but CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.) I can share these blessings with all of them. My family fits. (MY FAMILY FITS, YOU GUYS.) And it just makes me so happy to have them all there. And going through all the stress and gross and craziness and gross…well, I think it just makes it that much more worth it.

new house

harmony -vs- balance…and why harmony is the winner

be who you are

Can we just get rid of the word balance? I know I’ve spent too many years trying to find balance. The internet is excellent at making us believe that we can, so we do. The internet is also good at making us feel like shit when we can’t actually find that balance we worked so hard to find. It’s so easy! Put down your phone…get off the internet…say no more…make your own cheese! So much information constantly being thrown at us, proving that we’re doing it all wrong.

I’m pretty sick of it.

The idea of balance is so enticing. The notion that we can have it all and that we can look fit and fashionable while doing it. But it’s a pile of crap that is disguised as kale and elaborate playdates and bikini-ready bodies. It’s the instruction that if we JUST! TRY! HARDER! it will all fall into place. Our life, I mean. We’ll be the shining examples of doing it right and having it all! So we can then, of course, post it on Facebook or Pinterest the hell out of it.

No really, I’m pretty sick of it.

Would it be so bad if we all just admitted how hard life is?

The reality of balance is this: if you are putting your focus on one specific thing, you are not putting your focus on every other thing. It is impossible to focus on all the things at all the time. And I don’t believe you if you say that you spend equal amounts of time on all the things. I call bullshit. And I call it OUT LOUD.

In my efforts to find the ever elusive balance, I have somehow created a war. Mostly with myself, but a war has broken out. I’m angry when I can’t be fair with my time. I’m frustrated when I can’t get it all done. I’m furious when my plans are fall apart. I feel shamed when I fail at everything. Because didn’t the internet tell me I could have it all? Am I terrible? What is wrong with me? Where is all the balance?

Have I mentioned I’m sick of it?

I’ve become so frustrated with all that I have to do and all that I have to focus on, I’ve become bitter and resentful. I’m just so mad at myself that I can’t keep it together.

And then I read a book (a completely un-related, a little bit dumb book) that talked about harmony. It wasn’t anything earth-shattering. It was just talking about the Native American views on harmony and it was almost like I was smacked upside the head with this book. (I do realize that the link mentions harmony AND balance. But I’m pretty sure the Native American version of balance isn’t creating a Pinterest worthy DIY project while doing a million hours of planking at the same time. Maybe.) It’s not balance that I’m missing. It’s developing a harmonious place where all the areas of my life can coexist. Although, I kinda want to punch myself in the face after writing a sentence like that. (I’m so sorry.)

harmony

My point of all this rambling is that I’ve created this completely un-balanced environment while I search for the thing that will make or help me live a balanced life. What I’ve done is cause all the areas of my life to be at war with one another because I can’t seem to remember that I’m only one person. And that maybe if I sought out harmony instead of balance, I might actually get somewhere. Because, can’t we all get just along? If I can figure out a way to not be angry or frustrated at all the parts of my life that are demanding my attention, I might be able to see that all parts can work together and more can actually get done. Okay, probably not…but I’ll be able to remember that each part of my life needs my attention at different times. And I hope that I can stop feeling bad about everything I’m NOT doing when I’m in a car for long periods of time…or at work far more than I want to be…or folding laundry for hours on end. Finding harmony and giving a space for everyone and everything to play a little nicer sounds a lot better than feeling constantly guilty for never obtaining a balanced life. You know, the one that doesn’t actually exist.

I’ll probably never be able to fully give up my quest for balance. Pinterest ruins you like that. But at least I can try put my focus on a lot more harmony, and the fact that I’m only one person, and a lot less on the ab workouts and the latest quinoa recipe.

I wasn’t going to do that ab workout anyway.

photo credits here and here

House of Insanity – Part 1

photo courtesy of metrolist
I’m not sure…but it’s a lot of orange. (Also, not my furniture…)

When we decided to put an offer on the house, we knew we would have some work to do. Every homeowner is…different. They probably loved their (horrible) orange and green and yellow colored (and sometimes sponge painted) walls. And, honestly, it sounds like it wasn’t an easy time for them, so maybe the general care of the house and backyard was just too much for them.

OVERGROWNBACKYARD
a never been pruned or trimmed backyard

So we knew that for us to feel comfortable, we needed to factor in the various “home improvements” into our costs and into our offer. Looking back, I’m actually pretty surprised that we were able to look past all that we did. This was our fourth house that we had put an offer, so ignoring the ugly was meant to be. I’m just still not sure how we did it.

SPONGEPAINTEDGREENBATHROOM
sponge. painted. walls.

On the day that we got the keys, The Dude had already been gone for a week on his two-week business trip. (Yes, let that sink in for a minute. A super stressful time and I was flying solo? Yeah. I’m really not sure how I stayed as sane as I did.) So with my parents and family along for the ride, we walked into this new house that had just become ours. The painters and the carpet guys had already been scheduled for that next week, but we were excited to just be able to see the house. Except…as soon as I walked in, I felt more overwhelmed than excitement. I actually started to feel sick to my stomach and dangerously close to tears.

MASTERBROFHELL
all photos courtesy of metrolist

The house smelled…funny. The pool hadn’t been taken care of since we had gone into contract and it was a GLOWING GREEN mess. Somehow I hadn’t focused on the yard the few times I had been to visit. But now, all the fruit trees and grapevines and various other NEVER BEFORE TAKEN CARE OF plants were staring me in the face. And, well…fruit trees attract critters. Critters that scattered throughout the trees when the sun goes down. And now my stomach turned as I worried about mice in my (new) (but dirty/gross) house. I was so quiet as I surveyed everything that needed to be done. I had never before hired housekeepers…but now I was more grateful than ever that we had already made that call. I knew that if it had been me to do all the cleaning, the image of all the filth would’ve stuck in my brain as I tried to cook dinner or take a shower in a bathroom that was less than desirable. And by “less than desirable” I mean a shower that needed a degreaser (that’s de-GREASER) to get the grime off. Yowsa.

I honestly don’t know how I didn’t have a panic attack right there in front of everyone. I guess scary quiet Jill was close enough. My mom could see the look on my face and I’m pretty sure she is what kept me sane. I did not lost my shit right then and there even though it was a very, very close call.

The next week was a blur of meetings with painters and carpet guys and regular insane life stuffs. I was lucky that we had decided on the carpet before The Dude had left on his trip, but the paint colors were up to me. Thankfully, I had a general idea what I wanted and a Sarah who talked me off of every paint-color-ledge there was. She also stopped by the new house to be there when I needed to meet with the owner of the pain company. He was an absolute ass and I’m pretty sure if she hadn’t been there, I would’ve lost my shit. Another close call.

Moving and packing is hard enough. But since I was without my partner in crime, I had a lot to deal with all on my own. From wiring the remainder our down payment and closing costs to picking out paint colors. Getting the keys, and making arrangements for the carpet guys. Softball practices, etc for Beezus? A conference out of town? 4+ All Star games for Ramona? Just part of the deal. And it was a mess. An exhausting, messy mess of all messes. In a state of absolute panic, I called on the people who kept asking me how they could help. And I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without them.

This move was happening fast and I was about to get knocked over by the stress of it.

…to be continued…

all the roads we had to walk are winding

The thing about having your oldest child start her junior year of high school AND turn sixteen in the same week is that it makes you a bit nutty. Or raving effing lunatic. Whatever. You’re a nut job that is sad and happy and certifiably crazy. You just never know what Jill you’re gonna get.

But here’s the thing: I’ve woken up a lot of feelings and emotions this year. A lot of it surfaced when I wrote my LTYM piece. And then it continued to surface as I faced things that I didn’t know I needed to face. Maybe even forgive people that I didn’t know I needed to forgive. Maybe people that thought that teenage mom me shouldn’t, perhaps, keep a certain pregnancy…or maybe that I shouldn’t keep the baby. That I should give her up for adoption. And even more people that thought I shouldn’t get married.

I always thought that I wasn’t mad. But maybe I was a little. Maybe a little bit more than a little.

There were times that I worried that I was going to ruin that sweet baby’s life. We were too young…we weren’t ready. We had a lot to learn about being married and being parents all at the same time. We were ridiculously poor sometimes. We sacrificed a lot. We couldn’t give her and her sister everything we wanted to. I still have guilt and regret over the times when I have failed miserably. I worried that all those people were right. The ones that doubted us the most.

But I think now is the time that I let that anger start to go away. The anger at myself. At the other people. Because the best part of proving everyone wrong? It’s her. It is all her.

prom2
photo: sarah maren photography

I’d gloat about being right, but I don’t even know how. Because I’m just still in awe that I get to be her mom. Even after sixteen years, I can’t believe she’s mine. She is magical. She is a blessing. And she is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. And I would go through every bit of sacrifice and hard time if it meant that I could still be her mom. Every single bit.

p&me
us…last year’s birthday party

I know I need to learn to let go. I need to learn how to let her grow up and be the amazing person that she is. But I can’t yet. I want to be selfish for just a little while longer.

promkid
photo: sarah maren photography

Because with a kid like this? It’s hard not to.

I’m just hoping you’ll put up with me

I keep forgetting to tell you about all this free time I (apparently) should be getting. Or at least that’s the opinion of someone I know. So I wrote about it.

We all make choices in life. And, well…I guess I choose to be busy. I could say no more. I don’t have to spend quite so much time with my family. Sure, I might be able to cut down the amount of time I spend driving in the car if my kids didn’t play so many sports. I guess I don’t have to go to EVERY game.

But I choose to do all these things.

My “me time” is usually spent with the people that mean the most to me.

I also need to write an update on our Summer Challenge. And while we haven’t been perfect at it, we’ve also had some successes at just being better about eating at home. Sometimes it means thinking outside the box. And sometimes it’s all about NOT TAKING THE EASY WAY OUT. One of the best parts of the challenge is coming up with things to make that I wouldn’t have ever thought of before. And realizing that I’m a better cook than I give myself credit.

Ramona is getting better and better at sixth grade. And so are her parents. We went to Back to School Night yesterday and feel even better about all the awesome at her new school. She has amazing teachers, the school offers so much to her education…and it’s just feeling so much better than before. She even has someone to sit with at lunch sometimes. Which makes my mommy heart feel a little better.

Beezus starts her junior year tomorrow. I’ve taken to Facebook to apologize for being THAT mom. The mom that is a complete b00b about her kids growing up and OMG could I please knock that off? But, yeah…a junior in high school. Happening tomorrow. This is weird, you guys.

FBphoto

And if starting her junior year wasn’t enough to ruin me, she also turns 16 this weekend. So, you know, I’ll be getting ready for the big event…and sobbing quietly in a corner.

But because I can’t leave you with the sound of me crying (thank goodness this blog doesn’t have sound) there has to be something fun. Back a million years ago…before blogs were really even a thing, Sarah used to post her current song on repeat. And this isn’t a hip, new song that everyone should know about…it’s the amazing George Harrison. And the song and I just got reacquainted. And it’s on repeat. My only explanation is that it makes me happy and I love singing along at the top of my voice. (Again, we’re grateful that there’s no sound here.)

Thanks for the happy, George.

updates and school supplies and saying goodbye to summer

summer2

It’s the fourth day of school and I guess I’m just glad Ramona doesn’t hate it.

I feel bad for her. She’s met a couple of friendly kids, but it’s still so new. It’s not like they’re super close best friends. She eats lunch alone because she doesn’t know anyone well enough yet. You want to break a mama’s heart? Tell her that her kid eats lunch alone. And then top it off with listening to this kid tell the story of how nervous she is as she walks into each class wondering if she’s always in the wrong class. (So far, she’s been in the right class.) (Thankfully.)

My brain knows that it’s going to be fine. She’s going to make friends. She’s going to have wonderful experiences. Switching classes won’t always be so nerve-wracking.  She is going to be great. I know this. But my heart hurts because she’s lonely and she’s scared and it’s so far outside her comfort zone.

And, hey…since my heart is already living outside of my body, when is it going to get easier to say that Beezus is going to be a junior in high school when she goes back on Thursday? JUNIOR. Because, each time I say it, I almost don’t believe my own words. It just sounds…weird. And not possible. And weird. (This may also be compounded by the fact that her sixteenth birthday is this week. Probably.)

This school year is already killing me a little. And one of my kids isn’t even back to school yet.

I need to stop trying to hold on to summer so hard. I need to jump into this school year with a better attitude and not be so resistant to change. But I really don’t want to. I don’t. I’m not ready for the rigid schedules and practice times…and holy crap I hate homework. I just really, really do.

But I know that my kids need me to be all in. Because even if I don’t verbalize to them how much I hate this, I know they can feel it. I KNOW it. And that’s not fair. Because even if I wish I could just hold on to them and hold on to summer just a little bit longer, they have to be ready for all that the new school year throws at them. And my moping about it isn’t going to do any of us a bit of good.

I may have to resort to buying my own school supplies. I love a new notebook to fill and the perfect pen to go with it. And it just might be the thing to pull me out of summer and into this current space of being a mom to a sixth grader and a (sigh) junior in high school. It’s time for me to be excited for what’s in store for both of them. And for me. For all of us.

If I’m too busy holding on to summer, I’m going to miss everything that’s happening right now.

We still have a few more days until Beezus heads back to school and we’re also getting ready as we celebrate her sixteenth birthday. There are a couple of Campfire Wednesdays to look forward to and a few other family gatherings to enjoy. So I’ve kinda given myself this week to phase out of my summer mindset. But I’ve also reminded myself that Ramona needs more structure and more focus to make sure that the start of the school year isn’t any harder than it already is.

A little balance? Yeah…I guess that’s what we’re looking for. Or really, a slightly more balanced wibble-wobble.

If there even is such a thing.

what motherhood does to your commute

I cried for more than half my commute today.

This is one of those things that you really (probably) shouldn’t admit to the internet, but there you have it. I did a lot of crying on the way to work today after I dropped Ramona off at her first day of middle school. And, by some crazy luck, I didn’t destroy all of my makeup that I had already applied. Apparently, I’m an excellent car crier. However, if you saw me crying on the freeway, please don’t tell me what that looked like. I for reals don’t want to know.

Every now and again, as it is well documented here, I have trouble with my kids getting older. I’m a big ‘ol baby about all of it and I cry just talking about it. In my defense, I spent many years being completely immune to the milestones, so I’m making up for lost time. Or I’m really just in a panic now that it’s close to sending one of my kids off to college. Or maybe I’m just the b00biest of b00bs and I cry a lot.

(I also keep typing “cry” as “cray” and I find that this blog post is trying to tell me something.)

(Also…duh.)

I had a feeling that today would be hard for me. I’m not ready to let go of summer and I’m certainly not ready for my “baby” to be this old sixth grader person in middle school. And I also had so many worries about this kid starting a brand new school in our brand new area where she doesn’t know anyone her age. She was so nervous. I, of course, don’t blame her one bit. And my heart broke about a 2,264 times when I thought about her and all her worries and fears and weird school dreams.

I’m glad that we did all that we could last night to make this morning run smoothly. She knew what she was going to wear. We went over the map of her classes and where she would need to go. We made lunches. We got the backpack all set up. We told her over and over how awesome she was. And reminded her again and again how much we love her.

firstdayofsixthgrade
Hurry up and take the picture, mom.

And honestly? She did great this morning. She was nervous and couldn’t eat her breakfast, but she had a great attitude and a smile on her face. We parked about a block away so that we could all walk her up, and she kept grabbing my hand over and over until we got closer to the school buildings. I worried that she would feel embarrassed holding my hand, but she didn’t. And when we got closer to the school, I just let my hand rest on her back so that she didn’t have to worry about pulling her hand away or making me feel bad. She walked into her “homeroom” class and the three of us walked away.

So…yeah. I cried while I drove to work. And then I scolded myself because driving while crying is not the safest way to travel. I thought about how blessed I am and how grateful I am for these amazing kids that I have. And I tried to focus on all the gratitude as I turned on the radio to try to distract myself. I was flipping through the different channels when I heard a Steve Miller Band song that I used to sing (the chorus) to her because it’s one of the nicknames I call her. It’s not a song that gets played very often, so I kinda chuckled to myself. The song after that is one she really liked when it came out. So I smiled.

But then in an unexplainable coincidence (or maybe and probably not) on the same radio station, Joan Jett started playing. Blame Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, but I will never (EVER) forget how much my kid loved “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and how she would sing it at the top of her lungs. And as the song played while I was driving on the freeway, I pictured six-year-old Ramona singing her guts out as she battled it out on Guitar Hero. So it will surprise no one that the crying resumed at that time. In a very ugly fashion, I’m sure.

Everyone is quick to tell you how hard it is to be a mom and how fast time flies by. But it’s amazing how none of us really listen. We always roll our eyes and say “yeah, yeah…I know” as we clean up after the kid that just dumped cereal on her head. We ignore the warning as we drive all over God’s green earth taking each kid to their various sports practices. And then all of a sudden, you drop your kid off at her first day of sixth grade and a Joan Jett song has completely ruined you AND your makeup.

It is both wonderful and awful all at the same time. And, my goodness, is it hard.

You are not going to believe me, but I swear to you that the universe, God, and the radio station wanted to make this story a good one. Or they just wanted to see me cry a lot this morning. It’s probably the crying, but as I finally start to laugh at myself, and turn onto the street where my office is, Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” started to play. I shit you not.

I laughed just as much as I cried.

And then vowed to start listening to a new radio station starting tomorrow.

our summer

I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. The busy season at work. The all things moving and unpacking and settling in to the new house. We have a little break in most sports-related things.

But unfortunately, this also brings the ending of summer and lazy evenings and no homework. It’s time for us to go back to school shopping and figuring out new schedules and routines, especially in the new area. We have a new school to figure out…nerves are out in full force. We need to reevaluate our routes to work and to the school that didn’t change. There is drop-off and pick-up to worry about and fret about.

I mean…and then there’s just the regular life that keeps going on and on.

This isn’t new. This happens every year. I get very overwhelmed and anxious as we head into fall and a new school year. I feel regret for all the time I’m not able to spend with my kids because of the busy time at work. I worry about the upcoming school year…getting used to new teachers, expectations and schedules. Plus, there’s just so much to DO. It’s pretty much impossible to get everything done. But before I get lost in a sea of “what-ifs” and wishing some things could’ve been different, I want to remind myself of all the things that meant so much to me. I want to document the summer memories and traditions we started and loved, even when everything else was catawampus.

house4

The Move

Moving is hard. It’s hard to move away from a neighborhood and people you love and adore. It’s only 20 miles away, but it seems so far sometimes. And packing, and unpacking. And I haven’t even wrote about all that needed to be done to the house before we could move in. All the work we still have to do to clean up all the different messes the previous owner had made. But you guys? I love our new home. It is everything that I never thought I would ever have. My kids love it. The Dude and I love it. Paisley even loves it. (I can tell. I think.) I have this great space for the people that I love. We’ve already hosted several family events and get-togethers. I can’t help it…I absolutely love it. Which is good. Because that first mortgage payment is probably coming out of my account as I type this.

house3

Get-Togethers

One of the best parts of this summer is how much time we’ve spent with family. My sister was in town during the week we moved in to the new house. We had family visit from Mexico. It feels like we haven’t stopped with events and what-not, but it’s been amazing. Exhausting, but amazing.

alt

New Blogging Adventures

After all these years of quietly blogging and writing, I had never ventured to any sort of blogging conference. But this year, I actually went to two. I need to sit down and actually write about them, but for now I’ll just tell you that I’m so glad that I went to each of these conferences. Both events fell at the worst times to be heading to the Bay Area, but it all worked out.
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I also had the chance to work with and meet up with the lovely people from SodaPop PR and Tillamook and also attend the Sunset Magazine Celebration weekend. I had a blast meeting and getting to know so many wonderful people. These people are so wonderful.

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Sports

Both of my kids had great softball seasons this year. Ramona had a wonderful regular season and then had a great run on the All-Star team. She did so great!! Beezus has done great with her high school team, and had a dang good season with her travel team. It was a lot of fun to watch both girls push themselves and to improve and grow. We honestly had a blast. And having wonderful parents on both teams was a HUGE bonus.
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Trip to UCLA

Back in June, we made a whirlwind of a trip to cheer on our dear, close family friend as she graduated (with honors, I might add) from UCLA. We had such a great time celebrating her accomplishments. So proud of her! I’ve been celebrating her accomplishments since she graduated preschool, and I have loved being there for all these big milestones! And, I’ll be honest, I was surprised at how beautiful the UCLA campus is. It’s STUNNING. So glad we were able to tour the campus and see the sights.

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Giants Game

Yes I realize they’re dead last right now and they kinda suck. But damn, we had good seats and had an absolute blast.

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Campfire Wednesdays

Here’s the thing: Campfire Wednesday saved my summer. From my parents’ backyard, I felt like we experienced summer even when the deadlines were looming, the move was happening, and the stress was ridiculous.

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I love my family. I love hanging out with my family. And creating this summer tradition was everything I needed to feel like we actually did have some fun this summer. I hope to enjoy a few more before we have to put away the marshmallow roaster sticks. Because I love everything about it and I’m not ready for it to end.

I’m having a hard time knowing that this time next week, Ramona will officially be back in school and that our summer will be on notice. Beezus heads back to school the week after that, so I feel like we have so much to accomplish in the next few days. And by accomplish, I mean have all the fun possible. Be lazy. Swim more. Eat more s’mores and ice cream. We really have so much to do!

And I kinda can’t wait.

Stress is Dumb. My Dog is Cute.

I currently feel like I’m doing everything wrong, juggling too much and am more stressed than I’d like to admit. But you know what makes it all better? Spending time with my people. And my dog.

And sometimes you have to post pictures of the time you made that dog get in the pool against her will because you just need to be sure she can swim and know where the steps are in the pool so she doesn’t drown! She is going to be really pissed about it.

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Paisley is not amused

But then eventually she will forgive you because you let get out of the pool. Even though you will make her stay outside for a bit because wet dog in the house is not okay. But then suddenly, she will air-dry and look like a Muppet.

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No really. She looks like Rowlf.

And no, pictures of my Muppet Dog don’t exactly count as an actual blog post. Except for the fact that maybe they do. Because it’s better than me talking about my FEELINGS. And also STRESS. And also, feelings and stress.

See…pictures of my Muppet Dog sound way better than all that.

It’s still a gosh-darn crazy busy time in my world. But someday I’d really like to tell you more about my new house. And update you on our Summer Challenge that is mostly just something I feel guilty about all the time. (Okay, we haven’t been THAT bad. But still.)

Anyway, my dog hates swimming. She looks like a Muppet. I’m ready to not be so stressed.

I promise to write something better tomorrow. Or Thursday. Probably Thursday. Maybe Friday.

Let me distract you with another picture of my dog…wearing a poncho:

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The Post Where I’m Not Letting Myself Complain About My Week

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I never expected to love my kids like I do. I grew up always wanting to be a mom, but I don’t think I ever imagined what loving my kids could be like.

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I always figured that I would love my husband…but I never figured that I would be miles away and just miss him so much because he’s my person and my safe place. I just…I just didn’t know it could be like this.

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A&J

There’s no such thing as a perfect family, perfect children, or perfect marriage. I’m not going to sit here and prattle on about how perfect my life is. That type of perfection doesn’t exist. We have hard times. My husband and I are ridiculously stubborn and can be asshole jerks. My children can be spoiled rotten turd buckets who don’t listen. But even with all our imperfections, we have this family that is pretty damn rad.

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This week wasn’t my favorite. There were some wonderful and awesome moments, but the week as a whole was a bit stressful. It’s been stressful for quite some time. But when I sat down to write something, the words kept coming back to my family. They make everything worth it and okay. Even when they’re being…difficult.

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I’m a lucky, lucky girl.

family photo by sarah @ sarah maren photographers
family photos by sarah @ sarah maren photographers